Inside, the cactus spills its blousy pink flowers over the windowsill, their mouths reaching for floorboards that used to be oak trees. Outside, the day holds its dull skies as though it’s as bored of winter as she is. She stands at the window and considers the abandoned garden – lines of shrivelled fuchsia leaves, ferns tangled into dry brown curls. The glass is cold beneath her palm, and she remembers – for the first time in years – the botanical gardens in Edinburgh: condensation like tears running down the glasshouse walls; all that hot green abandonment on the inside.
The woman she was with told her how glass is made: sand shovelled into a red-hot furnace, and then poured like spitting molten gold into cold water. ‘Can you believe that?’ she’d said, ‘Sand?’ They had talked about taking a holiday in Mauritius, escaping the dreariness of winter in Scotland; running across the beach for a swim before breakfast – sand between their toes.
She traces a line down the kitchen window and promises the fuchsias and the ferns, the daffodil bulbs she’s tucked into the soil – soon, soon, soon.