Lydia walked up the stairs with a weary tread, a sheaf of dark hair covering her face like a raven’s wing. She littered raindrops as she moved, her heels leaving dark prints on the carpeted steps. “Brian?” she called out as she reached the second landing. "Are you here?" Her voice echoed back in the cavernous silence, the sound of it mocking to her ears.
She stepped out of her shoes and left them by the stairs. This was uncharacteristic of her; she was usually the one to straighten frames, to pick up Brian’s dirty socks and make sure everything was in the right place. But lately Lydia had been feeling decidedly un-Lydia-like.
A bolt of lightning lit up the room before it plunged her back into the half-light. Lydia went flipping on lights methodically from room to room. She had the habit of turning on every light when she was home alone. She was aware that it gave her a false sense of comfort, but it was comfort all the same.
Lydia shrugged out of her raincoat as she walked into the kitchen, thinking some coffee would ease the cold ache in her bones, and then she noticed the answering machine was blinking. She rushed towards it, the coffee forgotten, leaving the raincoat draped over a chair and pooling water on its seat. She didn't notice, she only had eyes for the flashing red semaphore of her answering machine. She pressed play and stood breathless by the machine, her wide eyes unblinking.
First there was a crackle of static and then a voice. “Lydia? It’s your mother…”
Disappointment crashed over her like a wave. She sank into a chair. There was another brilliant blaze of lightning followed by the afterthought of thunder. And then the electricity went out.
Lydia sat there in the dark for maybe an hour, maybe more. Finally understanding for the first time, seeing what she’d been too blind to see before.