You had spent most of your years gazing at the moon like a thick haired child on a Christmas advert but the orange plane to Reykjavik would do instead. That had been on my bucket list since my 30th too, I think I’d told you one time in the kitchen whilst making gingerbread, your little hands too sticky to push in the curranty eyes.
I opted for tightly packed hand luggage so we moved straight through. In the queues most people were dressed ready to strip off the other side but outdoor clothing was always brighter, wasn’t it? The security men pulled the right faces when I explained you weren’t a bottle of whisky. They were used to it they said. I thought one had winked at me, though I may have imagined that. His badge said Arni.
We waited for the van for what felt like hours, my mouth getting drier, skin getting wetter and no coins for the coffee machine. When we got it I ran my fingers around its edges, pretending to check it for damage. It was covered with pictures of birds and flowers and came with a sleeping bag. I think you would have liked it. After stopping for sandwiches, we pushed northwards looking for a moonlike graveyard but perhaps not just yet. I lay you at the side of me and wondered about putting your seatbelt on. I caught my nails digging into my palm then changed to messing with the radio.
The next day we took the peninsula west. A crusty fly accompanied us on the windscreen. We spotted tiny houses with roofs in crayola colours. Some, I decided, were churches. The guide book told us the hidden people lived there. I stopped and whispered my secrets into their imaginary ears. I sung hymns aloud when the radio wouldn’t work anymore.
We parked at the water library. My legs followed the signs down the hill to buy a ticket from a cool student with an international accent. She gave us the secret code to the door and the library was all ours for thirty minutes before more people in waterproofs came. I placed you on the word snarpur whilst I tiptoed round the water monoliths. The letters on the floor formed more beautifully in Icelandic. I made tea in the van when it started to rain. Outside, four gulls flew left and then right. I unrolled the sleeping bag and chose to stay there all night. I held you tight and remembered that I would have to let you go tomorrow.
On Sunday there were more lava fields. After the wading tourists had gone, I let you go in the midnight sunshine. Still ash from the night it happened. And still ash under my own skin. I turned back to the van shuddering in the icy air.
Liz Kay is a writer and therapist based in Cheshire and Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom. She has been dabbling in short fiction for the last few years and has been lately turning her attention to novel writing. Her inspiration comes from the ordinary and extraordinary that can be found in our external and internal worlds and she is a huge fan of the therapeutic power of creative writing. She tweets @elizabethjkay