Alice dropped the mug onto the floor, where it shattered into a dozen pieces and sprayed hot tea all over Carol’s legs. It sprayed up her thick-wrinkled tights in dark splodges. Though Alice hardly noticed, her mind was busy elsewhere.
“ALICE!” Carol shrieked, springing out of her chair. “Look what you’ve done! I’ve got a doctors appointment in half an hour, I’ll have to change now.” She said, shaking her head and bending to inspect-the-damage.
“Sorry.” Alice replied in a far-away voice, slumping into her chair.
Carol, now struggling to reach her ankles to rub at the splodges, stopped to compose herself. There was gossip at-stake.
“Alice, what’s wrong?” She asked, raising her eyebrows to the sympathetic-peak of a Samaritan.
“What did he look like?” Alice croaked, ignoring the question. “Was he... old?”
“The man who was looking for you?” Carol asked, with puzzled-furrows.
“Why do you ask? Are you in trouble?” Carol probed, attempting with no success to meet Alice’s gaze. Alice jumped out of her chair with sudden restlessness and made her way to the door, where she shuffled the net curtain to one side and surveyed the street for a moment. It was empty - still. However, her line of vision was restricted by a large conifer and a white Transit van. It was inconvenient - damned inconvenient.
“Hmm?” Alice replied, turning to her bewildered companion. Carol's tongue was now half-poked out, she looked like a mutt with a squeak-toy (if she’d had a tail it would have been wagging!) Alice thought.
“Are you in trouble?” Carol asked, treading carefully over the puddle of tea and broken coffee-mug, as she edged closer with the tact of a negotiator.
“I have to go out!” Alice replied, tugging at the collar of her coat as if to point-out to Carol that she’d been half-out-of-the-door when she’d arrived - when she’d invited herself in.
“But I thought we were talking?” Carol tried, hanging her shoulders like an ape. Alice thought Carol looked like she’d just reached an anti-climax and she felt the corner of her mouth twitch as she toyed-with-the-idea for a moment-too-long.
“I just have a lot on right now. I’ll fill you in you later!” Alice promised, clicking open the front door and ushering her disgruntled neighbour out onto the porch.
“I’ll call you!” Alice said, making a fumbling gesture at her coat pockets and putting on her best – ‘where did I put the car-keys?’ face, whilst shrewdly watching Carol turn away and start up the garden path.
Good. That’s one problem taken care of Alice thought, turning back to the house. As she did she stopped, her breath caught for a moment, her pulse fluttering.
A bit strange that - don’t you think? Carol forgiving you so easily! A voice stirred.
As the thought jumped out at her Alice heard Carol’s heels stop clicking the concrete.
“It’s come to me now.” Carol purred. Alice took a peek over her left shoulder enough to catch Carol from the corner of her eye swaying on her feet.
“Flynn! His name was Flynn.” She said, disappearing around the conifer.
“Flynn?” Alice croaked. “Not Frank... Flynn!” She whispered, as she leaned against the cool-oak door frame for a moment, her head helium-light as she processed the information.
She gazed up at the bright-blue sky at a puffy white cloud and closed her eyes for a moment, sucking in a deep breath of cool-summer air and freshly-cut-grass. In the distance she could hear a mower buzzing - background-noise nothing more. She repeated his name through her mind where it swirled and dipped into a headache.