“The night was so incredibly beautiful, but all I saw were ruby drops in the snow and the broken wings of the murdered angel and I was scared, so scared…” His words trailed off as he sat staring at his fingers as if they were somehow unfamiliar.

No longer aware of the bright trimmings of Christmas, she got up from her chair and crossed the room, her whole body aching as if at the end of an arduous journey. Outside, the matt black of the night pressed against the living room window, the bright intermittent spray more like so many peering eyes than the warm glow of reflected fairy lights. She closed the curtains, throwing them together a little too quickly, but the image remained.

He was groaning now, his face buried between the broad palms of his hands.