"On arriving in the neighbouring town I looked at a noticeboard in the local shop to see if anyone was advertising their home for bed and breakfast. I could see little notices for everything except what I was looking for: wood varnishing, piano lessons, psychic, Reiki healing, bible study, Tuval throat singing choir, Gaelic lessons, second-hand baby buggy for sale. But nowhere for me to sleep"
"Where did you sleep the other night? You didn't come back to Mordan House."
No, that's true. I didn't.
I've gotten into the habit of leaving my car keys in the ignition. Sometimes people are apt to come along the driveway if they plan to climbThe Clansman, but since winter bit I haven't seen a single car outside of this house, so it's seemed more than safe to leave the keys in the car each day. As I stood outside of Mordan House after the events in the basement, I couldn't bring myself to go back inside. There was no sense of revulsion, not even fear really - just a kind of blockage, a wall of some kind, and it was this that prevented me from going back inside. There was ice all over the windows of the car, so I had to leave the engine running for at least ten minutes before the car was fit to drive. Glancing at the house as it grew smaller in the rearview mirror filled me with such relief, and almost happiness, that I knew I couldn't return to sleep there that night. But also I knew it would be impossible for me to sleep in the car as I'd done before - the temperature in this part of Scotland has been plunging well below freezing in recent weeks.
"I waited up for you. You left me alone in there."
I thought you were dead.
On arriving in the neighbouring town I looked at a noticeboard in the local shop to see if anyone was advertising their home for bed and breakfast. I could see little notices for everything except what I was looking for: wood varnishing, piano lessons, psychic, Reiki healing, bible study, Tuval throat singing choir, Gaelic lessons, second-hand baby buggy for sale. But nowhere for me to sleep. I mentioned this to the man behind the counter and he told me that he knew of someone who'd put me up no problem, giving me directions also. He must have recognised my face - I'd been in the shop a number of times - nevertheless, he didn't seem confused that a woman who lived locally would be looking for a bed for the night.
I felt so much relief that I wouldn't have to go back to the house. Even as I drove along a familiar street, pulled up outside a familiar house with familiar curtains and saw those selfsame curtains twitch as I got out of my car, I still felt relief - just suffused with an overwhelming tiredness. Even as the owner of the house opened the door and I saw one eyebrow raise haughtily, while the other one curved downwards almost sympathetically, it was still preferable to Mordan House.
"You may need to put down some newspaper," I said.
Mrs Ormsley smiled and glanced down at the ground before replying, "No newspaper required, I think. Mr Morrison from the shop called ahead, I've got a room ready for you. You look exhausted. Let's get you to bed."
I stepped inside the door, my lethargy increasing with every step.
"Sleep as long as you like. As long as you need to."
It seemed like mere minutes before I was lying in a bed that was wonderfully warm, smelling the cleanness of the bedding and feeling the comfort of the mattress beneath me. I smiled as if I was a little girl again, smiling right down to my toes, and I thought to myself: Stephanie Fey, I thought you were dead.
"No, not yet. Neither of us is dead yet."
In the morning, I woke up and realised I'd slept until after 11am. I anticipated sarcasm and attitude from Mrs Ormsley, but she had already left to do a shift at the library, leaving me a note about how I could get breakfast, saying also that I didn't owe her any money for staying over, especially when she hadn't been around when I woke up. I left a 'thank you' note of my own, and decided to have breakfast in one of the town's cafés instead, intent on starting to scrutinise the files I'd taken from Mordan House.
"Can't believe you stayed in that bitch's house. You're one sick lady."
Sounds like you're feeling a little better now, Kidman.
Yes, much better.