The Long Gallery is destroyed. Heirlooms and furniture are reduced to dust. The pool table in the centre of the room has perished. Only the portraits have survived, generations of the family she hastily married into.
Our new home. Every evening the same routine – switching off the downstairs lights in sequence, pausing at the last.
Waiting in the dark is the ghostly child, the cliché, the best my imagination can muster.
The boy is a fussy eater.
His father stresses this to the waitress as she takes their order, his mother describing instructions in detail, her fingers drawing on the table as she talks.
Two cars face each other on a single-track road, neither wanting to back up for the other.
Minutes are spent mouthing silent insults at each other, before both drivers stubbornly continue forwards. The vehicles barely fit the width of the lane – squeezing onto the verges and scraping past each other in slow motion.
The hotel manager storms outside to confront the Mayor, who has once again parked illegally outside of the hotel. The disabled parking bay is clearly marked as such, and for the third time this week the Mayor has chosen authority over rules and common decency.
We huddle together on the bench, waiting to see if she will appear.
The markings on the gravestone are now impossible to read, eroded by the rain and the five years of waiting. Every anniversary we are hopeful of her visit, a sign of her forgiveness that could finally set us free.
The bus pulls into the High Street, heaving with high expectation.
Inside it is standing room only. All around me disputes over seating are threatening to escalate. Strangers find themselves cushioned up against each other, not knowing who or what to hold on to for support. It has been an uncomfortable fifteen-minute journey.