As she opened the door, the house seemed extremely quiet. Jean knew that Sarah was out at a sleepover. Tigger the cat was no doubt asleep somewhere and she was not expecting her husband Tom back until the end of the week and yet the house was eerily quiet.
“Anybody in?” she called ahead though she knew there would not be.
“Get a grip! ” she chided herself stepping fully into the hallway, closing the front door behind her as she did so.
She flicked on the light switch and scanned each corner of the space as each lit up revealing no surprises. She passed into the lounge, then kitchen, doing the same. What was it? Not even the hum of electrics could she detect. She grabbed a hiking stick from the hall as she started upstairs. Clenching it tightly and poised for action, she threw back each door.
No one was there, nothing happened. Her anxiety levels dropped marginally and the pounding in her chest steadied it’s pace. Jean was no neurotic woman, prone to anxiety attacks at the rustle of wind, her fears had roots in a recent event.
It was just two weeks previous that Magdalen Street had been at the centre of local news. Her neighbours two doors away, a young couple, had been attacked in their own home. The two, though not fatally injured, had spent a week in hospital with the husband undergoing surgery for a broken arm and broken jaw sustained while he tried to defend himself. The wife had broken her ankle falling downstairs as she tried to flee her attackers. The attack took place in the early hours of the morning and the police believed the attackers were young drug addicts who had broken in hoping to find items worth selling to feed their habit. The couple had returned from holiday that evening and it appeared the burglars had known the house had been empty but not realised that the owners had returned. John, the husband had heard them on the stairs and got up to investigate prompting a frenzied attack by the then cornered intruders.
Since then whenever she came home, Jean was alert. Tom had said “be cautious, but don’t be over anxious, lightening rarely strikes in the same place twice”. Jean knew this wasn’t true for burglary. She read the papers, she watched the news; burglaries, like buses, she’d noted, often came in threes. She was therefore taking no chances.There was one last place to check and she felt her heart rate, once again, step up a pace: the basement.
The basement was no longer dark nor dank since it had been tanked but it still seemed the perfect place for some misceant to hide. She fought with herself, “Why would anyone go down there?” but she had to be certain. She gripped the hiking stick again, opened the door and switched on the light. Hello!” she called out as she descended, “hello! “
At the foot of the stairs she gazed into the basement room which was crammed full of boxes, suitcases, furniture. She found herself moving boxes aside looking for any small person who might be kneeling, or stooped over to escape her gaze. Nothing there. “You idiot! ” she hissed at herself. She turned, walked back up the stairs, turned off the light and shut the door. She stood still for a moment, feeling the vibrations or lack of them in the house, something was still wrong!
It was then that she noticed the note on the shelf of the fireplace. She reached forward , picked it up and read in Sarah’s calligraphy like handwriting,
” Mum, I hear what you’ve been saying about saving money, switching the telly and computer off so I thought I’d make a start. Just left the fridge on, fed the cat and let him out. Be back tomorrow. Luv You! Sarah.”
Jean started to laugh and then she could not stop. Tears rolled down her face, she wiped them away with the back of her hand.” What a time to listen to me Sarah” she giggled almost hysterically with relief.