Kate has welcomed death from an early age. With no family to speak of and a brother she hates, she waits for death to take her away.
It speaks to her. Teases her, yet will not come for her.
Death takes those around her, making her desire for it greater than ever.
She wonders how much longer it will take for her time to run out…
On the way home, Kate picked up some lamb chops and some white wine for her lunch with Sam, inwardly still trying not to be angry with Michael. Who did he think he was? Regardless of the fact him turning up was something she had dreamed of for years, he still had the cheek of the devil.
There was an ambulance outside Janet’s house and Kate’s heartbeat accelerated as she walked towards it, wondering who it was for. As she drew closer, she saw Janet’s door was open and as she watched, a paramedic in a reflective yellow striped jacket was wheeling Janet out of her house in a wheelchair. She appeared to be asleep, her face pale and peaceful. What had happened?
She approached the ambulance. ‘Hello, how is Mrs Goldman? I’m her neighbour.’
The paramedic stopped for a second and looked at her. ‘The old dear took a tumble and we’re just taking her in to be checked over.’
‘How did she tumble, she has no stairs?’ Kate asked.
‘She must have been up on a chair, there was one overturned when we turned up.’ He grinned at her and climbed into the back of the ambulance. ‘She’ll be fine, see if she’s not.’
Kate had the strangest feeling Janet wouldn’t be ‘fine’. She was far too old to be taking a tumble.
She decided to spend the rest of the day in her studio after she had something to eat and if Janet wasn’t home by tomorrow morning, she would go and see how she was.
The rest of the afternoon was spent preparing the next canvas. This one was going to be a night scene, with the moonlight like a pathway across the water. That was the plan anyway, and that sometimes changed as her paintbrush often had a mind of its own.
As the afternoon faded into early evening, Kate found herself thinking about Michael a little more fondly than she had that morning. She had almost seemed rude, hadn’t she? God knows what he made of it.
She was in the kitchen, waiting for the kettle to boil when there was a knock at the front door. Who could have that be, she thought, wondering if it was something to do with Janet.
Kate’s heart was in her mouth as she opened the door to find Michael standing there with a small bunch of carnations clutched to his chest. She almost choked, and her first instinct was to slam the door, but for some strange reason, she couldn’t.
‘I’ve come to apologise, Kate. I shouldn’t have carried on as though nothing was wrong between us. No wonder you had nothing to say. Please let me in, so we can start again and talk properly.’
She glared at him. ‘How do you know where I live?’
‘I felt so bad after you left, I had to find you so I could apologise in person. I had no way of knowing if you would turn up tomorrow.’
‘But how did you know where I live?’
He had the grace to look sheepish. ‘I looked you up on the electoral roll. Lucky you still use your old name, or I would never have found you.’
Kate still hesitated, unsure whether to let him in or not. This was her private space; did she want him touching everything?
She already knew she would let him in, the effect he had on her was the same as ever, regardless of the history between them. ‘You had better come in then,’ she said, standing aside so he could pass. ‘And don’t think I have forgiven you because I haven’t.’
He turned and offered her the flowers. ‘They’re not a peace offering Kate; I just thought you would like them.’
She tried to accept them gracefully, knowing she would prefer to wrap them around his neck, and made her way to the kitchen to put them in water.
He stood in the doorway watching her, and it all seemed the most natural thing in the world as if he had done exactly that dozens of times before.
It suddenly occurred to her just how much she resented him showing up on her doorstep.
‘Nice place you have here, Kate. Been here long?’
Why did she automatically think he already knew the answer to that?
‘Not long ‘, she said, non-committedly. ‘And I will soon be moving on, anyway’.
He smiled, and there was just a hint of nervousness in his smile. Was it possible he was a little unsure of his reception?
He nodded at the back door. ‘What happened to the cat?’
The hair on the back of her neck twitched and it was all she could do not to march up to him and slap his face hard. ‘Why assume something happened to my cat? He could be sleeping in another room.’
His smile vanished, and she could see he was trying to think of a suitable answer. Whatever he said, she wouldn’t believe a word. It was as if he knew what had happened to Dylan, and how could he, unless… The possibilities that presented themselves didn’t bear thinking about, and she knew something was wrong. Nobody would say a thing like that by chance.
‘Come on Michael, say something to convince me you meant nothing sinister.’
‘I don’t know why I said that, Kate. The way you’re carrying on, something did happen to the cat. What was it?
The cheek of the man took her breath away, which was just as well for she had no intention of telling him anything.
‘It doesn’t matter, come and sit down and tell me the real reason you showed up here tonight.’
He followed her out of the kitchen and paused outside her studio. ‘Can I have a look?’
The door was open, so he already had a good look in her opinion. She leaned past him and closed the door. ‘I would rather you didn’t if you don’t mind,’ she said, not caring she came across as more than a little angry.
He looked surprised, but what did he expect? Had he forgotten how badly he had let her down, not to mention walking out on the child they had made together?
Her temper finally snapped and she turned on him angrily. ‘Don’t bother getting comfortable, Michael. I want you to leave, now.’
‘No buts, did you think I would fall into your arms again? You must be more stupid than I thought. Please, just go.’
For a moment, he managed to look sad, but if that was supposed to mean anything to her, he was badly mistaken. Although a small part of her still loved him, a bigger part resented him for turning up like this, assuming she would forgive and forget. She hadn’t been able to do it then and certainly wasn’t about to do it now.
Kate went to open the front door, desperate to get him out of her flat. Just as well I’m leaving, she thought, as knowing he knew where to find her was annoying her a lot more than she thought it would.
‘Can’t we just talk about this, Kate,’ he said, trying to look sheepish.
She came up to him and shoved him not too gently towards the door. ‘Go away Michael, I don’t want you here.’
As he walked away, she waited for him to turn around, to appeal to her one more time. He didn’t, he kept on walking and for a split second it was all so sad she felt like crying.
He didn’t appear to have come by car. If he had, it must be parked somewhere else. Why would he do that?
As Kate stood on the doorstep, she noticed there were no lights showing at Janet’s house. Did that mean she was still in the hospital? She would have to ring them in the morning and find out what was going on.
She didn’t feel in the least like painting, and went to the studio and stared at the canvas. She should work on it a bit more, after all, Sam was coming for lunch tomorrow and the more progress she could see, the better. It might help to get all thoughts of Michael out of her head, so she would have no trouble sleeping tonight.
She tried to empty her mind of him as she spent the next few hours pushing paint onto the canvas, and one question kept rattling around in her head. Why had he assumed something happened to her cat? It might have just been a coincidence; after all, there was a cat flap in the back door. It could have been for the previous tenant’s cat. It was almost as if he knew something bad had happened, but how could he have done?
She decided to call it a night when her arm was so stiff she could hardly hold the paintbrush. Canvas number three was almost finished and Kate liked the way this one was turning out. Probably because it was such a peaceful, serene scene, it had gone a long way to soothing the savage beast Michael had awakened with his impromptu visit…
What does Michael want?
Did he kill her cat?