A few days passed quickly, until the evening of Halloween. For some reason unknown to her, Lucy’s street had always been popular with the children making their rounds to get as many sweets and chocolate as possible. Her neighbours obliged, and normally so would she. This year was different. She turned off all lights in her house, and sat in the back room of her upstairs- which also happened to be her bedroom- with a candle on her bedside table, and a book on her lap, open roughly half- way. The dull orange glow lit the room very little, only enough to bath her bed in its warm light. The rest of her room was enveloped in deep, long shadows which swallowed up her furniture. It did little to illuminate the empty void of her open doorway, and the banister glittered eerily in the complete darkness that surrounded it. She had left her bedroom door open, as she found it more pleasant when her room was cooler.
Her curtains were drawn, so no moonlight could flow in and give its silvery light. Lucy sat in near-darkness, happy and warm with her covers pulled over her legs. She had folded her broken one beneath her healthy one, and sat stiffly, her back flat against the pillow, which was propped up against the wall. Turning a page, she reached down with her free hand, picking up a warm mug of tea, pausing for a second to embrace the sudden warmth that spread into the palm of her hand. The warmth wriggled its way through her fingers, and started the long trek up her arm. She put it to her lips, and took a long sip. Replacing the cup on its coaster, she found her place again and continued reading.
She did little else that evening, and the time passed quietly and calmly. Once or twice there would be a hurried knock on her door, and some muffled chatter from outside. The knocking would subside after a few seconds, and she would hear dulled footsteps walking down her steps, before they faded out of her hearing range and back into the night.
A couple of weeks passed without any hassle- she had developed a routine that required little of her, and she only had to make the occasional excursion out of her house and into the outside world. She enjoyed this arrangement, as it kept her away from people and allowed her to focus on healing. On this particular morning, she had been up and about, using one crutch as she limped around her house. She was preparing for her latest trip to the shops, and was slowly but surely gathering her things.
She had finished the very last of her bread, and made toast for breakfast, spreading a thin layer of butter on top. A moment had been stolen from her schedule as she had watched the butter melting, in a childish moment of nostalgia. She quickly ate her two slices, before hurrying off to get dressed. It was at this point that she became aware of a dull pain that stood out from the ache she had become accustomed to over the past month or so. She pulled a face as she hobbled upstairs, and lifted up her shirt to examine the long, dark scabbed wounds on her chest. The bandages had been removed only a week ago, and they still stung a little when she applied any pressure, or brushed against them with her clothes. She pressed down on them now, wincing as she concluded that the new ache wasn’t the same.
As she got dressed, she continued to ponder this new mystery.
Over the course of the month, she had realised that getting dressed was a challenge. Putting on trousers, especially so. She cursed often as she tried to pull them on, finally succeeding after what seemed like an age. In a fraction of the time it had taken her to put on trousers, she slipped on a shirt. With a scowl on her face, she sat on her bed and put socks on her feet. She paused for a moment, tapping the cast on her leg experimentally. There was no current itch, she noticed. “Not for long…” She muttered to herself, pushing herself up from bed and almost falling over the other way. She caught herself with one hand on her dresser, and hopped a few steps until she stood up straight. Cursing again, she picked up her crutch and started her limp back down toward the front door.
As she came to the bottom of the stairs, she picked up her second crutch and made down the last few steps in a second. She stopped, sitting back down on the second step heavily. She picked up a pair of loose trainers, pulling them on her feet and hastily doing up the laces. Standing up, she stumbled again, catching the end of the banister and steadying herself. She picked up her rucksack, swinging it over her shoulders before she retrieved her crutches. She took a deep breath, facing the door like an old enemy.
It took her a few minutes to get out the door. She struggled to find the right key on her key ring, and then couldn’t quite get fully out onto her top step. She was relieved when she was finally out, and turned around to face the day. It was foggy, she noticed. A thick cloud of white obscured the cars at the furthest ends of her home street. She leaned forward, peering down in the direction she intended to go. Her next door neighbour had the annoying habit of letting their hedge grow just enough to obscure her immediate view from her top step. She scowled at the thought, before descending. A shiver ran down her spine, and she winced as the dull pain increased in intensity. It hadn’t been by much, but the smallest difference set her in a new area of discomfort.
She took her time walking down the street. She saw little point in rushing the job- she would only end up sitting back at home reading sooner. As much as she liked reading, she needed to start doing something different, something new. She needed, she thought to herself, to get out more. She glared at the oncoming cars, taking out her annoyance on the unaware drivers. Tightening her grip on her crutches, she looked from left to right. Traffic in both directions had died down, so she crossed.