The Girl in the Water – Chapter 5

Jean couldn’t see at first what was different. There was no real mess, no paper strewn about, no broken ornaments, no overturned furniture.

Her computer was gone though, and a couple of seconds stretched into eternity as she stood by the door, trying to make sense of the different scene.

The extra monitor was there, the cable trailing from the desk top and dangling just short of the carpet, the mouse sat forlornly beside an empty space. She stepped across the room and touched the denuded surface. She used a laptop but didn’t take it out of this room. It was tied to its peripheral companions constantly, unless she went away from home. She never typed in the lounge, that was her relaxing space and she never typed in bed, or watched movies on it. It was a work machine and so it stayed in her work space. Except it hadn’t. It had gone.

Stupidly she bent and looked under the desk pushing the chair roughly aside. She wiped a hand across the faint film of dust which had gathered in the place that used to be under the machine. Sickness boiled in her stomach and an idea pushed its way forward to the front of her brain. She turned from the office, ran down into the sun room and snatched up her jacket. Already she didn’t expect the phone to be there and so, when it wasn’t the shock was perhaps less than it might have been. Her handbag, which was always in the same corner of the kitchen was gone, she raced around the house flinging open cupboard doors, pulling coats from the hooks and even throwing the sofa cushions onto the floor.

She dashed back upstairs and dragged open the cupboard door in the corner. At first it seemed that all was as it should be but it felt wrong. It was impossible to remember where everything had been but she had the feeling that other hands than hers had handled the files, the little trays that she used for her mail.  She reached out and pushed a file folder back into line with its companions. She pulled out the drawers in her desk, the cash box holding emergency cash was gone.  Back in the bedroom her jewellery box was untouched and held just what she expected it to.

She perched on the end of the bed. Her hands shaking and her throat dry.

Someone had come into her house, into her home, while she was sleeping. They had prowled the dark rooms in silence and taken the computer and phone, her cash and handbag, and she couldn’t at this point even begin to remember what had gone along with that. It was ludicrous, it was ridiculous, it was terrifying.

Back in the office she hunted in all the corners but it was no good, the things were gone.

She should do something, call someone, take some sort of action.

In the kitchen she lifted the hand set on the land line and stabbed in the number for Eileen Rather.

The phone was answered quickly, “Hello, is that you Jean? This is early. Are you alright? Bob told me what happened, about yesterday. Do you want me to come over?”

“No, no there’s no need for that Eileen. But, could I have a quick word with Bob?”

“Yes, of course. Just a minute. I’ll drag him away from his bacon sandwich. He’s only just popped in, been out since early doors.” There was a chuckle and then the muted sound of distant conversation. Jean turned back and forth, peering, searching, examining the homely spaces that had become sinister and unfamiliar.

***

 “So, there’s nothing else gone?” The comforting bulk of Bob Rather at her kitchen table, his huge hands wrapped around a coffee mug, had done much to calm Jean’s nerves.

She shook her head. “No, but what is gone is pretty devastating. My phone, my bag, a silly bit of cash but Bob, they’ve taken my computer. If there is anything else I haven’t come across it yet. I mean the music player, tele. all that stuff is completely fine. I don’t have very much electronic equipment, apart from the phone and lap top. I’ve got my Kindle, but that was in the bedroom and it’s still there. There’s the microwave and suchlike, you know toaster and what have you, in the kitchen as well, “she shrugged, “I don’t know what sort of things people take.”

Bob nodded, “Well we have this spate of robberies going on in Calthorne, you’ll have seen it in the papers. We’ve been telling people to be more careful about their security,” he raised his eyebrows at her, “I suppose it could be that lot spreading their net a bit. Mind you, to be honest it’s not quite the same. What they’ve been taking is more the stuff that you’ve mentioned. Radios, Microwaves and that, maybe they intended to take more but they got disturbed. They have taken computers in the past of course but mostly game things, Wii and that type of carry on. Thing is with your laptops and such, they have to clean ‘em out, the hard drive thing you know so they can’t be identified, so it’s not their biggest choice. We reckon it’s youngsters, got themselves a contact to sell the stuff on, money for drugs most probably. That seems the most likely thing. I’ll get someone to give you a ring with a crime number for your insurance.”

“I haven’t touched much, though there will be my prints on the desk of course. Will someone come to do that?”

“Sorry Jean. I know what you’re thinking, but to be honest I don’t think there’ll be anyone coming apart from me.”

