“Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.” Voltaire.
Barrettstowe in the year 1727
If any of the townsfolk going about their business had cared to look up at the window over the derelict tailor’s shop, they would have seen a man standing very still, lost in thought. A man who bore scars of a life lived to the full. His dark eyes were cloudy with reflection and his hair long and tangled from lack of care. His gaunt face betrayed a scarcity of food and his bowed head showed his broken spirit.
He could hear the foot-steps drumming on the stairs; they were closing in on him. He waited, motionless. There was no point running anymore, he hadn’t got the heart for it. The fear that had motivated him for so long had finally receded, leaving him utterly drained.
As the thunder of boots grew louder and the stairs began to groan under the weight of the men approaching he found himself wondering how much it would hurt.
The corners of his mouth twitched in a sad smile. It was the height of irony that he would meet his end here - at the end of a rope no doubt, as his father had in this godforsaken town. After all he had fought; his efforts had only served to complete the circle thus.
The man trailed a finger down the dust on the cracked windowpane, leaving an imperfect line in the grime. His finger caught momentarily on a rough edge, drawing blood which soaked into the filth, darkening it.
As he absently wiped his bloody hand on his shirt, he looked through the glass to the busy street and couldn’t help but dwell on what a fine thing it would be to see a familiar face in the crowd, just one last time.
Being back in this place awoke memories in droves and they came swarming around him like apparitions, opening old wounds.
When he gazed at the waterfront it was as though time wound back and he saw himself in what seemed like another life, standing in the place where his story had begun.