Nam-ma is driving as the first leaves fall. She remembers how they skitter. Jerky, comedic, enthusiastic: once she had a wind up toy, a pair of chattering teeth, a similar quality of movement.
Little Granddaughter, red cheeked, has slumped to sleep in her car seat.
It is hot, even with the windows down.
Dog lies panting; a tail thumps, irregular, for various scents.
They park near Feather Tor.
Nam-ma pours a flask cup of tepid espresso, looks forward to the cold leat water.
The little Buddha is missing, she sees, stooping the coffee flask down to the passenger foot well. He is not in his usual nook by the gear stick. He was there… when?
The day the brakes failed and no-one was hurt. That morning she had rubbed his tummy: she remembers; the cool, the smoothness of it; she had said, 'For happiness.'
LG awakes, is enamoured immediately: 'Cows!'
Beyond the cows they walk, to the leat, where a dragonfly circles an ancient granite cross and wild ponies drink. One foal comes close, closer, winds a neck around Nam-ma's leg. LG strokes the Mohican mane, the broad back, the soft ears. Whispers:
They wander back, a wet Dog undulating over every cowpat she can find. LG hoots.
'Oh Doggle: so funny! Oh! S'funny again!'
They buy vanilla ice cream in cones.
Nam-ma thinks of little Buddha. Maybe his work here is done, she is thinking: she feels that he is with them still.