Chapter 4 The webs we weave

Written by: Suraya Dewing

Stephen hovered by the window without interest. He shrugged. He began to turn away but then spun back.

Wondering if the rabbit had returned, Angelica stretched around him, careful not to let his body touch hers. Yes, the rabbit was back and sat sitting on a weed covered log nibbling yet another carrot from the overgrown vegetable plot. Its ears flicked back and forth as the sun played over it.

As if sensing someone watched, it stopped and with a jerking movement looked up and fixed its soft brown eyes on Stephen. It stopped nibbling. Angelica was surprised to realise that she held her breath, afraid that if she moved she might frighten the cute little creature away. It rose on to its hind paws and ran its paws over its face.

Just as she was about to declare how cute it was, Stephen rumbled, “What is that little rodent doing in your garden?”

She gasped at the harshness of his voice.

“You can see it then?” she asked.

“Nasty little pest. You should trap it and make stew.”

A violent shudder shook her body.

“I’ll do nothing of the kind.”

As if alerted by danger, the rabbit dropped the carrot, letting it tumble over the log and land, half eaten, on a clump of grass. Then, as if seized by a sense of urgency, the rabbit hopped away.

But Stephen barely noticed. His icy blue eyes had settled on something else. They narrowed as he reached out and ran a finger along the window frame. White flaking paint drifted to the floor and settled in tiny white accusing scabs on the dusty wooden floor.

Embarrassment flushed red up Angelica’s neck. She was never very good at housework. He caught a fine cobweb and curled it around his finger. It stretched out in a grey stringy thread and hung between them, swinging. A humourless smile touched his lips. He looked around him.

“Needs a bit of a clean,” he observed, swinging the cobweb in front her like a pendulum ticking time away.

Fury flashed through her. Putting both hands either side of his waist she turned him around to face the exit. Taken aback, Stephen allowed her to steer him to the landing at the top of the stairs. Eventually he overcame his surprise and planted his Nikes in protest. He turned to face her and was preparing to harangue her when the look on her face stopped him.

“I think you should go,” she said.

He dangled the cobweb in front of her and spluttered. “I think you need me.”

“Hah,” she sneered. “Great handyman you would make.”

She tried to snatch the cobweb away and he pulled it out of reach. He wobbled then recovered his balance. She was too angry to care that his heels tilted a long way over the step. She grabbed at the cobweb again, and once again, he snatched it away. The cobweb curled flimsily down the stairwell. “Go,” she growled flicking her hands at him.

He tilted away, heels curling down over the step. His face filled with horror as he over balanced.