ICE • by Dave Alcock

“So have you met anyone yet?”

For a moment Pete looked uneasy. “No,” he said. “But I don’t really want to. I’m happy as I am. Emma and I still go on holiday together. I still get to see the kids.”

Jon nodded. The wipers rasped in front of them and cleared a sheet of slush that had built up on the windscreen. Jon leaned to one side and squinted at the line of tail-lights on the road up ahead. “Must be settling on top of the hill,” he said. “Guess they’ve had to close the road.” He reached for a knob on the control panel. “I’ll put on the heating. We could be here for a while.”

A stream of hot air poured out of the vents on either side of the dashboard. Jon put his hands out to warm them and felt the comfort pool around his wet and tingling feet. “I saw her,” he said. “Emma. The other night.”

“Oh yeah?” said Pete. “Whereabouts?”

“We were in that pizza place, down at the quay.”

“I know the one. We used to go there a lot. The place with the ice cream. The kids love that ice cream. Is that why she was there? Was she there with the kids?”

“No,” said Jon. “She was with someone else.”

Pete blinked uncertainly. “Sally, was it?”

“No. It was no-one I knew.”

“Must have been someone from the netball team.”

“No, Pete. She was there with another man.”

Pete didn’t move, but slowly his eyes darkened with woe. Then he turned and put his face to the window. He stared sullenly at the blackness beside the road.

Jon looked at him and sighed. “They were holding hands all night, Pete. Kim said she saw them kiss. She looked happy. She looked really happy. I’m really sorry. Emma’s moved on.”

Pete kept staring through the window. Jon turned and looked straight ahead. He gazed vacantly at the beams of his headlights and watched the flakes of ice falling slowly through the night. Then he sighed and his breath clouded in front of him.

He said, “Jesus! Now it’s really getting cold.”

Dave Alcock lives in Devon, England, and writes about the people and places of the British provinces. His stories focus on psychological change and the seeing and acceptance of new things.

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