It started to rain whilst she waited for the bus. Bridget watched it falling against the windows of the large bus station. She could see some of the reflections of the people around her too, but she was not paying attention anymore. A podcast was playing from her large headphones and she was caught up in that.
When the bus pulled up and she was first on, flashing her ticket and going to the back. Sitting down, she put her feet up the chair opposite and looked out if the window. She ignored anyone else getting on and though a few people shot her dirty looks, no one disturbed her. The ride home was quiet for late afternoon and by Bridget’s phone clock rush hour was still off for a little while.
She almost missed her stop, she was that caught up in the story telling podcast. She stood up, hitting a bell as she went and caught herself from behind thrown forward as the bus slammed to a halt. She thanked the diver and got off. The rain hit her unprotected hair and began soaking into the cotton jacket that she had luckily remembered to thrown before she went out.
She crossed the busy main road and hurried down the side street opposite. Terraced houses that had been built of the late nineteen hundreds cotton mill workers sat on both sides of the street. Most of the brick work and window frames looked new, but the houses were still weighed down in history and owl like in their wisdom.
Bridget’s feet came to a stop and she looked to the side. Her house with its white gate and white door loomed over her. It had always been home, but lately it had felt more like a prison. Bridget opened the gate and walked up the pathway. She opened her bag to dig for her keys, regretting not doing that on the bus.
Finding them, she let herself into the house. Standing in the tiny hallway, which had just enough room for a small coat rack on the wall, Bridget took her coat, shoes and headphones off. Then stepping into a medium size living room, which looked cosy and welcoming, she listened. The boiler was ticking in the background and the sink in the bathroom upstairs was still dripping, but there were no other sounds.
Letting go of a breath, Bridget carrying all her things walked down the living room. She stopped at the bottom of the staircase which divided the living room and kitchen up. She listened again, but hearing nothing else, went up. At the top, she turned to the left and went into her bedroom. She closed the door, locking the latch down before dumping her stuff the bed.
Quickly, she put her shoes on the floor and hung her jacket on the back of the door. Taking her notebook from her bag, she placed it on her desk and went to the window. Looking out of the raindrop covered glass, she could see the small empty back garden with its grey flagstone floor. Over the tall wood board fence, she could just make out the alleyway where she and her older sister had often played at jungle explorers and other games in the thick scrub like land.
Bridget pressed her warm forehead to the cold, damp glass and closed her eyes. She thought about her sister, imagining Briony as she now forever would be; a twelve year old girl on the cusp of being a teenager, laughing as she sat in a tree. She had been wearing a bright blue dress with a white frill edging, a matching sunhat with a long ribbon, white shoes and socks. It had been one of her Sunday best outfits. They had been playing in the church graveyard, sent there whilst mother had been taking to the vicar after the service. It had been a game of hide and seek which was Briony’s favourite and best game. Bridget had been looking for an age before she had heard giggling and looked up the yew tree.
She still could remember her sister’s smiling face then how it had turned to one of shock horror. A piercing scream echoed around the graveyard then a sudden silence.
Bridget stepped back from the window and looked at the marks she had left on the glass. Sighing, she went and sat at her desk, not sure why she had suddenly began thinking about her long dead older sister again. Opening her laptop, she slide over her notebook and whilst waiting for the home screen to load up, flipped through the notebooks pages. Stopping at the one she had been writing at the train station, Bridget looked at her notes.
They seemed good. With the descriptions of the couple at the table then the couple she had seen meeting up afterwards, being well detailed and useful for writing a story about. Calling up a blank page on the screen, Bridget began writing everything. The sound of the rain falling and her typing on the keyboard filled the house.
It was the sound of the front door opening and closing that made Bridget stop. She listened and heard footsteps in the living room then the kitchen, which was underneath her. There come rustling, cupboards opening, the sink tap then the TV coming on. Bridget pressed her lips together and looked at her screen. She had moved on from writing up her notes and was in the middle of making a story around the first couple.
She saved her work and closed her laptop down, even though a part of her did not want to. She got up, only now noticing how dark it was getting. She drew her curtains against the still raining sky and went to the door. She felt for the latch and opened the door. The hallway was cast into darkness, but at the bottom of the stairs was a pool of light.
Bridget headed down and into the living room. She stopped on the edge and saw her mother sprawled across the sofa watching TV. The news was on, but her mother did not really seem to be watching it. She was wearing her works uniform; a dark blue pinafore, a matching t-shirt underneath and black trousers. Her flat shoes were lying on the floor beside her black socked feet.
‘Hi, mum. Everything okay?’ Bridget asked.
‘Not really, but never mind….You had a good day, sweetie?’
Bridget nodded, ‘I’ll get the kettle,’ she said and went into the kitchen.
As she crossed the plastic covered floor, Bridget could only think about how tried her mother looked. Perhaps, she had always looked so, but she could not remember. She made two cups of tea and on handing her mum’s a cup, went and sat in the armchair opposite the TV. Silently they watched the news and drink.
‘What’s for dinner?’ Bridget finally broken in.
‘I don’t know…fish fingers?’ Her mother answered, sleepy.
Bridget rolled her eyes, but decided not to remind her mother that was twenty six now and not eight. Instead, she collected the cups and went in the kitchen to look. However, there wasn’t much in. Sighing, she decided they were going to have fish fingers, chips and peas. Getting everything together, she started cooking.
Afterwards, Bridget made an excuse about being tried and went to bed. Her mother mumbled a good night and settled on the sofa to watch a murder mystery series. Lingering for a few seconds, Bridget wanted to say something about her older sister, but decided not to. Making her mother think back to that time was just asking for trouble and it was not like they could bring her back anyway.
Bridget went to her bedroom and sat at her desk. She opened her curtains and looked out into the night. The rain was still tapping against the window in a soft comforting way. Letting the curtain fall back, she decided not to go on her laptop, but to get into bed. Laying down, she tried to read an anthology of short stories she had started some months back, but she could not concentrate.
Turning off the lights, she lay in the darkness, watching the shadows settling on the wall. Pulling up the duvet, she rolled over and looked up at the ceiling.
‘Briony? Are you there?’ Bridget whispered.
To Be Continued…