“But, what about prints, you know so you can see if it is the same people.” She stopped as he shook his head.

“Afraid not love. We just haven’t the resources. You weren’t hurt, weren’t threatened. There’s not even any damage and what they’ve taken is pretty minimal.”

“Minimal! Bob, have you the slightest idea what this means to me?! This is my work station, it’s where I do my writing. Have you any clue…?” She had to stop as her voice cracked with emotion.”

The big man leaned over and patted her hand where it lay on the table top. “I know Jean, it’s rotten but you see – it’s priorities. I am sorry. Have you lost a lot of your work? I should have thought you would be doing that backing up to the cloud, to memory sticks and all that. That would have helped out.”

“Yes, of course it does but there are little notes, small reminders and – oh well. I do see what you mean, when I think of the poor girl yesterday I feel a bit ashamed, but it’s such an intrusion, I feel defiled. Yes, that’s it. I look around my place and think about someone I don’t know prowling around while I was asleep upstairs, and it’s horrible.”

“Oh, I know Jean, I sympathise but there’s no good me pretending.”

“No. Right well, I’ll wait for my number then and give the insurance company a call. Can you recommend anyone to come and fit me some extra locks?”

“Not really love, I’m not allowed to. We could send an officer around to give you a security advice visit, but that could be a while and – well to be honest it’s a bit late isn’t it. Look, between you and me there’s a chap in the High Street, back of the Weatherspoons, he just has a little place, not one of these big firms, and he’ll do you a good job and I reckon he’ll be able to come pretty soon. I’ll write the name down if you have a bit of paper. Just off the record you know.”

“Thanks Bob. I suppose that’s it then as far as you’re concerned?”

“I’m afraid so love, yes.”

“Is there any more news about the girl from the canal?” As she spoke she saw a cloud pass across his face.

“Aye, well that’s something else again isn’t it. We’ve got the city boys coming in, I was up at the crack of dawn helping to sort things out for them.”

“The City Boys?”

“Aye. I expect they’ll be getting in touch with you pretty soon. Don’t get upset about it all will you. They’ll likely want to go over your statement. See if there’s anything else you’ve remembered.”

“Well, can’t you do that?”

“No, not now. They’ll want to do it themselves I reckon.”

“Why?” She could tell that there was much he wanted to say but he was holding back, either from kindness or regulations but she wouldn’t have it. She wouldn’t be protected from reality and she wouldn’t be kept in the dark.

Bob sighed and rubbed his hands over his face. “Seems, she didn’t drown.”

“What, how do you mean she didn’t drown. I pulled her out of the water myself…” as she spoke, the truth hit her in the gut. “Oh no, oh Bob.”

“Aye, there’s more to it than we thought. Of course it’s very early days and you know I can’t tell you much, but it seems the coroner’s early findings are – well shall we say confusing and worrying.”

He didn’t need to say anymore and so he simply lifted the mug to his lips and drained the last of his coffee. There was such sadness in his face as he looked at her again that she hardly dare speak.

“Do you know who she is?”

“We don’t. Shouldn’t be long though, we’re working hard on that. I’ll let the other squad know that you’re expecting them shall I. Will you be in all day?”

“Yes, that’s fine. I’ll ring the locksmith and see if he can come and I’ll stay in. Will they ring me do you think?”

“Oh yes, and please Jean, don’t worry about it.” With these final words, he stood up from the kitchen chair. “You stay there love, I’ll let myself out. I’m really sorry about your computer, don’t forget to contact your bank, cards and all that. Best to let them know as soon as you can.”

It struck her as he left that there was much she had to do now, the bank was just the start of it. There were passwords to change all over the place and all she had to do it on was the little Kindle Fire. She had been so upset about the loss of her writing, that she hadn’t thought beyond that and for a moment she was panicked at the thought of all she had to do. She went up to the office and drew out the household file, she had to handle this carefully so she didn’t miss anything. As she sat down at the desk her mind wasn’t full of tedious calls she had to make, but the dead young face and slender body of a girl who it now seemed had not met her death by accident or at her own hand.

 

 

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The Girl in the Water – Chapter 4

There was no sense of disturbance when Jean woke at her usual, seven thirty. The cat had sneaked in during the night and slithered under the covers. “Slumpy, what are you doing? You know that’s naughty.” She smiled as she stroked his black, sleepy body. They both knew that the disapproval was only for appearances sake and he rolled over in the warm, peered at her through half closed golden eyes and then stretched and curled into a ball. “So, having a lie in, are you? It’s alright for some people.”

