I didn't ask any questions the next morning as I sat down to burnt toast made by Dad, who was milling around the kitchen trying to remember how to knot a tie. I wondered what he was up to. Probably something to do with that solicitor guy; not that I felt the inclination to waste my energy in asking questions.

Crunching on the scorched toast and feeling the hard grains lodge themselves between my teeth, I thought about Deanna. What had become of her after she had left the house? Had her parents been worried? Of course they had. Their younger daughter had been killed. What was stopping them thinking of their elder daughter's death as a subsequent occurence. Not that the two events were related. The blue-cloaked murderer had nothing to do with a cliff accident. Or did he?

I groaned loudly, and scratched the crust of a scab off my nose. I didn't remember that scab. Had I been drawing my own blood at night again?

A while later I was aware of the front door crashing closed, and the house as quiet and dismal as usual. But now it was different. I felt lonely. For perhaps the first time in years, I felt truly lonely.

Having spent the majority of my past couple of days with other people - well, more time than is normal, for me, at any rate - it felt oddly out of context as the front door slammed behind Dad. I hadn't even registered his leaving the room.

I had had no need for the skill of observancy over the past few years, and had not attempted to train it. I had sunk lower and lower into my own head and my own thoughts, like a deep round pit, where every echo bounces back to its original source. Like when you have catarrh, and every noise sounds like it's trapped inside your head, and it's so claustrophobic, and there's that perpetual beeping sound that just will not go away.

Everything freezes when you are alone. It goes cold and hard and empty, and time glares at you with steely hostile eyes as you saunter past in your self-absorbed world, untouched by the ticking of time.

That was how it was the morning after Deanna Macpherson left with a bandaged thigh, the curious-eyed man left with a head bursting with knowledge of our private family affairs, and Mum left...supposedly. The morning Dad left with a door slam, leaving me at the kitchen table behind charred crusts, my lips still stinging from yesterday's unexpected kiss.

And then I pushed back my chair with an ear-rending scrape, exited the kitchen, blackened toast remains steaming cold on their chipped plate, leaned upstairs, thumped open the attic trapdoor, and pushed open the skylight.

I spent my day on the rooftiles, my buttocks in the grungy iron gutter, my feet hanging over the edge, my eyes following the bustle of the rain-infested high street of Douitchurch Village, and out over the hills, to where a dying man hung nailed to a wooden cross on the crest of a green mound. He would forgive all of my sins, all of my thoughts, all of my vengeful longings. He would forgive everything.

I spent my day straddled on the roof, inches away from a suicidal end on the shining cobbles waiting for me below.

The End

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