Every day Christina thought about the job, the interview, the evening that followed. Life seemed like a big jumble of emotions at the moment and she longed to hear about the job one way or another so she could shake this feeling that something big was hanging over her and get on with living. Right now she felt stagnant. Sep hadn’t been seen for a few days since her fight with Sandy
She flitted from one task to another at work, hardly able to concentrate on anything for long. She was having regular hot flushes but she just put it down to getting flustered when she lost track of what she was doing. It wasn’t one of Sandy’s days to be in and Christina felt lonely in her unrest. Though she didn’t want to admit it to herself, her frequent trips to the filing room were all motivated by a desire to bump into someone, someone in particular.
Christina huffed as she dropped herself into the swivel chair back at her desk, and in doing so her mobile caught the corner of her eye. One missed call. Checking out the number, she recognised the area code from the job advert. Now the moment was here, she wasn’t so sure she wanted to know. She needed this new start, she felt like her sanity hinged on it. This had been home for a few years sure, but now she felt like the whole town was falling into an abyss and if she stayed she would fall in too.
With a massive intake of breath she called the number. At the other end of four rings was the voice she recognised from the portly man who had interviewed her. She felt shame spread over her cheeks and fought hard to remain calm. She hoped he wouldn’t hint at her previous provocativeness with him.
What was this? Even though she had hoped for it so hard it was still a shock when he said the words. They would like to offer her the position. Starting in four weeks, just enough to cover her notice. She thanked him in a shaky voice and hung up, suspended in that moment while she tried to comprehend her fortune. Then the overwhelming amount of work it would require to be installed in the little town in the countryside in time to start the new job.
There was a rap at the door. It swung open a little and Sep casually popped his head through. Why did he always appear when her mind was in chaos?
‘Who’s a bad girl and not reading her e-mails then?’ he chirped.
‘Huh?’ She looked over at him blinking.
‘When was the last time you looked outside?’ he continued to tease ‘We’re virtually snowed in.’
‘Seriously?’ Christina didn’t quite know how to react.
‘Yeah I was already about four hundred yards away when I saw your light was still on so I thought I’d come back to check if you were stuck.’
‘Are the buses still running?’ She enquired gathering her things about her on the desk.
‘No chance, it’s like a blizzard.’ He broke the news to her ‘I’ve got my car though, I can try and get you home.’
Usually Christina would refuse the offer flat, but she mused that if it really was like a blizzard out there her external reality would resemble her internal reality and she was in danger of getting lost somewhere between the two. She just nodded at Sep.
They were bumper to bumper in a storm of white, the traffic barely moving. They sat in silence for a while Sep concentrated, in forty minutes they had only cleared two streets. Christina had had another flush and the sweat that had formed on the surface of her skin chilled to ice in the bitter air.
Sep looked over at her, concerned.
‘Look Christina, you seem unwell’ he frowned, she couldn’t deny it she was shivering ‘my place is just around the corner, it would make me feel a whole lot better if we could stop there and get a warm drink inside you.’
As he finished his request the tires lost their grip on the road and the car slowly slipped, stopping just an inch from the bumper of a parked car. For a second it felt as if they were riding a Curling rock before Sep regained control of the car.
‘Whoa… and maybe we could wait and see if the snow eases up a bit.’ He added.
Well she was stuck, he wasn’t going to let her head home alone it seemed, and he was keen to stop. It only seemed fair, and she would be glad of the heat too.
They crawled on with the other fretting drivers before taking the junction very slowly and pulling up outside a snow dusted bungalow in a typical street in the town. The white snow peppered the grass and with a single illuminated window the bungalow seemed to hark back to an earlier time.
She hovered behind him as they entered, clinging to the most familiar thing in this bizarre situation. The telltale muggy heat of house with an elderly resident greeted them. Peering over Sep’s shoulder she was surprised to see a round but small old woman, wrapped in a tatty woollen shawl propped against the banister.
Why would she be waiting there? She must have been on her way upstairs.
‘Oooh the snow has brought me company?’ She cooed eyeing Christina up. ‘Septimus will you not introduce us?’
‘Nona, this is Christina, Christina this is my grandmother Alyona’
‘You can call me Nona too! I hardly hear my name anymore’
This curious old woman had a strange power radiating from her that Christina couldn’t fathom. The way she held herself and smiled, like she knew something you didn’t, like the joke was on you. Sep’s whole personality seemed to take a darker shade in her company too. His eyes more serious, his body poised for action.
‘I will go make us some tea.’ Nona said playfully and shuffled out to the kitchen mumbling and smiling.
Christina turned to Sep ‘You didn’t say you lived with your grandmother?’
‘You didn’t ask’ he grinned ‘besides I forget that some people find it strange, I always have lived with her, since my father died..’ He looked wistful for a moment before continuing ‘..and I couldn’t leave her alone now.’
He just kept on surprising her. Just when she thought she had him figured out he would reveal some hidden depth and she would be forced to look at him with fresh eyes. Who was he really?
Nona returned with a tray loaded with three steaming cups of tea, the smell was not just tea though there was the aroma of exotic herbs that made Christina think of witches. Alyona and Septimus exchanged a knowing look while Christina inspected the tea.
‘Shall we go to the sitting room?’ Nona suggested and they all fell in line behind her entering the room adjacent to her magic room.
Settling in to the old but plush sofa and sipping her tea Christina could feel every drop trickling down her throat, through her chest and into her stomach.
‘This is very unusual’ she enquired ‘What is it.’
‘It’s an old gypsy brew’ Nona nodded in encouragement as she spoke. ‘It will help stoke the fire in your soul. Heat you back up a little child.’
That is the last thing Christina remembered. That and the warm, fabric folds of the sofa closing around her thawing body.