Elizabeth made a circle with her finger on a pane of freezing glass in a window that faced the back field of the manor house in which she was staying for the weekend, the weekend before Ginny, her friend since kinders, was going to be married.
Footprints in the snow led up to the house, almost. One pair of feet had made them and they stopped, perhaps five metres from the rear doors, down the middle of the vast lawn now covered in snow by the early spring blizzards that had assaulted this part of the country.
Had she walked, alone, back from the village pub? The footprints were not very recent. A light dusting of snow had covered though not obscured them. But they stopped before they reached the house and there were not another set going back.
Elizabeth pulled her dressing gown tighter around her and walked to the stairs. The house was quiet. It was early but not that early. Someone should have been awake. But there was not a sound, not the faintest sound. It was the quietest she had ever known the world to be. Nothing moved or scratched or squeaked or groaned as old houses always do.
She walked, one foot securely on a step before the next one came down. At each step she stopped and listened. Nothing.
Perhaps they were all still at the pub, maybe they’d stayed, being that they had had a lot to drink and it was late by the time she left. But how? How had she come home? Elizabeth walked, quickly now, to the garages, with their entrance by the kitchen door. Perhaps she’d driven. Why she would have after the amount of wine she’d put away, but the possibility was there.
Three cars, four spaces. Hers was empty. Ginny’s car stood nearest the door then Clive’s, Ginny’s fiance, then an empty space, then Robert and Eliza’s car.
If their cars are here, shouldn’t hers be? She could always have left the car at the pub and ridden back with Ginny. But where was Ginny? And where was Clive or Robert or Eliza for that matter?
She went through to the conservatory, nearest the footprints in the snow, and rubbed a circle in the misted glass to see outside. They were there, the footprints were there. They did stop where should thought they had, at least four or five metres from the house. The rest of the snow-covered expanse was pristine, not a blemish.
But what was that, beside the final footprint, a spot? No, several spots. Red.
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I have no idea where this might go next, if anywhere, but it intrigues me. The seed of the story came to me in the shower, no idea why, so I jotted it down.
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‘snowy footprints’ photo was used courtesy of Thomas Bush at http://www.sxc.hu/profile/wvubush. Thank you, Thomas.