It was only when she was in the bathroom, rubbing at her face with a flannel that the awful events of the previous afternoon intruded. She stopped and leaned against the wash basin. Every now and then she would use a real life happening in one of her books, nothing that could be traced back to the people involved, but would it ever be okay to use this? Last night when she had been typing she had been excited by the start of something, a short story maybe or, if she was lucky something longer. Already the girl had come to life for her, a sort of back story had begun.

Well, if it did turn into a novel it would be a long time before it was ready for anyone to read it, so maybe it wouldn’t be disrespectful.

She would change the description later, make the corpse unrecognisable, invent a new location.

The ideas bubbled in her brain. She knew that if she went into the office now, before breakfast then the chances were that it would be hours before she ate. She mustn’t. “Breakfast first, lady.” She admonished.

Once on the landing it was clear there was something wrong. Out here it was cold, much colder than her bedroom and en-suite bathroom. The curtains at the window, by the turn on the stairs, moved in the draught. She felt a jolt of fear.

Her phone was in the hall, she had told herself over and over that it would be sensible to take it into the bedroom with her at night but then, she just hadn’t. So, there was no choice but to go down. She glanced around. There was nothing here to take with her, no weapon to give her courage. “Hello.” She knew, of course she did, that it was silly to call out but, she did it anyway, “Is there somebody there?”

Unsurprisingly, there was no answer, the silence grew thicker, more threatening.

Jean took in a deep breath and forced her feet to move. She pulled her dressing gown more tightly around her, reached a hand for the banister rail and took the first step down the staircase.

The front door was slightly ajar. Perhaps that’s all it was. Perhaps in her disturbed state she hadn’t locked up properly, and then, maybe Slumpy had pushed it open.

There was no sign of disturbance in the hallway. She reached to the table for her phone and was surprised that it wasn’t there, in the usual place beside the vase. Her keys were there but no phone. She muttered to herself. “Still in my pocket. It’ll be flat now. Dammit.”

She moved on, there was nothing untoward in the kitchen. All tidy and neat. She could see through to the sun room, her jacket was in a heap on the floor. It had slid hadn’t it, slipped off the back of the chair.

She gulped.

She pushed open the door to the lounge. Later when she thought about it she remembered that she had closed her eyes at this point. Afraid of what she might find, but in the event, all was well. No mess, no damage. So, she had simply been careless and had got away with it. Blowing out a breath she lowered to the chair near the door and gave herself a moment for her nerves to calm.

After two cups of tea and a piece of toast she was feeling much better. She felt stupid but had learned a lesson. She must be more careful. It was odd, it had never happened before and she was convinced that she had locked up in the usual way. But, the evidence was undeniable, the door had been open. She opened and closed it a few times but there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with the locks. Maybe what she should do was have something more substantial fitted. It was so quiet here, in this little Midlands village, and in her own cul-de-sac. At the end of the day, modern times had modern dangers and the single Yale was probably far from ideal. She would deal with that today. Call a locksmith and find out what would be involved in upping her security.

It had been a lucky escape.

The sun was shining, so very different from yesterday. Maybe if the weather had been better there would have been more people about, she wouldn’t have been the one to find that pathetic, dead girl. Maybe the poor unfortunate wouldn’t have slipped in, or if it turned out to be the case, been able to kill herself in such an awful way. Strange the incidental things on which mighty events depend.

She shook her head, climbed back upstairs, tidied the bed, pulling Slumpy out from under the duvet. He grumped at her, and she heard his feet thud on the stairs and then the click of the cat flap as he went out into the back garden.

She pushed open the door to her little office.

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The Girl in the Water – Chapter 3

It was full dark by the time Bob Rather knocked on the door. Past dinner time by more than an hour but Jean hadn’t wanted to be caught eating. It seemed disrespectful somehow. She knew of course that nothing she did would make any difference to the poor dead girl, but the ordinary everydayness of chicken casserole would be an embarrassment in front of whoever came to take her statement.

“Are you alright Jean. If you like I could ask Eileen to come and sit with you for a while.”

“I’m fine Bob. I keep going over it a bit in my mind of course, but I’m alright.”

“Well I have to make my notes, and I have to offer you counselling.”

