No. 31

Part One

YOU CAN’T FAIL TO NOTICE WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TERRACE HOUSE, number 31, not many walk down that street. There must be some who do, or do they? Common sense would indicate souls offering that time honoured tradition and extending a token of remembrance. Although many forced to give it a wide berth. There’s nothing like gossip fuelling the many with tales taking on their own life, certainly when passed from one person to another.


“I wonder who leaves the flowers? Never any card. They must spend a fortune.”
No reply other than a grunt. Mr Garnett lost in thought staring at the burnt out hearth.

Mrs Garnett sat on a dining chair, trying to make conversation to fill the uncomfortable silence. Not that there’s any domestic going on between them, more like they are both waiting or perhaps thinking on that lucky escape from a fatality that’s left them stunned and lingering in this limbo for weeks.

Mr Garnett sometimes turns his head to look at his wife, as if he’s ready to say something, might be the shock.
“You know, I’m sure I hear lots of different voices coming from next door. I listen at the wall I know I shouldn’t. I never see anybody go in and out… Aren’t the flowers nice, they don’t last though. Turn as quick as the moon changes its face.”

They sit at different ends of the room. You could say the place worst for wear due to fire damage and everything dripping wet damp from the hosing.

Mrs Garnett seeks to fill the void, she might as well be talking to herself, but bless, Mr Garnett, in shock. I mean they’ve lived in this house all through their marriage, till death does us part and all that…

Mrs Garnett heard a familiar noise.

She’d taken in the bunch of flowers quicker than normal and for once retrieved the card. Didn’t have her glasses, they’d melted in the fire.

“Haven’t seen the stranger, next but one. Must be renting it, eh. I wonder if they hear those different voices through the wall.” She was trying to read the card, holding it a distance before making out the words. She read it aloud and Mr Garnett looked worryingly at her.

‘To Mr and Mrs Garnett – forever in our hearts – Rest in Peace – All at No. 66’

You could say they found out then, after all this time wondering what happens next, got to a point when they didn’t know beyond the moment… They never did go upstairs.

It was the first thing to block out when it had happened. They carried on living in the one room.

A knock on the front door had them both realise they’d better go and answer and Mrs Garnett thought the shadow beyond the glass pane was the stranger from the house next but one. The first thing they saw, two carpetbags, and they both thought the same thought, he’d come to collect…

story by John Riley

next part two

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