I was reading my morning paper, flicking to the property pages. My morning ritual of looking for houses for sale. And there it was. My cottage, the one I had been dreaming about for half of my life. I knew every piece of furniture and fittings that I would buy to put in it.
I put on my coat and went straight to the estate agents in town. The young man, who said his name was Malcolm, asked me, “And when would you like to view this property?”
“There is no need; I know this cottage very well…”
He looked a little puzzled, but I carried on talking. “There is no chain on either side, a cash purchase, how quickly can I move in?”
Recovering his composure, he said, “With any luck, in about six weeks.”
Signing the papers made my body tingle, and I left the estate agent’s feeling about ten feet tall. On my way out of the door, I heard Malcolm say to his colleague, “There’s a young lady who knows what she wants.”
With a smile on my face, I telephoned work to say I wouldn’t be in that day, that I would be taking the leave owed to me. Then I went on the hunt for everything I would need. My family and friends thought I had lost my mind, but I knew better. I was having the time of my life searching the markets.
Nearly six weeks had passed and I had just one more item that was proving difficult to find. Maybe they were right and I had lost my mind thinking I could recreate everything I saw in a dream. The next day I had a phone call telling me I could pick up the keys to the cottage. My heart skipped several beats and once the keys were in my hand, I searched every shop for miles. I had found everything but for one thing, a blue and white stone for my coffee table.
I have lived in my cottage for three weeks and still looking for the last piece of the puzzle. There was a market in the town at the weekend, maybe I would find it there. Saturday couldn’t come soon enough, and looking at all the stalls, I wondered if I would be lucky today. The stone I was looking for was small enough to hold in the palm of my hand. I had walked around twice before I noticed an elderly woman tucked away in the corner of the market. She was polishing something in her hand and I was dumbstruck when she placed my stone on the table in front of her. I picked it up with no hesitation and asked, “How much?”
She looked up at me with strange pale eyes. “To some, it would be priceless. To others, I would say to be careful. It is just £5.” Handing over my money, I left the market feeling elated to have completed my mission. I hadn’t wanted to hand it back to the woman to have it put in the small paper bag she offered. I put the stone in my pocket, leaving my hand wrapped around it. I felt a strong vibration, so I took my hand from my pocket, half-expecting to see a mark on it, but there was nothing to see.
Back home, after I hung up my jacket, I put the stone on the kitchen counter beside my phone. I switched on the kettle to make a cup of coffee and as I sat drinking it, I looked at the stone, wondering why it had been so important to find it. Picking it up, I moved to the living room and the coffee table where the stone belonged, but something stopped me from reaching across to put the last piece of my miracle in place.
I put my coffee cup on the table, just as the phone rang. I stood up and absent-mindedly put the stone down beside my cup. It was my job, wanting to know when I would be coming back. I said the date should be in the book and hung up. When I made my way back to the living room, the stone was sitting in the middle of the table and the room looked strange, it was fading, the furniture disintegrating, turning into light, tiny coloured lights floating in front of my eyes. It was so beautiful. I reached out my hand to touch the stone, to take it back, but I could not reach it. Whatever was happening, it was happening to me too. I could feel myself melting away…
Anita Dawes 2018