Caught Short

It’s my second night in the new house and boxes are lurking everywhere, waiting to trip me up in my midnight journey to the toilet downstairs. So I don’t go.

There has been yet another power cut and I have no idea where my candles or matches have hidden themselves in the frenzy of moving. I consider risking it and feeling my way in the dark, but the thought of being discovered weeks later, a bloated corpse at the bottom of the stairs freezes me in place. Buying an old house in the middle of nowhere is not always the romantic option. Still, it’s too late now.

I can hear the tappity-tap of typewriter keys above the gale.

Why can I hear someone pounding on my Olivetti in the middle of the night? It can’t be an intruder – no house-breaker would pause to bang out his magnum opus before searching for jewellery and credit cards. And more to the point isn’t your typical burglar a fair-weather breaker of the law? That storm would drown cargo ships. On a night like this, Jonny No-good will be snuggled up to his bleached-blond girlfriend, snoring gently.

I have to find out what’s going on.

I negotiate the stairs, any thoughts about safety completely gone. I knew the house was haunted when I bought it. The owners had tried to keep that little gem under wraps, but Eileen the neighbour had been only too keen to share the juicy story of a writer murdered by his wife as he reached the end of his life’s work. The typing had driven her mad, not to mention the loneliness of being married to someone who lived in his head most of the time.

It didn’t put me off – in fact, I knew it would be the perfect foil to my own angst-filled existence; a single woman, recently divorced, starting my life over again when I had expected to be winding down, resting on the laurels of my husband’s hard work. This could be a fabulous distraction. I hadn’t expected a visitation quite so quickly – I must be an empath, or whatever they call them.

I push the living room door open a crack, smiling inside as I picture the publicity that this will bring me. I imagine TV and radio serial rights, a book tour…

The crow stares at me, skittering and hopping across the floorboards, shaking its wings and tail feathers in the weak moonlight. The fireplace is littered with soot, dust and other debris blown in by the storm and dragged down the chimney by a stupid bird. 

No tortured soul.

No ghost-whisperer storyline for me.

Just a crow.

And me, weeing on the floor.

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