On the quay in a cagoule, with a north wind blowing in rain and echoing through the halyards of the Essex smacks. A cormorant headed up the estuary; the Roman River was full and the silent black-headed gulls bobbed on the choppy water. There was no one there, no one at the pub or in the café. The swallows were gone; the golden fields now steely stubble. She was trying to make a phone call for no particular purpose other than to keep in touch with someone. The signal was dead. There were times when something just needed to give.