He gulped, caught by the cold Atlantic wind that thrust its way through the open door. Swilling the last of the beer down, he crushed the can and tossed it into the sink, its final words echoing round the kitchen until it found a resting place.
Slamming the door behind him, he secured it then, snatching at the keys, he set off into the garden where, wading through the wet grass, his jeans were soaked to knee height and he cursed the shoes he wore.
Reaching the bottom, he kicked the overgrown thorns aside to reveal three stone flags and stepped down towards the old house, its rendered walls tired and cracked, the roof forever gone. Red brick infills glistened in the rain where windows had once looked out. His eyes were drawn to a now lonely cast-in metal hoop and he shook his head.
Turning, he faced the barn which loomed above him, its life mottled by the reds and browns of rust. He sucked in air as he hopped between the muddy puddles, shaped by the hooves of long ago, to approach it.
With the fattest key selected, he gripped the rusted padlock with his right hand whilst forcing it to turn with his left. It popped as it sprung open. He inspected it closely before placing it back on the separated loop.
The door of the barn was stiff. Pulling harder, it finally screeched open like an animal being tortured. He stepped inside, his eyes blinking in the darkness. As he moved forward he skidded slightly, the wet floor drawing his gaze upward to a cracked roof light. In that moment, the grey clouds gently shifted to allow a weak ray of light to illuminate the rear where the rotten remnants of old hay remained. He closed his eyes and smiled as a chorus of childish laughter encircled him.
The shadow of gloom returned and he slowly opened his eyes, sighing as he leant forward on to the tarnished metal cattle enclosure, his nose wrinkled by the musty smells which still lingered. His hands rested only briefly on the top rail before he pulled them away, the shock of the cold evident in his sharp exhale.
Shivering, he crossed his arms, tightly pulling his hands into his armpits. He glanced at his watch then, frowning, moved back towards the door before pausing on the threshold to look back at one of the dark girders which held the barn together. He drew in a breath and swallowed deeply, tears welling as he stumbled outside.
He shouldered the barn door to close it, and roughly clicked the padlock back into place. His eyes still red, he turned and hurried towards the rusted lattice gate, part-buried in the overgrown dry-stone wall at the end of the yard.
He climbed it quickly and jumped down into the boreen on the other side, landing with a splatter. Huddled tightly against the conspiring elements, he strode away purposefully with never a backward glance.
© Mark Davoren 2017