she hated to think back to that night. the night her husband died. the night he was killed.
it caused her physical pain to recall those events. doctors told her it was shock. it was normal.
as if there was anything normal about it.
she had to accept that this was her life now.
she was on her own.
grandma and grandpa’s summer place was just what she needed.
a chance to get away from it all. a vacation from yourself, they said.
they were joining her tomorrow. Jane and Vicky and Erica.
she had gotten here first on Friday morning.
the air smelled cleaner. purer. like she could inhale it more deeply than the air she was used to breathing.
she felt a thrill when she turned the key in the lock and pushed the door open.
lighting the electric fireplace she noticed she wasn’t frowning.
more than that, she was smiling.
once the flame appeared and she began to feel the chill vanish from the room a reflection in the flat screen tv on the wall in front of her made her whirl towards the kitchen windows.
she thought she had seen movement out there.
maybe a deer.
there had been deer in the yard in the old days.
today the backyard was overgrown; a dying pale brown in the early snow. the air held a fine mist as flakes fell with the rain drops.
warm now, she went back to her cocoa and picked out a book from the wall of shelves.
she put her feet up on the coffee table and sipped her drink.
the wind began howling as the windows were suddenly pelted with tiny ice pellets.
chilled by the crystalline clatter, she reached for the blanket at her side.
then the power cut and she heard the flame snuff out.
as the house shook in the increasing winds she shuddered, quickly turning cold.
there was a fireplace but only matches and newspaper and a few twigs.
looking outside again she decided to put on her coat and boots and get some firewood.
grandpa used to have a spot on the side of the garage where he chopped wood.
the freezing rain pelted her as she gathered an armfull.
determined not to drop any, the load was balanced awkwardly as she navigated the icy ground.
then she heard a snort, an animal sound from behind.
she was afraid but just quickened her pace, dropping wood as she ran.
the door was closing in the wind.
it slammed shut just before she could lunge for it.
she was locked out.
the house was still closed, the windows boarded up.
even the kitchen windows.
the ones she had just stood and looked through earlier.
the wood faded like the rest of them; all covered in vines.
a low growl made her turn and hold the last piece of firewood like a club.
it wasn’t a deer.
it was a man.
it was her husband.
and she raised her club ready to bash his brains in again if she had to.