On the Moors

There was a boy standing under the tree, watching the rain, as he puffed and wheezed up the hill. It was a miserable day, gray and cold, and he shook and shivered beneath the slashing rain. His fingers were numb in the pockets of his wool jacket.

He stood next to the boy, breath rough in the air. The boy said nothing, didn’t look at him. He watched the boy out of the corner of his eyes, unsettled without knowing why. The boy watched the rain with the absorption of one who had nowhere else to be.

“Hello,” he said, when he’d gotten his breath back.

The boy said, “Hello,” without turning his head.

“Miserable weather,” he said.

The boy said nothing. They were standing at the top of a long moor, half a mile from the road. The hill was surrounded by heather, through which he had forced his way, tearing the sleeve of his jacket in the process. His stomach rumbled, reminding him that he was hungry. He found a half melted candy bar in his pocket. Most of the label had worn off; it was an ICK bar. He offered some to the boy, dispiritedly, then ate the runny mess himself.

He stood under the tree, waiting for the rain to stop, watching the rain with the little boy.