so cold

  She heard a faint voice.

  "Ma'am. Ma'am. Ma'am?"

  The plea gathered in strength.

   "Are you all right? Are you here?"

   Angelica's eyes fluttered open. The policeman was looking down at her.

   "Ahh, quite right. You're well, Ma'am?" he asked kindly.

   "Yes. Quite," she said.

    He helped her to the chair and tut-tutted kindly. He brought her a glass of water and gently told her he couldn't stay. After all, he explained, there wasn't anybody here. She was probably, he suggested, having a waking dream.

   "It happens, Ma'am," he murmurred. "I was once absolutely sure that my socks were wet. I  went to my locker to change them. But they weren't. They were absolutely dry. It happens."

    Angelica heard the door close behind him. She sighed.

    "Silly old girl," she told herself.

    She rose from the chair and headed back towards the kitchen.  When she turned to look at the photo of herself and the lady with the beige sweater, she wasn't at all surprised that it was no longer there.

     "Waking dreams," she repeated to herself as she fixed a light dinner. "Wet socks."

     She talked to the empty biscuit bag.

     "Waking dreams," she scolded. "Wet socks."

     Angelica watched the evening news, only slightly distracted by the missing photograph.

    "Waking dreams," she told the empty space.

    She fussed with her night-time preparations; shutting off the telly and dousing the lights.

    She trod on the first step of the staircase.

    Her ankles froze. A gripping, slicing, gnawing cold seized her feet.

     An icy breeze swept her hair.

     "Cold socks," she said firmly.

     Routinely, she went to the bathroom and her bedroom, fidgeting into a restless sleep nestled under mountains of extra blankets.

     

       The cold awoke her.

       Her teeth were chilled. Her spine was snow. Her blood was pulsing ice.

       "The flu," she thought angrily. "I'm ill."

        She looked at her bedside clock. Three, it read in pulsing red numbers.

        Then Angelica's freeze went deeper.

        Deepest.

        Beside the clock was the photograph. The lady.

        The same photo.

         But now, In a pulsating crimson light, she was holding a knife.

         

The End

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