Morag sighed. It was a deep plunging breath born of frustration, ennui and extreme discomfort.
“Don’t you sigh like that at me,” Barry snapped.
“I’ll sigh how the hell I want,” Morag came back. “‘Come with me to Rome,’ you said. ‘It’ll be easy,’ you said. ‘A quick flight and we’ll be having non-stop fun,’ you said. Well, sunshine, I’m not having fun now.”
They started glumly out of the cave entrance in silence for a beat. The rain continued to put down from a roiling grey sky. A howling wind whipped the shark-fin leaves of the bushes that stood as a curtain between the cave and the devastation of shattered trees, bent metal and broken bodies. The gale spat ice needles in the cavemouth.
Morag tried to shuffle back closer to the cold rock at their backs, but gained little more than a centimetre. She thrust her hands into her armpits and shivered hard.
“Look here,” growled Barry. He only ever said that when he was about to be truculent, and she sighed again. He shot her a glance, then continued “I didn’t make the sodding plane crash, did I? It’s not like I had a cunning plan to strand us here, alone and freezing our sodding arses off.”
“You were the one, however, that decided to leave the bags behind when I shouted ‘Grab the bags!’ Remember? The bags with the warm clothing in?”
“Look here, ” Barry said, his voice clipped with anger, “I panicked, Ok? And they always say to leave your personal belongings behind.”
“Not when everyone else is dead and you’ve somehow miraculously been offered a way out of the wreckage and the bags are, ” she raised her voice into a shout that drowned the screaming storm outside, “RIGHT FUCKING NEXT TO YOU!”
Barry fell silent, frowning. His pout reminded her of the eight year old boy he had been when they had first met, two decades ago when her father’s job had taken them to live in the small village in Lancashire. She had befriended the boy who lived down the lane, had taught him to climb trees, to make fires in the woods and, later, what his growing body and mind were capable of. His frown deepened.
“Why aren’t we?” he asked, hoarsely.
“What? Are you getting all existential on me now?”
“Why aren’t we dead?” He looked at her, his eyes a question. “Why did everyone else on the plane, including the pilot, I assume, suddenly collapse senseless – or dead?”
“How the hell should I know?” Morag pulled up her knees and hugged them to her. She wiggled her toes against the cold. The wind roared. Barry was right; they should not have survived the crash. That they had avoided injury, that they had remained conscious to escape the wreckage, was remarkable.
“Odd, isn’t it?” he continued. His voice shook. “What twisted serendipity selected me and you, out of all those people, to remain awake? And, while we’re at it, to survive an actual plane crash? It’s almost enough to bring a man to God.”
“God, my admittedly divine arse. We were just lucky. Or perhaps, given our situation now, unlucky.” She started out at the dark storm. “Things look a bit grim, don’t they, Barry my lad?”
He stared at her, horror and anguish battling in his expression. His eyes were wide with terrified regret, and rimmed with tears.
“Oh god, I’m sorry,” Barry moaned, his voice cracking. He shook uncontrollably, a despairing shudder topped with frozen shivering. “I’m freezing.”
Morag wrapped him in her arms and pulled him close.
“Body warmth,” she said.
“Thank you,” Barry snuggled close. He was not a man given to despair, and she would be happier, more optimistic, once her light-hearted, ready-for-anything man was back. Past experience told her that it wouldn’t be long.
“But no funny business, OK?” he said.
Morag smiled. That was better.