The icy wind rattled the shutters on Martin's attic window as he packed his flight bag for the trip to St. Petersburg tonight. Mr Alyakin needed to get to Antibes for an important sale the next day, Christmas.
He arrived at Fitton airfield and found the MJN Office empty. His mobile vibrated in his pocket. "Mr Alyakin canceled. I hope you're not already at the airfield." Carolyn's irritated voice barked into Martin's ear.
"Oh," Martin said timidly, pulling his thread-bare scarf closer to his neck. "Well, I am here, but I suppose I'll lock up."
"Don't forget to turn the light off." Carolyn scolded.
The drive back to the share-house was treacherous, as the arctic temperatures had turned the wet roads into an obstacle course of ice patches.
The lights were on in the share house, but he knew that the students were probably having a make-shift Christmas. He envied the hopeful camaraderie their youth gave them. He would quietly open the door and sneak quickly up the stairs, being sure to skip the creak on the fourth step.
The moment Martin placed his ice-cold hand on the door-knob, the door swung open and a billowing cloud of warmth and indescribable smells escaped from the house.
"Happy Christmas, Skip!" Arthur shouted gleefully. Behind him, Douglas was placing plates and silver on the small communal table and the students were in the neglected kitchen being scolded by Carolyn's acerbic voice.
Martin didn't know what to say. He stood there still on the landing, shivering in the cold, and yet he felt a warmth rising in his chest. "Arthur.." But Carolyn was louder.
"Arthur!" She shouted from the kitchen.
Inside, Martin felt like he was floating as he entered the house, removing his scarf to the warmth radiating from the fire raging in the forgotten fire-place.
"I'm just going to pop up to my room for a tick," He said to no one in particular, but Douglas nodded in response.
The tears fell as Martin's foot touched the top step. He opened his door, and the warmth had even reached that barren space. It felt like home. Walking over to his desk, he opened the top drawer.
He picked up the two pills he'd handled so many times in the past few weeks. The floor creaked as he walked to the loo on the second floor.
Standing in front of the toilet, he heard laughter echo from downstairs. He took a deep breath, throwing the pills in the water. Smiling hopefully, he flushed.
He was going to be ok.