HomeWell, Reader Meet Author has only been going for the best part of a year, and with me listed as a contributor all that time - so it's about time I actually got round to posting a little something.
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The light switch clicks on.
At the far end of the room thick flowery curtains hang heavy to the floor, shutting out the night. A bowl of fruit – oranges, apples, pears – is positioned in the centre of the low coffee table. Against one wall a dark green sofa; against the other an antique cabinet, proudly polished to a dazzling gleam. Behind its glass-paned doors are stacked blue patterned plates, cups and saucers – the best china, reserved for visitors. On top, porcelain figurines and a pair of silver-framed photographs – a man in uniform; the same man in trunks, on a sandy beach, smiling at the camera, the sun catching his bare shoulders. A gilt carriage clock ticks in the silence. Ten to four.
She is on her way to the kitchen for a glass of water, but something has made her stop. She looks through the doorway again. Neat, tidy, just so. Everything in its right place. Familiar. Secure. Home.
And yet somehow not.
Not since that man had sat on the sofa, smoking that cigarette, tossing an orange from palm to palm. Not since that man had reached into the cabinet to finger the china, his breath misting the glass. Not since that man had pawed at the photographs. She can still see his fingerprints on their frames, even though she’s wiped and wiped and wiped to get them clean.
She shudders. The curtains hadn’t stopped what had been out there from getting in.
“What on earth do you think you’re doing?” she had shrieked, barely recognising her own voice, distorted as it was by panic, fear and anger. “GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!”
The man had looked up, unconcerned, and walked over to face her. He had stared coolly, unblinkingly, contemptuously into her eyes. He had smirked. His thin lips had parted.
“Hello Mum,” he had said.
The empty glass tumbles to the carpet.