“Counselling?”

“Yes. You’ve had a trauma, you can go and talk to someone about it.” He looked abashed as he said it. He knew her well enough to be embarrassed about the offer.

“Well, I shan’t need that I don’t think.”

“No, well just so I can say I offered it, that’s another box ticked. Sorry Jean.

“Now then, you pulled her out of the water.”

“Yes, I realise that I probably shouldn’t have, but it was instinct more than anything. I didn’t want to just leave her there.”

“Did you try any sort of CPR or anything. You did the course didn’t you, at the WI when Eileen did it?”

Jean shook her head. “Yes, I did the course but – with her, the girl no, I didn’t, there was no point. It wouldn’t have made any difference.”

“You were sure of that?”

She paused before answering. He wasn’t looking at her, but rather staring down at the notebook in his hand. Jean took a deep breath. “She was dead, Bob.”

The policeman didn’t answer. She was swept with a terrible doubt and guilt that turned her stomach over. Could she have saved her, should she have done more?

Bob filled the awkward silence, “So, you didn’t hear anything before you found her, you didn’t see anyone else? There was nobody else around at all?”

“No, nothing, no-one.”

It didn’t take long to finish the rest of the statement and as she signed it, though she knew it would be too early, and anyway probably against the rules, she couldn’t help trying to pump the sergeant for a bit of information. “So, have you found out who she is?”

He shook his head. “Last I heard they were still working on that.”

“Do they know how she came to fall in?”

“Oh, come on Jean, you know as well as I do that it’s far too early for us to make any sort of decision about that. They’ll do the post mortem, have a good old look at the canal there, all of that stuff. Ha, I reckon you know as much about it as I do. You with all your research and books.”

“I know the routine but that’s not the same as doing it, is it?”

“Well, anyway it’s too early to know very much at all. Look Jean, I have to be off, everyone’s running about like blue arsed flies, ‘scuse my language. We’re short staffed as usual and there’s those robberies over in Calthorne demanding attention, and now this. Well you can imagine. But, are you sure you’re alright?”

“I’m absolutely fine Bob, truly I am.”

“All right then. But it you get a bit wobbly in a day or so just give us a ring. Some people do, once the initial reaction wears off.”

“I will, thank you. But really, I’m sure I’m going to be fine. I know you’re limited to what you can tell me but, it would be good to know when you find out who she was. I hate having to keep thinking of her as ‘The Girl’.”

“Well, we don’t know yet. No bag you see. No handbag, no phone. Of course, we’re dragging the canal. Might put a diver in if we can afford it, but that’s not up to me thank goodness. Tell you what though, if I do hear her name, I’ll give you a call. Just to set your mind at rest eh?” He tapped the side of his nose. “Just between you and me.”

“Thanks Bob. I’d really appreciate that.”

She watched as he walked down the drive and then pushed the door closed and leaned with her back against it. The casserole didn’t really tempt her and so she turned off the oven, poured a glass of red wine and climbed up to the office in the little front bedroom. Maybe a couple of hours editing would settle her mind, close down the day calmly, and give her at least a chance of sleep.

***

Every time she closed her eyes the image on the back of her eyelids was the canal bank. The damp undergrowth and the little moorhen hiding in the reeds. She saw, over and over, the body, dark hair floating weed on dirty water and arms spread wide. After a couple of hours Jean gave up the fight. She knew that she had to deal with this. Once before, years ago, she had been involved in a nasty traffic accident which had left one old man dead. The aftermath had plagued her for months playing and replaying in her mind until she thought she would go mad with it. She had fought her way through it and since then she had dealt with the worst of all traumas. She had lost James so very quickly to prostate cancer, and after that had thought nothing would have much effect on her again. It seemed she had been wrong and this poor dead girl just would not leave her alone.

She made a cup of fruit tea and went into the office to fire up the computer. She would write it all down. She would move it from her mind where it circled constantly and she would lay it down on the screen.

She put down the date as a heading. She made a note about the rain and then the details about the girl, her trousers and top, the long dark hair. She noted the time that she had gone for her walk. As she typed she felt the tension ease. This is what she knew, it was what she did. Hour after hour she made small black marks on virtual paper and as if by magic she wove worlds, and lives and happenings. It wasn’t always of any use and sometimes she would delete a whole day’s work in an instant. She never regretted it, she was a fierce critic of her own stuff, and if she wasn’t happy then, just as if it were a crumpled piece of paper from the old days she would put the document in the bin.

