I awake damp and shivering to a cold stone world at dusk. Heavy clouds loom miserably over the sky, which has ceased to cry, and a bright yellow full moon foretells of coming evil. But I know that the evil has already been and gone: Blue-Cloak, my sister's murderer.

The remembrance unwinds itself inside my mind, and I know I can never forget: my sister; but only can I recall her as that still figure with long flowing dark hair, lying face-down on the boards in a pool of scarlet paint.

I realise with a shock that she is still there in the house behind me, in the sitting room through the window above me, on the boards in the room there.

I shudder to think of her. I never want to see her again, somehow, for I am haunted by the last image I know of her. Yet I must see her - my sister.

I struggle to my feet, but they collapse underneath me. My whole body is numb with cold, and stiff from a rough sleep in the gutter. I try to rise again; thrice, and I succeed.

Hobbling over curled cramped toes, cowering with fear, head down in sorrow, I creep back into my house, through the tiny hallway. I push open the sitting room door; my hand shakes with dread, half-afraid that the dreadful apparition is gone, half-relieved that it should be so; but I see it again.

My sister is laid on the boards exactly as I left her. Her beautiful dark hair is crusted with a brownness I figure is dried blood. Her arm is doubled under her, painfully; but she feels no pain. I feel it for her. Before she was warm. Now she is icy, and my house no longer feels like home. It feels like the plain, bare place it always was, but without its sunshine, its rainbow and hope: my sister; it is damp with the tears of misery and dull with the anguished grieving deep in my emotions.

A wave of panic erupts around me like smoke, and I can scarcely breathe. My eyes are for a brief moment misted over around a perfect circle in which lies the lifeless body.

Then I am calm and still and taking deep breaths. My parents trusted Vere to care for the house and for myself over the duartion of just five days, while they took advantage of an invitation to one of their fruitless art exhibitions. But it is I whom they will blame for not caring sufficiently for my sister. It is I who will bear the guilt, if i happens that there is sufficient space in their little minds to blame anyone, once they have returned and seen: her; this.

I know I should tell them now, and the police, too; but I can't. And then another forceful emotion overcomes me, and I must lie down. It goes by the name of fatigue. I feel strongly drawn to the body, and though I do not touch it and allow it a wide berth as I cross the room to the sofa, I keep it strictly in my direct line of vision until I am sitting there.

My eyes close. I force them open. I must keep my eyes on the body. No; not the body. Vere. My sister. My sister is not just a body, not an 'it'. It is a 'she'. I drive that notion into my mind, but my thoughts will not focus. My last conscious thought: "look at it, keep it in mind, the body, not any little flash of colour that catches my eye, whatever it may be, that blue, I know that blue, no, the body, look at it, keep it in mind...; the body, the body's memory, what the body once was, how the body once lived, that is what I shall live for..."

The End

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