“So, what is it that brings yourself round to this forest?” Danish Pastry Woman finally sat herself back down. Suddenly, she frowned at me.
“Is it that I have seen you before, or do I know you from another place?” He tone became especially accentuated when she was asking questions.
“I…um… My husband has been on the news lately…” I mumbled, blushing slightly as I looked to the plasma.
“Oh…?” The woman ran her eyes over me, taking in every image of my person.
“So, why did you travel (and then lose yourself) in these woods today?”
I could hear the suspicion in her voice that she was trying to conceal. It was time for me to question her.
“Ma’am, my husband has just been murdered. I came today to look for answers. I found none. Why do I get the feeling that you are hiding something, something that is– or will be- associated with the case?”
Surprisingly, the woman laughed… But underneath her eyes glinted with anger.
“Oh, no no,” she said, “I am a poor huntsman’s wife, educated in London, grown in the Russian slums. If there is murder, why would you think that it is I who has committed the crime?”
I wasn’t convinced.
“Let’s just call it intuition. I never said that you were the murderer, but there is certainly something out of place here. Do you really expect me to believe your innocent act anyway?”
“Mrs. Howard,” The Russian woman surprised me with my own name, but then her voice was lighter, “This is not your fight, and not your place to meddle in. Don’t bother about finishing the tea. Turn left, then right after fifty yards, then left again, and you should reach the car park if you keep walking from there.”
She seemed to be roughly guiding me up out of my seat. I could see her toughness and the sort of coldness that only a Russian woman could give. My eyes flickered around the cabin; pictures of red flowers hanging on the walls of every room, mats tucked snuggly and appropriately into corners, plastic flowers in the center of those (metaphorical) plastic tables; no prizes of hunting; no hunter’s horned trophies… It was all too fake.
At the door, I wrenched my arm from the grip of the woman’s wrist (only then did I realise that the woman had been escorting me out the door).
“Where is your husband?” I demanded, looking her straight in the eye.
“Out…” He voice was like stone.
“Really?” I frowned, “Or has he run away?”
The Russian woman’s grey eyes narrowed as she shook her head. She gazed long and hard at me before replying.
“He’s gone, dead. He was shot… He knew something… I’ve always wondered if he saw the villain… It isn’t safe, Mrs. Howard. Not here, not anywhere.”
Her eyes became wide, tearful.
“It’s not even safe in these woods. Don’t try to find the correct information, it’ll only end in disaster.”
I shook my head, trying to clear the dizziness that was forming.
“It all just makes me more determined…” I told her.
She sighed. I was, by then, outside the building completely.
“Please be careful, okay, we need another woman like you here alive. Your world is no longer sane or safe, and too many good women lose their lives daily, defending their men.”
And then she closed the door.
And I was alone again.
Alone and puzzled.