The next occasion on which I caught sight of Deanna Macpherson was the following weekend. It was Sunday morning. Our village, I might say, is called Douitchurch, although there is no douit, and not many attend the church. Of course, my family don't go to church. We used to go. But we haven't been in over five years now. We have no reason to worship the God who allowed the murder of my sister.

I was standing at the window of the sitting room, now cold and leaky, as it hadn't been attended to in a long time.

Roof tiles ripped off the roof lie in smashed heaps around our house. The flowers in our windowboxes, tended so carefully by my mother and sister times ago, are long dead, and the boxes themselves have been blown away in the gales that rip and tear around the village in the winter months. The walls are lined and streaked, because the shower leaks badly and has never been mended. The rugs and curtains are worn and moth-eaten. Few of the light bulbs work, and the lamp shades have since fallen off, then discarded in the street to await the rumble of the bin lorry early on Thursday mornings. The sofa is lumpy and sagging. A creeper climbs our brown-ish coloured house, thick knots blocking all the windows but one in the living room, which my mother cuts back every morning by force of mad habit. This is the window I look out of, glaring down the murky grey street in our murky grey town. Summer seems like a long time ago, and an even longer way off.

I watch the people badgering about in their thick dull clothes carrying black umbrellas. Our village is like a funeral. The houses, the people, the weather and the general mood is of the atmosphere of a funeral. So why is a murder mystery such a back-out-of enigma to the people living round, their lives like a gloomy never-ending death without the mystery of a murder?

One such person badgering about was Deanna Macpherson. She was walking down the road along the cobbles, those same cobbles as I had got to know so well five years ago, I thought, wearing a black coat and black boots, her dark hair spilling out from under a black hat. She, too, looked like a funeral-goer, and I wondered why someone couldn't wear a bright red coat or something, just to bring a bit of colour and cheer into our murky grey street. I would've thought her to be wearing something bright. Vere had never worn black. She always wore brown leather and blue denim.

Deanna Macpherson came past my house, and as she saw me standing aimlessly at the window she gave a quick wave and an anxious smile, oblivious to the other passers-by who openly discouraged this gesture with frowns and snide comments to their neighbours.

Yet this tiny gesture was enough for me. It was enough, as the non-existence of a snub had been enough in the art lesson. Any other of my classmates would have hurried straight past the window without a glance at the gaunt ugly figure looming behind the thick glass. Maybe Deanna Macpherson felt sorry for me. But she couldn't reach me behind the glass, and I was sure of it.

But some change came over me as I saw her walking back half an hour later, carrying a small shopping bag fresh from the village chemist. Something clicked in my mind. Just the sight of someone doing something useful spurred me into wondering why I was not doing anything productive, and why I had never in five years done anything in the least bit constructive. At once I wondered what I could do to make a difference. Make a difference - how inviting it sounded.

Over the rest of the day I changed every light bulb in the house, and threw the nasty rugs and curtains in the rubbish bin along with every shard of roof tile and windowbox that had shattered over the past five years. I took a pair of shears and cut back the thick growth veiling the windows, cleaning them thoroughly later in the day. I got some funny looks from the villagers and townspeople, but I had learnt not to care what they thought, and I was more than proud of my work when I was done. I resolved to buy some new curtains and wall paint next weekend and make a job of painting the whole house. There was no reason why it shouldn't be brightened.

Then I paused. I remembered why our house should not be brightened. The fatal incident with an unknown blue-cloaked culprit had taken place in this house, this very sitting room, five years ago. The house could never be normal. And I could never have any feeling for it beyond that damp dull nightmare still vivid in my mind. It was better to keep it as it was.

I relapsed into my previous state of gloom and depression. I felt wretched. I didn't know whether I wanted to cheer myself or not. I knew I'd regret any decision I came to, so decided that it was better to be miserable and selfish. So I left it, and so my fit of being useful and performing necessary DIY operations on that house lasted a bare day, and never returned to me while I lived in that grey dead house.

The End

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