She’s certain of every footfall on the rise and fall and rise of the Downland. That’s the best thing about her. I mean, I admire the generosity – the hot, sweet coffee. I like the way she whistles and hums. But it’s the surety of her footsteps, even here, where the OS map has ended and my phone has failed me. She doesn’t hesitate – just reaches out a steady hand on the next stile and smiles at my anxiety.
‘That’s Worthing, see?’
And maybe it is. When we stand at Chanctonbury Ring she shows me speck receding from the far reach of my eyes.
And she’s sure that this is our way. When I skid on a downhill, feel the pull in my knee, she catches my wrist. When my boot lace knots and is damp, tight, confounding my fingers, she loosens it – reties, firm and never too tight.
When the sky darkens she urges me on.
‘Come on, Rogers, up the pace!’
And I do. For her, I do. Because she is certain that we’ll make it before nightfall. Certain. Even when I’m not.