Outside the Co-op, the Big Issue seller shrinks from the cold’s battery; hood pulled up, coat hugged tight. I give her hot chocolate, explain there is no second cup: Café Nero doesn’t know about Pay Forward. We split a bunch of bananas; half go into her bag for her kids. She thanks me in fractured English. Back home, I’m twice-warming in the garage (first you chop it, then you burn it). Fox comes down the path, sure-footed on the rime. I freeze, saw angled in the block of wood. The gap closes. I make myself small. Sawdust motes float in the air. Fox tests the lawn for pickings. The frost is one massive ‘keep off’ notice; worms and beetles on lockdown beneath the white crust. Fox looks at me, his eyes an arms-length from mine. Belongs to no-one but the mate whose coital shrieks have startled the darkness for weeks. I think: I will put out some cat food for them. It’s well meant, but one of us cannot speak, and the other cannot hear what’s being said.