This time though she was happy with the way it worked. The description came easily. She typed with her eyes closed, redrawing the trees, the water and the dreadful floating corpse. As happened on some rare and magic occasions the thing developed, took on a life of its own and fact and fancy, truth and fiction melded so that by the time she had finished there was the start of something. She knew the trick had worked and she would be able to go back to bed and sleep.

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The Crossing Places – Book Review

After a few failures in reading choices lately this was recommended by a friend whose judgement has been reliable before and again she was spot on.

I truly looked forward to picking this up when I had a chance to read.

The main character is a refreshing change, she is a very believable human being. She struggles with life but at the centre there is real strength I think. The supporting cast were interesting and unusual and though I did actually guess the ‘baddie’ quite early on there were enough little red herrings to make me doubt now and then.

The descriptive writing was very good. I don’t know Norfolk very well but I was taken there and plonked down in the midst of dangerous tides, quick sands and wild weather – very good indeed. There was a teeny little disclosure at the end which was perfectly placed and heartwarming and has made me very impatient to read the next in the series. I am reliable informed by my friend that they get better – I am really pleased to have found a new series.

There are a couple of things in this that made me wonder, just now and then things that I wasn’t totally convinced by but at the end this is fiction and so pretty much, what the author says is what is true in her own reality.

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The Girl in the Water – Chapter 2

“Do you want me to arrange for a car to take you home?” The police sergeant laid his hand gently on Jean’s shoulder.

“No, thanks Bob. I think I’d rather walk. I’ll just go back the way I came. It’ll give me a moment to collect myself.”

“Are you sure, Jean?”

“Yes, I am thanks. How’s Eileen?”

“Oh fine, she’s fine. Made a chocolate cake for the WI meeting. Wouldn’t let me have any.”

“Ha, quite right too.” As she spoke, Jean poked at Bob Rather’s bulging jacket.”

He glanced down and grinned. “Aye well. Look are you sure you’re alright. You’ve had a nasty shock.”

“Yes, it was. The poor, poor girl. But honestly. I think I’ll just walk back. Will you need to come and see me later, or will it be someone else?”

“Oh, I’ll come. It’s just a formality you know that. Just so we have it all down. What happened and so on. Well you know the drill, with all that research you do. Be a couple of hours I should think.”

“Well, I’ll be there Bob. I’m sorry I pulled her out, I realise it wasn’t the sensible thing to do but I couldn’t just leave her there, not in that cold, dirty water.”

“Don’t you worry about it, anyone would have done the same. It’s just a shame that it was too late. No, don’t you worry about it, not for a minute. Come on, get yourself off home, have some sweet tea, for the shock you know.” He gave her a final wan smile and then turned to go back and join the growing crowd on the canal bank. A plastic tent was being erected. There were blue lights flashing against the darkening grey sky and a small crowd of onlookers gathering on the bridge, peering over, though there was little for them to see now.

***

Surprisingly, the rain had blown through and Jean pushed back the hood of her jacket and strode away from the hubbub.  There were many more people around, most of them heading towards the bridge and the fuss. It irritated her a little, they could do nothing, no-one could do anything, it was all too late. But then people were drawn to drama and she shouldn’t judge. In fact, she knew that if that wasn’t the case then her books wouldn’t have even the modest sales that they did have. She knew that writing crime fiction was pandering to the ghoul in the average person. She felt a pang of guilt, her characters grew and lived and died in the strange passages of her brain and her imagination and no-one was hurt and no-one had the hideous job of telling the relatives what had happened.

She wondered if that task would fall to Bob. Well, if it did she knew him to be a kind and sympathetic soul. It was hard though, wasn’t it? surely having to perform that sort of duty would impact his days for a while to come. And so, her active writer’s mind was off on its way, down the tangents and by-ways that she travelled mentally and that she then stored up for the next story, or the next.

A jogger was moving along the bank at quite a pace towards her and barely had she registered his presence but he was just a few yards away. She heard him breathing, heard the pound of his feet, dull thuds on the damp soil.

She held up a hand, shook her head. At first it seemed that he would simply swerve around her and carry on but, frowning now, a little irritated, he began to slow.

“I’m sorry, you won’t be able to get past.”

