"You didn't invite them in, did you, Sheila?"
Grandfather Jessup clasped my biceps in his feeble grip and searched my face, worry akin to fear darkening his eyes. I patted his liver-stained hand and ... [+]
‘It's just a shack,' Julia had said. ‘Don't say you weren't warned.'
I turn the key and push the door inwards, leaving my bag to rest on a small square of bricks by the door.
She's right. This is a shack. It smells old, cold and empty. Something has lived and died here. I stand by the door, trapped between the smell inside and the cold outside. I choose outside, take heaving gulps of air, go in again. It'll have to do. There's a couch in the corner, a broken table lamp, a footstool. I didn't expect white sheets and patchwork quilts and sandalwood incense. I did expect a bed. A fireplace. A clean glass.
I bring in the rugs from the car and spread them on the rickety sofa. I wrap myself up in my favourite winter coat and put on thicker socks because I know my feet will be cold. I take out the book I intend to read, check the door, leave the kitchen light on, pour a glass of water, swallow the pills and lie down.
I don't think about the kids or their father. Their lives no longer intersect mine. The door slammed, the slap delivered, the abuse hurled, the friends divided.
Julia will know what to expect when she reads the letter I posted on the way here.