From Defining Moments a novel, seeking an agent by Tessa Barrie.
After only a few weeks of married life, the rift between Fergus and Elizabeth grows on a daily basis and Fergus finds himself at breaking point.
Defining Moment 6 – LIVING A LIE
“… and if you can’t fix it you’ve got to stand it.”
Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain
Gloucestershire – April 1959
Silkwoods was alive with the sound of birdsong, from a chorus of blackbirds to a lone crowing pheasant. The mosses and lichens of the woodland floor submerged in a carpet of daffodils, snowdrops, and early flowering purple orchids.
Fergus was hacking along a footpath through the woods with Thomas behind him. There was a rustling in the undergrowth, which startled the horses and a female fallow deer took off at speed, twigs snapping under her hooves as she took flight.
‘When’s the baby due?’ Thomas asked. There was silence. ‘September isn’t it?’ He had sensed an uneasy tension in Fergus’s voice when they were saddling up. He seemed out of sorts, not his normal jovial self. He persevered. ‘Anna’s offered to pop round to talk to Elizabeth about what to expect when giving birth for the first time. If that would be helpful?’ This time Fergus reacted, digging his heels into the sides of the bay mare he was riding and galloped off down the track.
Thomas clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth, squeezed his legs and his horse broke into a collected canter. By the time he caught up, Fergus had dismounted by a wooden bridge over the river Churn, his horse’s neck stretched down into the water drinking. He was sitting on the bank, his head in his hands, with his knees drawn up to his chin, sobbing.
Thomas tied the reins of both horses to the bridge and sat down next to Fergus, putting an arm around his shoulders, firmly rubbing his upper arm with his hand.
‘Oh, Christ! I never used to cry when I was a child. I think I’ve gone soft in adulthood.’ Fergus pulled a handkerchief out of his jacket pocket and wiped his eyes, before blowing his nose loudly. ‘I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.’