“I can’t thank you enough for the last few days Sharon, I couldn’t have faced coming back here on my own.” Fiona threw her arms around her friend’s shoulders and planted a smacking kiss on her cheek. Sharon drew back laughing.
“Would you stop now with all the gratitude. You would have done the same for me,” a shadow passed across her face, “heaven forbid though that I should need it. You really have been through it haven’t you? One positive that has come out of it is that you told me about the awful time you’ve had. I don’t know how you stayed sane after that.”
“I was beginning to think that I hadn’t to be honest. One thing that is still puzzling me though is why it has all stopped now. I am so sure that it all happened and yet here we are and there’s been nothing at all for days. Do you think it could really be all over?”
“I hope so love I really do but listen if there’s any more weirdness I want you to tell me straight away, don’t try and deal with it on your own, I’m here for you. While we’re on the subject what I said still stands I believe you when you say those things happened, I can’t even begin to explain it but I do believe you. Hey come on don’t start blubbing. I’ll see you in work tomorrow okay.”
Clearing up in the kitchen after their brunch Fiona found herself enjoying the time on her own. Yes it had been great having Sharon there but now the space all to herself and the luxury to simply relax and chill with a book and cup of coffee was wonderful. A final swipe with the dishcloth along the work top and she took herself into the bright lounge and flopped onto the couch. The unseasonal rain precluded an afternoon on the patio but the room was comfy and she sighed with satisfaction leaning back into the cushions.
The book was enthralling but the late nights talking things through with Sharon needed to be paid for and her lids grew heavy, slipping from her grasp the book flopped onto her lap. Sleep wrapped her round and all that could be heard was the drip of rain from the gutters and the swoosh of car tyres in the road outside.
Gradually she came to her senses, the light in the room had dimmed and peering at her watch she was astounded to see that she had slept for two hours. Stretching luxuriously and swinging her legs round she stood, picked up the empty cup and made her way into the kitchen. Refreshed and relaxed she was totally unprepared for the sight that waited for her on the kitchen table.
“Oh God, oh no it can’t be.” Gulping she crept forward willing it to disappear but there on the table in the beam of light from a watery sun lay a rose, a red rose with a ribbon around the stem. She stretched out a shaking finger and pushed it gently, it didn’t crumble and disintegrate the way that the others had it slid across the shiny wood a little and wobbled slightly. The hairs on the back of her neck prickled and goose-flesh ran up and down her arms, she shuddered. There was someone behind her, she was convinced, she knew it. Slowly she turned forcing her eyes to remain open, if there was something there then she would damn well face it. It was fleeting, it was momentary and it was terrifying but she knew it was real. Through the open door she could see the patio doors and the figure standing there, dark and gone in a moment but there absolutely. A bulky figure dressed in dark clothes it wasn’t possible in the brief glimpse to have more than an impression but she would swear that it was a man and that his face was covered.
She screeched and cowered back against the table in shock and then it was gone. Instinct then carried her forward running to the expanse of glass she grabbed at the handle and slid back the door and stepped out onto the damp on the patio. As she did the gate swung on its hinges the lock clicking as the wood swung home. Her bare feet swished across the grass and she dragged open the tall gate, she ran through, this wasn’t going to scare her, no more. This was real the gate closing had proved it and anything real she could damned well deal with. She ran into the road to find it deserted no cars just at that moment and no walkers in the summer shower. She spun back and forth but whoever it had been had gone and gone quickly but that back gate swinging shut had saved her sanity. She knew now for certain that this wasn’t some apparition from beyond the grave, a ghost wouldn’t need to open the gate.
Storming back into the kitchen, angry now and determined she took up the flower and tore it into pieces and threw it into the pedal bin. Her strength of mind was back, she was in control, she wouldn’t be driven from here and she wouldn’t have her hard-earned life destroyed, after all that she had gone through. She would deal with this she would face it and she would deal with it.