I worked in the garden. I created wonders with my lawn, my beds were a riot of colorful summer flowers while red geraniums in clay pots thrived in my veranda. Such work kept me very fit. I was stronger and healthier than I had been since my mid-twenties. I lost flab from around my middle, gaining sturdy muscle in my arms and legs. I worked to exhaust myself, never downing tools till the sun was setting, but even so sleep deserted me.
I would lie in bed and listen to the silence, the slow rhythms of the night. It would fall into a pattern, a slow and percussive song in the distant tidal rush of cars on the highway, the barking of dogs, the call of an owl. And through it, under it and over it my thoughts, gathered tangles of threads to unpick, wove themselves into new and brighter patterns.
Mavis mavis mavis...
Her name repeated and repeated until it made no sense at all, lost all it's meaning and connection, became noise. She, the watching troll, twitching sniffing at her window, scrabbling nails grubbing in the dirt to unearth...what?
There, in my bed, I made my plan. A long plan, a good plan. My mind was clear and sharp, excelling, striving to perfect. Was I growing younger? Rejuvenated, becoming more than I had been, blooming, like a rose, from the death and decay of other life? My roots in rich compost, spreading.
No, that was nonsense. I told myself to be practical, to perfect my plan
But it turned out I had no need for plans, because she came to me. Walked up to my front door the very next morning and knocked.
"Oh Louise, " she said, a bit breathlessly. "I've a favor to ask I'm afraid. Would you mind ever so much coming across to my house for a minute. It shouldn't take long." She was a small, spare woman, and looked worried that morning.
"Mavis," I said. "Are you alright? Of course I shall, but what is it?"
"My boiler has gone out! And it's such a job, and no one else in or I'd ask Peter Gerrard like I did the last time. It's an old thing and I need someone to hold down the gas while I click the flame. I can't do it on my own," she added sadly and glanced at her hands which she half-raised as an explanation, swollen with arthritis, beginning to curve inward at the knuckles. I made sympathetic noises.
"Of course I'll come over Mavis. Just let me fetch my keys."
"Thank you," she breathed. "I could wait for Peter I know, he's so good. Do you know the Gerrards? Such a nice family. Well I could wait, but I have these silly notions about the house getting filled up with gas!" She laughed at herself. "So silly, yet I can't get the idea out of my head."
"I know," I said. "I'd feel the same I'm sure. Those old systems are hard work, but so expensive to replace!"
Well, we got the boiler fixed in no time at all, and it was comical how grateful she was. She liked to sew, Mavis did. Even with her crippled hands she persevered. She picked it up again as she lead me into her sitting room. There were scissors on her chair. Large and silver, gleaming and sharp, the kind that come together with a satisfying snap.
I picked up the scissors and plunged them into her chest. I arranged her neatly on her front on the rug, the fabric pulled a little as if she'd tripped. Then I left. No one saw me. I was only surprised at how little blood there was.