Opening the car door the crisp cold of a winters morning hit him full force, overpowering the warmth that had built up on the drive from home.
Throwing the keys to the floor, he scanned the car park. There was no one here; it was a beautiful remote place to depart. Knowing the track head was only metres away, it would be mere minutes before it would all be behind him, fading into the bush, never to return.
Everything around him felt familiar; it had flashed through his mind a dozen times before. Déjà vu that was finally, fatally real. In the past, his resolve always failed. The realisation of his selfishness keeping him in the car; sitting, thinking and contemplating, eventually weakening and returning to the turmoil, to the devastation he had wrought on his family.
Opening the boot of the car he pulled out his backpack, the familiarity of the canvas and straps providing some assurance, some confirmation of what he was about to do; though he really did not know where or for how long. He had no real intent of surviving.
Adjusting the pack on his back, tightening the waistband around his paunch. He paused; it had been a long time since this was a regular activity; since middle age was not an encumbrance to the physicality of his earlier life.
Checking the phone one last time, nothing. Everyone who cared had gone to work or school. The same people he had betrayed and had been hurting continuously for all these months. The same people who would be better of without him.
He knew he was lying to himself, yet he also knew he could no longer not be heard, believed. Turning the phone off, he threw it under the car; he would not need it where he was going. Inhaling he could taste the bush around him, the moisture in the air, wet dirt and eucalypt.
Walking towards the track head, he heard the crunch of the car park gravel underfoot give way to the quiet of the rotting twigs and leaves that covered the track. Good, it was evident the path was not in regular use. This would give him time.
The night before he and Esther had, had another discussion. The pain and anguish etched into her face. In the questions, she asked. Her struggle to understand how he could do what he had done, evident in her whole being. 'I want to know what you were thinking of me during it all?'
She'd asked this a dozen times before, he had answered as well, yet she struggled to recognise the answers, to associate with them; to comprehend precisely how her husband of 17 years; the one she had trusted wholeheartedly had betrayed her.
He had asked himself the same question time and again, continuously ever since the discovery, ever since he had been seeing the psychologist. Since leaving his job. Even now he could not fathom how he as a well-educated person could be so dumb, so mute, so emotionally closed when it comes to what and how he had felt in the past.
He stopped the reality of what he was doing hitting home. The path in front of him was shrouded in mist, blurring into a white grey wall, it's cold tendrils moving up the way towards him. The memory and the honesty of Esther's love overwhelming him, stopping him from taking another step.
He stood in silence, his mind spinning with all of Esther's questions, all the truths and his inability to answer. The emotions of anger, hurt and sadness; of despair that he had always contained in the past overwhelming him.
Motionless for what seemed an eternity, the mist continuing towards him, enveloping him. The cold seeping into his exposed flesh, to his core. Chilling his already hollow sorry soul, until it touched on that little ember of love, lighting the hope that was within him.
His love for Esther; for his girls overwhelming him. His guilt at what he was doing and remorse for what he had done causing his heart to break again. The love and hope flaring up inside of him, trying to heal the break, fueling the courage and resilience he needed.
He turned back. Towards his car, towards life.