Three [part one]

It’s not Mike or Owen that comes in, it’s a woman. Her clothes are slightly less unusual than theirs, although they’re still covered with the same strange patterns and they still look homemade and rustic. She’s wearing strange slippers, sewn without the help of machines like everything else, and she makes very little sound as she walks across to the bed. There’s a table that pulls out, on wheels; I hadn’t noticed it before. She places a tray down on it and seems to hesitate.

She doesn’t know I’m awake. “Hello?” I say, and she jumps a little.

“How long have you been awake?” she says. She’s Northern but not Scottish. I was right; I never thought they’d take me across the border. Then again, she might not be local.

“Just since you opened the door.”

“What’s your name?” she asks me.

“Georgia,” I reply readily. I can’t see any problem with them knowing that, if they don’t already. “Where am I?”

“I can’t tell you that, love.” She pushes the tray across the table a little, so that it’s closer to me. I sit up and shuffle forward on the bed, aware that my hair is all tangled and knotty and I must look a total state. The tray holds a large plate and a smaller one – a full English, and then some toast. There’s also a glass of orange juice and a small cup of tea. Though the eggs look like they’re going slightly rubbery and I would never normally eat something as fatty as this, I pick up the knife and fork and am about to dig in when I remember what I was going to ask her.

“Can I call my parents? So that they know I’m safe?”

I don’t mention Mum. If the paint on the van was really there and not a figment of my imagination, overactive after my kidnapping, then they already know about that.

“We don’t have a phone here. I’m sorry.”

I’m amazed. Everyone has a phone. There are lights and plug sockets here, so it’s not even as if they’re totally off the grid, but it’s true that even this luxurious room doesn’t have a TV, not even a small one. A computer, I can imagine, is out of the question. “They’ll be worrying,” I tell her, though I know Dad’s got other things on his mind.

“Don’t be anxious. We’re safe from prying eyes here.”

As if that would be a comfort to me. If those ‘prying eyes’ are the police, then I’d be happy to see them. I look away to hide my expression and turn my attention to the food, digging in at a speed that gives away how ravenous I am.

“You’ll want to get changed, when you’ve finished,” she says. I do. I feel horrible after sleeping in my clothes, though it’s not the first time, and I want the loo as well. “I’ll bring you some clothes.”

I’ve emptied the plate of everything I can bring myself to eat and have just started on the tea when she picks up the tray, leaving me with the mug, and heads towards the door. “What about this?” I say, gesturing with it, and then wrapping my hands more tightly around the warm china in case she tries to take it from me before I’ve finished.

“I’ll come back for it when I’ve got your clothes,” she says.

She’s reached the door. “That dress in the wardrobe,” I say, before she leaves. “What’s it for?”

For a minute she just stares at me. She seems sad, and I’m wondering if she’s going to answer my question at all, when she says, “Uncommonly long winter this year, isn’t it?”

Then she’s gone, and I’m alone in the room. I stare at the back of the door until she returns: I don’t know what else there is for me. The mug is empty too soon. She’s only gone a few minutes before she comes back, a small pile of clothes in her hands, which she exchanges for the empty mug and turns to go.

“Wait,” I say. I don’t want to be left on my own in this place. “What’s your name?”

“Teresa,” she says, and then she’s gone.

The End

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