Last night, after the photograph incident, Angelica forced herself into unconsciousness with music; it was difficult to get off with the 1812 Overture banging through the house but it worked and she woke up late, feeling quite refreshed. The house seemed to whisper behind her back but she ignored it and went about her day; she’d decided that the place needed spring-cleaning and spent the whole morning hard at it. At eleven, she lay down on the sofa with slices of cucumber on her eyes - it scared her to be so blind while that woman roamed the rooms. Drumming rain had lulled her into a kind of peace, and when the doorbell rang she leapt to her feet. Something made her stop and ask who was there before opening the door, as normal – she could never have been described as a mouse before, but things were different now that she was under attack.
‘Who did you say?’
‘I’m from the Social-work department…’
‘Are you sure? How do I know that? Do you know that woman in my house?’
‘If you open the door perhaps I can help.’ Fingers appeared through the letterbox, holding an ID card.
‘I don’t know you, and that stuff can be forged. I’ve seen it on the television; we’re supposed to be very careful these days…and I’ve already got a strange woman in my house – I don’t need two!’ Angelica paced the hallway, back and forward between the spy-hole and the phone. ‘No, I don’t think I want to let you in. Maybe you should call me on the phone.’ She bent down to the level of the letterbox.
‘If you’ll just open the door we could talk here.’ The letterbox flapped and Angelica jumped back. She picked up a pad and pen from the phone table.
‘Look, I’ve written my number down for you. Have you got a car and a mobile phone?’
‘Then go back and sit in your car and call me. I’ll talk to you then. All right?’ she folded the piece of paper and slipped it through the letterbox then waved at the blurred figure on the other side of the frosted glass. ‘Bye now,’ she turned into the living room, closing the door behind her and sat in the armchair – she was expecting a phone call.
The phone rang. Angelica stood up, smoothed her skirt and walked into the hall.
‘Hello? Hello, who’s there? Is that you? I can’t hear a thing – Oh it’s one of those robots.’ She slammed the phone down and glared at it until it rang again. ‘Hello! Yes. You want to what? No! I don’t want the government in my house. Just tell me straight, can you make this woman go away? No? So what use are you? I’m afraid you’ll have to go. I’m hanging up now.’ She shook the phone. ‘Cheek!’
When she went back into the living room the woman was at the window, peering out of the white net curtains.