“Bridge to Eternity” by Romola Farr
Blurb: Audrey, recently widowed, is not saying why she left her comfortable home in the south of England to move into an old school boarding house on the edge of a moor. Tina, a young estate agent, is concerned for Audrey’s safety as she believes the folklore about a schoolboy who never went home. Property developers, annoyed at losing a site ripe for demolition, make plans to encourage Audrey to sell. Malcolm, a charming widower, brings a welcome light into Audrey’s life until it shines into a very dark corner…
At the bottom of the stairs, steaming mug of cocoa in hand, Audrey looked up into the dark above and thought about the man she had met with the injured back. In the belief that houses reflect the spirit of the owner, Audrey put on a brave smile and placed her foot on the first step, which groaned in protest under her weight. Very soon, she would appreciate that the old house creaked and howled at any excuse, whether it was from her weight on the stairs or from the wind that would often cut across the moor and whip the angular building on its way through the town.
Despite switching on all the lights, the impregnable shadows conspired to play tricks with her mind, helped by the accompanying creak of the floorboards. She wanted to hurry up the stairs to the cosy refuge of the top dormitory room, but she didn’t want to spill her hot drink, so the climb was eerily creepy and slow. The house was cold, and although at this time of night, since the death of her husband, she always felt alone, she also felt a kind of presence that almost gave her comfort. Her rational mind laughed at herself, and she was smiling as she entered the top dormitory. Maybe she had been mad choosing a room so far from the nearest lavatory, but it was easily the cosiest. In time, she would move to another, larger room but, for now, this one suited her best.
She slipped out of her clothes and took masochistic pleasure in the cold biting into her thin flesh. She kept her vest on and slipped her nightdress over the top. Her phone was her link with the outside world, and she looked around for a plug socket for her charger. She found a Bakelite socket that was on the lighting circuit, designed for turning on table lamps from a wall switch, but her modern plug was the wrong size for the small, rounded holes. She moved a couple of beds and located a single, wall-mounted socket that had the contemporary rectangular holes. She plugged in her phone, turned off the centre light and climbed into the narrow bed with its strangely comforting lumpy mattress. She took a deep breath and laughed at her situation; she was lying on an old iron bed in a freezing room in a creaky house in an unfamiliar town and had not a clue what was going to transpire over the coming weeks.
With her eyes closed and the room lit only by a full moon, Audrey wrapped the thin blankets around her frame and drifted off to sleep. A cloud blotted out the moon, and the dormitory became almost pitch black.
A few minutes later, she stirred and opened her eyes but couldn’t see a thing. She rolled onto her side and let sleep envelop her once again. The moon reappeared from behind the cloud and cast a small, human shadow on the far wall.
**About Romola Farr: I started my working life in the theatre and was very lucky to find myself on the West End stage in a hit play at the age of 16. My career and life nearly ended there as I was knocked down by a car on the way home one Saturday night. I recovered and went on to be quite a successful photographic model. Later, when that part of my career did die, I turned to
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