by Paul Williams logo

It was one of those noises that wake you up, the kind you can’t be sure whether you heard or dreamt. Ada opened her eyes and lay still for a moment. Everything was dark and everything was quiet. Then her mind started to wonder. What if she had burglars?

Images of shadowy figures appeared in her head. They loomed over her and wielded flashing blades and blunt clubs.

Then she heard the noise again. It came from downstairs. Her heart skipped a beat and then suddenly she felt relief as she remembered Oved lived with her now. It must be him, she thought. Perhaps he can’t sleep; he might have got up to make a cup of tea; perhaps he can’t find a teaspoon; what if he’s having a heart attack?

Ada started to panic again. There was only one thing for it. She’d have to get up and make sure he was alright. It would be the only way she would be able to get back to sleep. She pulled back the bedclothes and tugged her dressing gown from the hook on the back of the bedroom door, plunging her arms into the sleeves and wrapping it round her. She switched on the bedroom light and shuffled on to the landing.

The light from her room was enough to see her safely to the bottom of the stairs where she turned and peered into the kitchen. Strange, thought Ada, the kitchen was in complete darkness – perhaps Oved was sipping his tea in the small back room and had turned the kitchen light off.

She pushed the living room door open and seeing it was dark put her hand out to switch on the light.

He was facing the mantelpiece and had his back to her but it wasn’t Oved’s face that greeted her as he turned his head, it was a pair of eyes and a hand-knitted balaclava in Santa red as opposed to the regulation sinister black expected of the archetypal burglar.

The two of them froze for an isolated moment. The burglar looked around the room; Ada was blocking his only means of escape. Ada stared at the burglar and then at the mantelpiece. The photograph of Brian was still there but the wedding ring he had given her was gone and even though Ada’s life had moved on, it was still her most treasured possession.

‘P…p…please,’ Ada stuttered in fear, ‘take anything, but p…please, not my wedding ring.

The burglar ran toward her and Ada screamed as events defied the laws of time and flew by in a split second of slow motion. The burglar shoved her hard and she fell backwards out of his way, clattering the back of her head on the doorframe as she crumpled to the floor. He stepped over her and then made his exit, fading back into the darkness that lay beyond the back door.

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The Smallest Happy Number
Metaxa and Coke
 
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