Even the crows refused to land on that house. It looked ordinary but a dark presence lingered.
Tom however was new to the area. And being young and human he couldn’t sense what the crows could. So when his favourite ball flew into that garden he went in to get it.
The woman of the house was out in flash. She had an electric voice.
‘You’re new’ she said trying to smile but failing to hide her glumbucket grimace.
‘Yes. My ball is in your back garden, can I get it please?’
‘What’s your name?’
‘Where are your parents Tom?’
‘My Dad’s at home, but he’s more interested in his computer than me. I came out to play football. He never wants to play these days.’
She looked around the village. It was quiet today.
‘Come and get your ball so’ she said.
She took Tom round the back where he got his ball.
‘You must be thirsty after kicking your ball so hard. Would you like a glass of cola? I’ve got a bottle in the fridge.’
Tom paused. There was a rule against this but she was very old. There were holes in her slippers.
‘Ok. That would be nice.’
‘Come on in so.’
Once inside it felt nice to be in some shade.
‘It’s hot today.’
As they passed through the hall Tom noticed a boy’s duffel coat handing on the stand. It looked about his size. He got excited at the idea of a new friend.
‘Do you have a boy too?’
‘The coat was my son’s.’
They continued deeper into the gloomy interior.
They passed a bedroom and Tom noticed a pile of children’s coats on the bed. Red duffels. Blue parkas. Pink macs. A real assortment.
They went into the kitchen. She took a bottle of cola out of the fridge. It looked ancient.
She poured Tom a glass.
It tasted strange.
‘How old are you?’
‘And do you have any brothers or sisters?’
‘No, just me. I hate this new place. It’s boring.’
She smiled sadly.
Tom began to feel sleepy.
‘You looked tired. Why don’t you go into the sitting room and watch television?’
‘That would be good.’
She took Tom to the sitting room. The curtains were closed against the day.
There was a pile of children’s coats on the sofa too.
Tom didn’t mind now. He was too tired.
He slumped down on them and fell asleep.