Fourth December Blog. 8-12-14
The Way Home.
Ruby stuck her shiny new key into the lock. New? Because she had taken up residence in this cottage only two weeks before and the key had not had time to become dirty or worn since it was handed over on payment of the first months rent.
A little stiff, she thought as she turned the key, hearing the faint sound the tumblers made as the lock unlocked and the door opened to let her in. Dragging her bags into the small hallway, she closed the door and locked it back up. There was no way Ruby was going out again tonight. Clouds had gathered on the way home. Flakes of snow started drifting down, making ridges of wet white ice on the windshield, which were swept aside by the wipers, to leave rivulets of melted snow running down the side of the glass.
Moving cautiously down the hallway, she found the kitchen door and opened it. Without tripping over boxes, as yet unpacked, she found her way to the light switch and flipped it. The sight was somewhat depressing. Several boxes, placed haphazardly around the wooden table in the middle of the room stuck in her way.
“Got to unpack those very soon,” she told herself as she retraced her steps to unpack the bags she had brought in. Biscuits were on top, so they would not get smashed. Then a dozen eggs. Ruby winced as she saw a crack in one egg. Lifting it out of the box, she took out a cup and cracked the egg into it. There was plenty of room in the refridgerator for the cup. In fact. That was almost all she would have in it. She put all the salads in the salad drawer, butter in the door and a few odds and ends.
When she was done, she filled the kettle, put a teabag in her favourite mug and waited for it to boil. Shoes next, while she was waiting, Her feet hurt after all the shopping. The Post Office was chocker but she had to wait to send packages abroad to friends and relatives. There was such a queue, and everyone was in a bad mood. It was noisy in there and the heating was turned up. Made her feel a bit sick. But it was all done now. She did not know anyone in the area. Two weeks was not really long enough to get to know neighbours let alone anyone in the town.
Ruby had moved because a new job had come along and living in the little town was nicer than living in the big city. Peaceful surroundings, cleaner air, well, it seemed cleaner: fresher, lots more trees and she just caught the end of the autumnal drop. Lots of different trees whose colours were phenominal. Unlike the city trees, chosen by local Boroughs more for reasons of cleaning the air than for seasonal colouration or the edification of passers by. Mostly these local trees and bushes grew wild, or at least, they seemed to be in no particular order as they would be if planted by the Local Council.
The kettle whistled loudly, screeching in her ear that the water was hot enough to make a gorgeous cup of tea. Clearing a space on the table, Ruby poured the boiling water into her cup, added sweetners. The pouring water sounded like nectar to her ears. Steam rose and the aroma issuing from the bag almost overpowered her scent glands. A dash of milk and, lwhilst it settled, she removed her coat and hat, picked up the tea cup and walked into the living room. Turning on the fire, she sat down in the armchair and began to enjoy the tea.
Winter had slipped under the door when she wasn’t looking. Slipped in and grabbed her by the coat tails. Her tea grew cold facste than she could drink it. Ruby got up, drew the curtains, turned the electric fire up higher and turned on the t.v. An early news broadcast drew her attention to jat wa being said, something nasty. A bomb blast back in town. She concentrated, it was where she worked until recently. Oh my God! Ruby still had friends working there. Why?
Sirens blared out from the speakers. Fire engines racing to the scene were being followed by outside broadcast cameras. Papers littered the ground, still fluttering down from higher floors where glass had been shattered. Chaos!
Ruby had no idea if people were injured. Probably! The corners of her eyes moistened and a tear dropped from each one. Lillian Tonfield worked on the sixth floor. They had often eaten lunch together over in the park. From the camera angle though, the sixth floor looked intact. Smoke was issuing from windows up on the tenth or eleventh floor. She could not quite tell which. There were a couple of girls she knew fairly well that were sited on the twelfth floor or above, she was not quite sure. But whatever, it did not look good!
Engrossed in what the comnentator was saying, she barely heard the knock on the front door.
The knock became a little more insistent, breaking through her reverie. Rising and switching off the t.v., Ruby made her way to the door. The closer she came, the more insistant was the knocking.
“I’m coming,” Ruby yelled, annoyed that she was being disturbed at such an inconvenient moment. The volume of the knocking increased.
“Alright! Alright!” Ruby tussled with the key, turning it, then opening the door. She should have checked through the spy hole first, but, no matter.
“Who are you? What do you want?”
On the step stood a man and a woman, both wearing long grey ‘gowns’, the only way Ruby could describe them.
“I believe you know Marie Letchfield,?”
The woman piped up then. “He’s Adire and I am Hroan. I am interested in your friend Della Manners. They were killed today!”
Ruby slumped to the floor. No! Not both of them? She could hardly take a breath. Somehow she found her voice, ” and Lillian?” she asked, though why these people would know, she had no idea. Who were they, anyway ?
“Not yet!” said the woman. ” I cannot give you that answer. She hovers, is all I can say.”
“What do you mean, she hovers?” Ruby felt as if her whole body had collapsed, ad Indeed, it had! She had not realised she was on the floor, though she could feel cold beneath her legs, which were quaking. Her breathing was tight also. Who were they?
“Let me help you up,” offered Hroan.
Allowing the woman to give her support, Ruby managed somehow to struggle to her feet, Hroan holding both her elbows, from behind. Her whole body was shaking, and although the news was bad, she had not known the two women that well? Hroan spotted a chair down the hallway, and, supporting Ruby, she manhandled her down the hallway. Just a few steps and they reached the little chair further along, that fitted a small alcove. Hroan managed to get the woman sat down on it. Adire followed them both, closing the front door behind him.
‘I don’t understand,” groaned Ruby.
“You are not meant to, my dear,” crooned Hroan. “Normally, we would not be here. Adire and I have been seconded to this duty. So many, so fast.” Hroan turned to Adire and said, “so sad, my dear. So very sad.” Adire nodded his head.
Hroan knelt in front of Ruby, reaching out to stroke her hair. “My dear, you would not see us but, …this is a special case. There are so many, and arrangements have to be made.”
Ruby started to cry again. “Of course, but don’t their families make the arrangements?”
“Which arrangements, my dear?” said Hroan.
“Well, the funeral arrangements. Isn’t that what you mean?” Ruby’s eyes sparkled as the tears flowed faster.
“Oh no,” said Hroan. “We do not deal in funerals. We deal with souls, as you would call them.” She turned to Adire and shrugged her shoulders, whispering, “she really does not understand. Is it the shock? Should we disappear? I do not think she is aware of who we are!”
Adire nodded his head. “They have no family for us to contact. Others, with whom they were acquainted on a daily basis. Workmates, I think you call them, all went at the same time. You, my dear, are the only one we can contact. Who ‘knew’ them.”
“Me? Surely! I thought Della had children?” Ruby honestly remembered Della telling her about a child, two possibly? This was all so frightening, so sad, so ……. Ruby’s eyes flickered and closer as she sank into a faint.
“She is not strong enough, Hroan,” muttered Adire. “I think we have to leave her. Come back later when this has time to permeat through her mind.”
“i would seem the best solution,” replied Hroan. But I fear for the two Nefresh. We may lose them entirely.”
“That cannot be helped, right now. All we can do, has been done. We need new orders to cover the situation. Come! Speed may help.” Adire and Hroan left Ruby in the hallway. She would awaken soon, remembering little of her two visitors. Little, but just enough to prick her mind.
### This is a new piece. Not sure where it is going, as yet. Wonder what will happen? Short story, narrative, novel beginnings? Who knows?
Be happy, my friends.
Ps if there are any typos, my apologies but I do not have tine right niw yo change them. I am in full flow.