Time went slowly by. I talked to lots of people, most of them wearing black. They all told me how wonderful my mum was. I was grateful, but I just wanted them to leave.
Finally the last of the mourners said her goodbyes. It was, of course, Mrs Bennet.
‘I hope to see you around, Willow. Harper’s Wood needs young people like you. And I have to introduce you to my nephew, Josh. He’s just bought a cottage down the road.’
‘Thanks, Mrs Bennet. I’m looking forward to it,’ I said. But what I was really thinking was that if he was half as nosy as his aunt I didn’t want to meet him. Ever.
I closed the door and went to the kitchen. Aunt Lucy was sitting at the table, cradling a blue mug in her hands.
‘Tea?’ she asked.
I sat down and looked around. Mum’s house was lovely, but the kitchen was the best room. The wooden units and the brick walls created a country style atmosphere that made it cosy and comfortable.
‘How are you?’
‘Exhausted. And you?’
‘Same. So, now what? Are you going back to London tomorrow?’
‘No, I have asked for a week off. And I have to decide what to do. Do you think I should come back? It kind of makes sense… I don’t want to sell the house. Maybe I could do some freelance writing.’
‘That’d be great. If you stayed, I wouldn’t be so lonely…’
We talked a bit more and decided to leave the tidying for the next day. After an hour, when the sun started setting, Aunt Lucy said she had to go.
‘I’ll come back tomorrow at nine, okay?’
‘Perfect. And thanks for your help, Aunt Lucy.’
‘That’s what family is for.’
I watched her walking to her car and then went up the stairs to my old room. The house felt too big and silent without Mum. Maybe it would be better to just sell it and go back to London.
I was too tired to take off my clothes, so I just lay on my bed and closed my eyes. Just as I was drifting off to sleep, I saw Mum standing opposite me. She looked different somehow, translucent and ethereal.
‘Mum? Is that you?’ I asked.
‘Yes, dear,’ the figure said.
‘Why are you here?’
‘I had something to tell you. Do look in the attic, will you? Read my diaries and you’ll understand.’
‘Understand what?’ I asked.
But just then, I opened my eyes and she was gone. I was on my own, surrounded by darkness.
I was so freaked out by my dream or whatever that had been, that I got up and put on my dressing gown. Suddenly I felt cold, even though the temperature had seemed okay before.
Downstairs in the kitchen, I made another cup of tea. I thought of calling Aunt Lucy, but it was too late.
The attic was the only room in the house I didn’t like. It was dusty and drafty and for some reason gave me the creeps. However, I wanted to find those diaries.
I opened a drawer and took out a torch. I pressed the button to make sure it worked. Fortunately, it did. I wondered if Mum had used it recently.
I went up the stairs and into the attic. It was as dusty and uninviting as I remembered it.
In one corner, I could see some of my old toys. My high school books were sitting on some wooden shelves. But where were Mum’s diaries? The truth was I had never seen them.There was a trunk that held old clothes, what if she had hidden them there?