فصل 04

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فصل 04

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CHAPTER FOUR

Death at the mine

People of all ages stood around in small groups, talking in low voices, it was three o’clock in the morning, four hours later. Huw was standing with his father. One look at his father’s face had told Huw what he didn’t want to know: Gareth was down the mine.

Part of the roof of a tunnel had fallen down and some miners were on the wrong side of the fallen rock. A team of men had been called in to help and had brought up ten men safely. As this group arrived at the top, the waiting families pressed forward looking for their loved ones. Gareth was not one of the ten.

The mine manager came over to Huw and his father. There’s still hope, David,’ he said. ‘The team say they can hear noises behind the rock,’

‘How many are still down there?’ asked Huw. ‘Five. It’ll take some time before we reach them.’ Huw and his father said nothing, and the mine manager walked away to say the same thing to another family. During the long wait David Thomas and his son, Huw, stood together without speaking. From time to time, one of them lit a cigarette and they drank tea which was given to them by kind neighbours. Megan came and stood with them and put her hand into Huw’s. She looked into his eyes and saw he was afraid.

It was ten o’clock when they brought out Gareth’s body.

He and two other men had died in the rockfall. The two others had been lucky.

Gareth came home to the small house. His body lay in the front room and his father sat beside him. The neighbours came to say a sad goodbye to the young man they had known so well. Huw’s father said nothing as people came and went. He sat by Gareth’s side until it grew dark. When Huw came in to say goodnight, it was as if his father hadn’t heard.

Huw woke in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep. It seemed wrong to be safe and warm in bed while his brother lay cold downstairs. He decided he would go and sit with Gareth. He got out of bed and walked towards the front room. As he got there, he saw the door was open a little. He stopped. By the light of the moon, Huw could just see his father: he hadn’t moved from his son’s side. In the quiet, Huw could hear his father’s crying and his low voice asking again and again why this had happened. But his words fell into darkness and were lost. Slowly, Huw turned and went back to bed. He stared into the night for a long time and let the hot wet tears run down his cheeks.

For a few days after Gareth’s death, Huw’s father sat at home. He and Huw slowly began to talk - first about Gareth and then about Richard’s death in the war in North Africa. Both of them cried and tried to help each other, but Huw could see that deep inside, his father was angry. Angry because death had taken away three people he loved - his wife, Richard, and now Gareth.

‘Just you and me now, boy,’ said his father. ‘I don’t want you to go back down that mine.’

‘I’ve got to, Dad, you know that,’ replied Huw. ‘What else can I do? There’s nothing in Tredonald - only the mine.’

His father said nothing.

That evening Huw met Megan down by the river. It was their first time alone since Gareth’s death. She listened as he talked about how empty the house was without his brother. Gareth had taken care of Huw when he was younger and together they had looked after their father. Without him, he felt alone.

‘You’re not alone,’ said Megan. ‘You have me. Nothing will change that.’ She could see that Huw was hurting inside. She wanted to wash it all away, but knew that the only thing she could do was listen.

Huw loved her for being so strong and understanding. Suddenly, he took hold of both her hands. ‘Will you marry me?’ said Huw.

‘What? Yes, of course I will,’ smiled Megan. ‘But

‘Don’t say “but”. I know all about the “buts”,’ replied Huw. ‘It’s enough that you’ve said “yes”.’

They kissed and only stopped when Megan felt the tears running down Huw’s face.

Megan and Huw walked slowly back towards her home.

‘Hey look, there’s your Mum and Dad,’ said Huw, watching as Mr and Mrs Jenkins closed the front door of the shop behind them.

‘Yes, they’re going to visit Aunt Mary,’ replied Megan. ‘You can come in, if you like.’

They went upstairs to the flat above the shop where Megan and her family lived. Megan realised it was the first time she and Huw had been there alone. There was a warm fire burning in the sitting room. They sat together on the sofa and talked, and Huw cried some more. Megan held him in her arms until he was quiet. Then they started kissing and their kisses became stronger and stronger.

Megan got up and went out of the room. Huw didn’t know what to do, but just then she returned. She had taken off all her clothes and was standing there with the light of the fire behind her.

‘Oh Megan, you’re beautiful,’ said Huw. ‘But… are you sure this is what you want?’

‘Yes, Huw,’ said Megan in a quiet voice. ‘Don’t talk, just come to me.’

They made love on the floor. For both of them it was the first time and it was wonderful.

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