better soundproofed than the B&B had been. Millie could cry very loudly.
She’d not seen anyone around yet and if it hadn’t been for that washing on the lines at the back, she’d have thought she was the only one here. The car park had remained empty, though that was nothing to go by because she had a parking bay too, only she didn’t have a vehicle to put in it.
, she prayed as she put her daughter down in the cot,
don’t wake the man below tonight or he’ll think we’re the neighbours from hell
When her daughter fell asleep, Janey lay down on the bed nearby. She was so worn out she could feel herself falling asleep and didn’t fight it.
During her lunch hour, Nicole went for a walk along High Street. She hadn’t intended to succumb to temptation, but found herself stopping outside the estate agent’s to read the
notices again. The flat was still being advertised. No, what was she thinking of? She already had a home. You couldn’t just walk out on your family, however tempted you were.
She glanced at her watch and took a sudden decision to go and see whether the mess in the kitchen had been touched at all, because she’d been worrying about it all morning. If they’d just left it, she’d ask to see the flat. Just to have a look at it, see what you could get for your money. She kept dreaming of peace and it’d give her a threat to hold over their heads.
Surely Sam would have done something, at least? He couldn’t just have gone to work and left the kitchen like that, with rubbish overflowing from the bin. And surely he’d said something to the boys about pulling their weight in future, as she’d asked him to do?
The house was empty and the dirty dishes in the kitchen had been shuffled around a bit, but nothing had been washed. The rubbish bin was still overflowing and the dishwasher hadn’t been emptied, though there were a few gaps inside it where clean items had been taken out.
She walked round the ground floor, fighting tears, then stopped in shock in the living room. Her favourite ornament, which normally graced the window sill, lay in shards on the hearth. The little figurine had been all right when she left for work. It could only have got broken so badly by being hurled across the room.
She went across to look more closely. It had belonged to her grandmother and she’d counted it as one of her treasures. There were too many small pieces for it to be mended. It looked – as if someone had ground it under foot.
She backed away, not touching it.
William or Sam?
Without remembering leaving the house or walking back along High Street, she found herself going into the estate agent’s.
‘You’re advertising a flat to rent in Peppercorn Street.’ She was pleased at how steady her voice was. ‘I’d like to see it. Straight away, if possible.’
Winifred was glad it wasn’t raining on Friday morning because she enjoyed her stroll down to the shops in fine weather. Today she needed her wheelie shopping bag, which she didn’t really like using. It seemed to shout ‘old age, infirmity’. But it was necessary for hauling back her heavier shopping. She also took her library books to change.
After she’d bought some food, she went to the library, looking forward to a chat with Nicole, who was such a nice young woman and was very good at finding new authors for her.
But today Nicole was looking wan and unhappy, clearly not in the mood to chat, so Winifred had to do the best she could to find some new authors herself. She saw a big sign on the noticeboard for the Golden Oldies Club, which Nicole kept asking her to join, but she wasn’t the joining sort, never had been. She never knew what to say to strangers. The fairies who’d presided over her birth hadn’t included the gift of small talk.
On the way back she saw a notice in the window of a charity shop that there was a book sale on, hesitated and went in. She didn’t like using these