Through the still darknesss she thought she heard a faint sound. Or did she imagine it? The children were asleep upstairs. Perhaps one of them stirred. She leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. She was drifting away. A calm descended over her.
The light flickered back into life and she slowly opened her eyes. She stared at the empty fireplace and in her mind she could see Jimmy sitting on the rug with the kids trying to make pictures from the glowing red specks on the fireback behind the dancing flames.
Whoosh! She physically jumped when a cloud of soot fell down the chimney. There was the sound of frantic fluttering. More soot. A bloodcurdling screech.
The light went out again and the silence returned. She drew her knees up to her chin and sat shaking, afraid to move. There was a faint shuffling sound somewhere in front of her. First from the right then the left. Then nothing.
After a few minutes of silence she decided that she would have to make her way to the table where she remembered she had a candle and a lighter. Slowly she uncurled her body and gently put one foot and then the other, on the cold wooden floor. She raised herself upright, and took a step in the direction of the table holding onto a chair back for support. Left foot, right foot, and then she trod on the pile of discarded CDs she’d thrown on the floor. She slipped and fell and thumped her head on the table and sending the candle flying across the room.
Pit - pat -pit -pat. Something small was creeping around in the darkness The light came back on then immediately went out again. She saw nothing. Once more it came back to life, and for a brief second she was sure she saw Jimmy sitting on the chestnut leather Chesterfield. Then all was black again.
She screamed. ‘What are you doing to me? What have I done to you? Why are punishing me?’
‘Answer me! For Gods sake answer me’
Outside, the clouds cleared, and through the window a blanket of blue moonlight filled the room. She must have imagined him. Her mind was playing tricks. The sofa was empty.
Getting up from the floor her eye was drawn to something lying on the window ledge. Something dark, long and shiny. It was a black feather. And round it's quill a wedding ring. Jimmy's wedding ring.