“How do you mean?” He had ceased the forward movement but was still shifting, not exactly running on the spot but moving his legs and jigging back and forth in front of her. “The police are there. They have the tow path blocked off. I’m sorry.”

“Oh, what’s happened then?”

She shook her head. She wasn’t one to court drama and shock in real life, she saved that for the hours in front of her computer. “An incident I suppose they’d call it. Anyway, I’m afraid you won’t be able to get past.”

He nodded at her, “Okay, thanks then. Thanks.”

He moved aside to let her carry on. As she walked away she was aware of him watching her. When she reached the bend, she turned and glanced back and he was in the same place as before, his hands on his hips but otherwise still. Their eyes met and held for a moment and then he looked away towards the bridge and the crowd. When she reached the gate in the fence she turned again and he was walking slowly along the bank behind her, in the direction that he had originally come. His jog was ruined she supposed.

***

She pushed the door closed behind her and dragged off her jacket, brushing at the mud on the hem at the back. She’d hang it in the conservatory to dry. “I’m back Slumpy.” The fat ginger cat appeared from behind the kitchen door, licking his lips. She bent and picked him up and cuddled him close. The warmth of him, the low reverberation of his purr and just the pure living sense of him was a real comfort. Now that she was home she allowed herself to give way to just a few tears. Sadness for the young life lost, sadness for her own part in the dreadful business and a little for the withdrawal of adrenalin that had held her together until she was back in her own space.

She put the cat down and went upstairs to strip off her wet, dirty trousers. She wrapped herself in her dressing gown and then at last was able to pour herself a glass of sherry, a little early, but surely there was no harm in it, under the circumstances.

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The Girl in the Water

‘Ere her limbs frigidly stiffen too rigidly,
Decently, kindly, smooth and compose them,
and her eyes close them.’

The Bridge of Sighs by Thomas Hood.

****

It had been one of those days. The rain was thin and feeble but enough to soak everything through and cause the gutters to drip, and the windows to be splashed and smeared. Jean had finished her housework and made a few little cakes ready for the WI meeting and now she felt muggy and confined. She peered out of the French doors into the neat little back garden.

The daffodils were ruined, their bright heads splashed with soil, the delicate stems bent or broken. She turned away and walked through to the living room, plumped up a cushion She was bored. She knew what she should be doing but hadn’t the heart for it, not just now. “Oh sod it.” She spoke aloud into the silent house. She had begun talking to herself when James died and the house had been so very quiet, now, it was just a part of who she was and she did it shamelessly and without any sort of worry. There was no-one to hear her, what did it matter?

Back in the hallway she pulled her green waxed jacket from the cupboard and fished out the walking shoes that were stuffed onto the shelf after the last ramblers meeting. As she opened the front door she called upstairs. “I’m going for a walk Slumpy.” The cat didn’t answer, but then he didn’t usually.

It wasn’t cold, though the rain was heavier now, setting in for the night probably. Jean pulled up her hood and turned right into the lane. She would go down by the canal. Already the cool, damp air was making her feel better. She took in a couple of deep lungful’s, glanced at her watch. Half past four. Just time for a brisk pass between two of the bridges, back through the park and then a glass of sherry before dinner. She smiled.

The tow path was puddly but there hadn’t been enough rain yet to turn the walkway into mud. She strode out, setting a good pace, felt her blood begin to course more energetically through her veins, her heart begin to beat just that little bit faster.

There was no-one around, not surprising really, everyone would either be still out at work, or hunched in front of computer screens in their spare bedrooms or garage extensions. She should be doing that herself, she had a deadline after all. She pushed the guilt aside, the exercise and fresh air would clear her mind, perhaps the niggly little plot glitch would resolve itself by the time she went back. She squared her shoulders and breathed yet more deeply.

She was approaching the bend, the first bridge was just beyond and then about a mile to go and she would climb the little flight of steps and turn back on the route. Her limbs were warming, joints loosening.

He shoulders felt stiff, she shrugged and flexed and swung her arms, turned her head back and forth.   The rain was heavier now and the light was grey and miserable, really it would make sense to cut the walk short. She turned and looked across the rain dimpled water. The bank on the other side was sheer and covered in shrubs and weeds. There was a Moorhen hiding in the dripping reeds. She thought there was a car parked beyond the hedge but it was only the glint of light on something shiny, paintwork perhaps, a window or a trick of the watery light on wet foliage. The world was deserted and the thought of her warm home, the glass of sherry and a bit of Mozart before she started dinner was more appealing than this trudge in the wet.

