the night visit
There were two torches coming down the drive, both held by firm hands and they were coming for me.
Night comes quickly in these hills, as does the winter cold and together they chill the empty house and all its rooms, including the one where I sit reading by candlelight. Alone, listening for a quiet step on the verandah or a twig snapped underfoot, a disturbance in the arctic air outside. This expectant fear that grows anew every night.
What if they found me?
Then the phone rang.
‘They’re coming,’ she said.
I rummaged through the desk drawer and withdrew a pack of four, the last, found a jacket and torch and walked outside, towards the approaching lights. They were laughing.
When we were six feet apart we stopped, lights in each other’s faces.
‘Who do you want?’ I asked.
‘Because you have what we want.’
‘What are your names?’
The smaller one answered first.
Then the second.
A sudden rush in the air above us, a flight of wood doves, gone in an instant.
‘What do you want from me?’
A low chuckle from the larger one.
‘What’s in your pocket.’
Our lights held on each other, they were so young.
‘Who am I?’
The little one responded.
‘And what’s the magic word?’
They took the four-pack and bolted back home. My game was over, theirs interrupted for a change of batteries.