Picture the scene .....
It’s dark, very dark; the kind of dark that closes in on me and sharpens my senses. The clatter of my footsteps, with a rhythmic strident echo, bounces from the pavement beneath my feet. I feel the wind dance around me, invisible, first from one direction and then another as if playing hide and seek. But who has seen the wind? And there, a distant light; light only shines in the dark. It flickers and sparkles as the naked bough of a tree, robbed of its summer attire, nods and sways in its beam. I shiver as a shower of icy rain drops splatter my skin, and now my feet are splashing in unseen pools of water. I can just make out a gloomy doorway, the entrance to a little shop that a couple of hours ago was bathed in sunshine. I retreat into the calm of my temporary shelter just as the drizzle becomes a torrent; the roar of the rain assaults my ears. Then, as fast as it started, it stops; suddenly. Not a sound, until the piercing yap of a distant dog breaks the eerie silence. Without warning all around me begins to come into view, as a pale pool of light drifts downward from a silvery moon. I am no longer alone; my shadow now accompanies me on my journey. Soon we will be home. Soon I will be able to shut out foe that is the night. Not long now, just a few moments more.
You'll understand, in a while. PART FOUR
“When is Mummy coming?” Water dripped from her blond curls.
“In a while Amee” said Brian, but he was unable to look the child in the eye as he said it.
But Amee never saw mother again. Within days Brian and Maria took her to Australia where they started a new life with their new daughter. As for Amee’s mother Susan, she went to live with her parents. She had no desire to live in Heath House on her own. There were too many memories there, and in any case Brian had managed to change the ownership into his name during those heady six months they’d lived there together. Despite the best efforts of the police both at home and in Spain, the trail had gone cold and in time she reluctantly accepted that she would never again hold her beloved daughter in her arms. But Amee never gave up hope of seeing her mother again. She never believed Brian’s account of what had happened to Susan. She refused to believe that her mother had abandoned her. But she kept her doubts to herself, and counted down the years until she would be able to break away and start to search for the mother she knew still grieved for her.
Ten years passed, and one summer’s day Amee disappeared from her home and made her way back to London. She took a job as an assistant in a boutique in Camden and settled herself into a tiny bedsit in a rundown terrace house. She had no difficulty in locating the house she first lived in. There were wooden boards across the windows and the garden which once she’d played in was overgrown. Beside the gate a faded ‘for sale’ sign leaned to one side. She saw an elderly man working in the garden of the house opposite. She walked over to him and asked what had happened to the people who had lived there before. The old man told her that a little girl had disappeared from the house with her stepfather ten years ago and was never seen again. Her mother he told her, was seen there once or twice, then it was said that she ended up in a home after suffering from severe depression then died of a broken heart.
Amee managed to find the agents whose name on the sale sign. They said that it had been empty for years and was in a very dilapidated state. It had been repossessed by the mortgage company several years ago and such were the stories that surrounded it, nobody had ever wanted to view it. But Amee did. The agent was reluctant to accompany Amee and instead handed her a bunch of keys and let her go alone.
After struggling with the locks for several minutes, she eventually managed to push the door open. A musty damp smell filled the gloomy hallway. Something crunched under her feet. She looked down to see a broken picture frame and splinters of glass. There was a crumpled photograph lying beside it, but the image was faded and vague. She could just make out a young Brian standing on the left, but she couldn't see who the young woman was at his side. The stairs creaked as she cautiously made her way upstairs. In front of her, the door to her childhood bedroom stood open. The pink walls which once were covered in posters and pictures were bare. She made her way along the landing and entered the room which had once been her mother’s. There, strewn across the floor were dresses and skirts and blouses. She sank to her knees and held them to her face, but the years had robbed them of her mother’s sweet fragrance.
Amee locked the house up and returned the keys to the agent. She wandered deep in thought to a café and sat cradling a mug of coffee in her hands until it went cold. It was time for Amee to move on.
A few tables away, a disheveled woman sat alone with a photograph in her hand.