She liked running in darkness.
Not skipping a day on Halloween,
the shadows didn’t bother her.
That day, the Moon floated in a pool of blue like a big orange.
Pilkington Avenue, always a movie set –
tiffany glass in every porch,
pictures hang neatly.
Men with books and beards sat by the fire, the kind she would fancy.
Not that there was anything wrong with her loving husband or their terraced house.
‘You’re leaving these runs too late’, he would say. But it was the way she liked it. Their two children tucked in bed. She was light. The wind carried her with ease. She loved drizzle.
It was in front of 52 where she slipped.
A thudding sound in her heart that no one else should hear but
the God himself. The head hit the pavement.
Tree branches wallpapering the sky is what she remembers. They were both still and dancing.
‘How unfortunate‘, the voice said.
A trench coat silhouette as if cut out from charcoal – a man stood behind her.
‘We are not meant to come this close’, she thought, yet her body leaned against the cold coat.
His face appeared from behind the fringe. Shyly, she wanted to draw it back in like a theatre curtain.
Her arms were heavy. She lost the fluorescent vest.
‘It’s all right, you can relax your foot‘. The man’s voice had no age, his skin was flawless.
‘We are not wearing face masks‘. She was now aware of her sweat, her matted hair and the pandemic.
‘We don’t need them Dasha‘.
She let out a cloud of breath that landed on his cheekbone. (‘How does he know my name?)
The sound of crunching stones underfoot behind the entrance made her realise she’s now inside.
It was a house too grand, even for this expensive neighbourhood.
Two pillars and a lion sculpted into each of its head, smell of woodworm in the distance.
There was a tree on the horizon she could vaguely recognise, only it grew bigger.
His brows. She thought hard about those brows being carried. ‘Where are we going?‘
‘You should know by now Dasha. You’ve been here many times before’.
‘You mean running?’
‘Yes, that as well’.
The sound of ambulance woke up the neighbourhood of Pilkington Avenue at approximately 10.30pm.
No one has ever seen the road so still on All Hallows Night.
A woman lay on the cold slabs in front of 52. A pile of building works materials for the renovation of the ‘duke’s mansion,’ as they all know it, must have got in the way.
The mobile phone that fell out of her pocket rang a few times before the ambulance crew accidentally run over it.
Paramedics rushed out. One, two, three. A giant bag. Leaning over, performing CPR.
The clouds covered the Moon and mist has fallen on Pilkington Avenue. Even the neighbours stopped talking.
A flick of wispy light has appeared in the far end of the mansion.
The stained glass window revealed two faces, one with the fringe and the other that of Dasha, her hair short and matted as runner’s. One could mistake them for two male lovers if the mist hadn’t been so thick.
Soaking up the smell of burnt city fireworks, the grand mansion stood as it always did. Chimneys cold and crumbling in the distance. Only this time, the Duke has brought home his most precious possession yet.