Fiona turned off the shower and stepped from the glazed double cubicle. Reaching through the steam she plucked a towel from the heated rail. Rubbing at her cooling skin she gazed around. It had been two weeks now since moving into this new house and still she couldn’t help a silly grin as she admired the gleaming tiles and the sparkling chrome
Stepping into the spacious bedroom she twirled round hugging the towel to herself and smiling inanely. She knew that it was decadent and her mother would call her daft but she couldn’t help herself. Her dream house had come at a high price.
She lived with her mum and dad as long as she could. Yes she had paid them some rent but it was nominal and she didn’t have the outlay that she would have faced should she have bought or even rented on her own or with a friend. It hadn’t always been easy and many and many a time she had hidden her head under the pillow in frustration at their inability to accept that she was grown and working and should be independent but at the end of the day it was their house and she owed them so much.
When Granny had the stroke, she had done the right thing. There was no way that the little terrace house was big enough for all of them and her conscience wouldn’t ever have let her stay there and see Granny in a home. The nurse’s accommodation she had moved to was pretty grim in truth. She wasn’t used to living in such a huge community and the constant parade of beings every time she opened her flat door was unsettling and exhausting.
The flat itself had that overused, overoccupied feeling that no potted plants and new bedding could disguise but she had stuck it out. She had finished her training and things had improved when she had been able to move into the senior nurses flat at her new hospital before moving abroad. Now though, now this beautiful house, new and sparkling, freshly painted and double glazed and centrally heated felt like something from a film.
Ikea had done her proud and her bedroom looked like a catalogue page, she had even bought the artificial lilies. She had almost convinced herself that it was ironic but it wasn’t was it. No, she was living in a house from a magazine and if the magazine was the Ikea catalogue it didn’t matter it was a dream come true.
Heaving a huge sigh of pleasure and satisfaction she clopped down the oak stairs and into the bright, modern kitchen and switched on the coffee maker. She knew that eventually it would all pale and become everyday but she was trying to prolong the newness and the excitement for as long as she could. Hard work and sacrifice had bought this house and it was all her own work and she refused to feel guilty about the pleasure it brought her. Five years working in oil rich countries living in little more than cupboards and persevering in the face of language problems, dreadful homesickness and religious intolerance, oh yes she had earned this and there was no need for her to feel anything but pleasure in it.
Ikea was in evidence here as well and the little dining table and four chairs perched under the window was backlit by diffused sunlight glowing through the sheer curtains. Plopping onto the chair she reached over and with a flourish pulled back the curtains. The professionally landscaped garden, tiny little postage stamp that it was, had been a special offer to encourage buyers and she loved it, loved it, loved it. Floodlit at night there was a tiny patio and just last weekend she had bought a teak lounger ready for the summer if there was going to be any.
What the hell, “hey, hey you.” There right before the window, lounging on the new seat she couldn’t believe it. Some bloke, some impudent workman probably. How dare he. She ran to the door, too astonished and angry to be afraid she fumbled with the triple locking device and then flinging the door open she leapt onto the pine decking.
“What the hell do you think you’re do…” The decking was empty, the chair was vacant. She spun towards the back gate but it was closed. “Oh.”
She walked to the gate and was astonished to find it closed and locked. The garden was deserted and yet only moment before she was sure, absolutely convinced that there had been a man sitting on her patio.