She would cut the walk short, just as far as the first bridge and then the quicker route through the park.

As she turned the corner her life changed, inescapably and in many ways forever.

She gasped.

The body was partly submerged. It was a woman, not much more than a girl. She was dressed in trousers of some sort and a short top which had become bunched up above her breasts revealing a skimpy flowered bra. Her arms were spread wide in the water and it was obvious immediately that she was dead.

Jean wasn’t aware that she was muttering as she ran forward and knelt on the soggy ground. “Oh no, no. Oh please no, be alright. Please be alright. I’m coming, you’re alright.” In truth she understood already, deep down that there was no hope, that the poor soul was beyond help, and that really the correct thing would be to leave her where she was, floating against the bank. But still, she leaned out over the dirty, grey water and pulled at the green fabric until she could get a grip under the cold stiff shoulders and, panting and puffing, hauled the woman out onto the grass.

There was no longer any point pretending, hoping. This girl was absolutely beyond help. Jean flopped back onto her behind. She drew in a deep breath, regained control.

She pulled her mobile phone from her pocket and dialled the emergency number.

While she waited she stroked back the long dark hair. It was too late to worry about disturbing the crime scene, she knew that. As a fiction writer she was well aware of what she should have done, what she shouldn’t have touched, but as a human being she just wanted to show this poor young soul some love, some pointless comfort and a little respect.

She wiped the grey, stiff face with her handkerchief, straightened the skinny legs and folded slender hands over the girl’s flat stomach. Lines from the famous poem ran through her mind, and she tried to decently, kindly smooth and compose the frigid stiffened limbs and did indeed close the blind, staring eyes.

The sound of sirens in the distance stilled her now and she wiped at her own face with the cuff of her sweater. “You poor, poor love. I am so sorry for your pain.” Later when she played and replayed the scene in her head she wondered how she had known, what instinct had told her that there had been pain and not just misfortune.

She shook her head and then pushed to her feet to wave at the police men who had jumped from the car as it screeched to a halt on the narrow bridge.

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A Melancholy Moment

Just a melancholy moment, from a drowning, saddened eye

When my gaze was pulling seaward and my heart gave me a sigh

On a dim and misty evening, just before the close of day

A memory of my loving with a man who couldn’t stay.

And I saw him in the sea mist, on the strand below the dune

His being just a memory here and gone too soon

I remembered how he held me, how his body fit to mine

How we loved beneath the sea grass, our passion, true and fine.

Before old Neptune took him, took him to his breast

Deep into the greenness to find his endless rest.

I saw him in the magic of the soft descending night

But I knew it for a spectre and I turned away in fright

I have come again at sunset, at the rising of the moon

But my love is lost forever for I turned away too soon.

(c) D M Dickson 2017

 

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New Thing

Might have started a new story but it’s at that stage where it’s not really sure yet what it wants to be. We’ve got

A note found under a rock

A dead body – well of course.

A tiny diamond ring

A writer who had found herself involved with it all.

 

We shall see what happens.

 

Watch this space.

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The Huddle

A silly poem about Penguins. I wrote this for a little competition that we have each week. I thought I’d share it.

huddle

We’re standing in a huddle, we’re circling toe to toe

We make a ring of cuddle, until it’s time to go.

With backs against the wind chill, heads lowered ‘gainst the storm

It’s how we share the burden and keep the egglets warm.

These springtime nights are endless, the stars are frosted ice

But still we hold our vigil, because it’s worth the price.

And when our shift is ended and the eggs give up their prize

That’s when we turn to seaward, that’s where salvation lies

The trek back to the ocean is sealed within our hearts

For we know of nature’s magic, it’s where the circle starts.

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Chapter 58 – The Legacy

So, anyway – When I started this I thought it might be a short story and a bit of a break from writing novels – and The Truth Series. However the story had other ideas and so we now have this. I have really enjoyed writing it and the good news is that there is a real possibility that it will be published – after edits and so on and with a different title.- in a few months from now.

I am chuffed of course but I am also aware that when I started this I promised that I would post the complete story. And so, here we are the final chapter. Due to the developments I will take it down in a couple of days. If you have been following the story but have missed any just contact me in any of the usual ways and I’ll send you a PDF of the whole thing.

The Legacy.  Final Chapter 

See note above.

 

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