Don walked in a calm steady pace. Occasionally he would stop to look into a store window, admiring the display, or lingering over a book cover. Before he started to move on he glanced back, then he started walking again. A little habit he had picked up, a quirk. To an outsider it would have looked as though he was checking for oncoming people before stepping back into the flow of foot traffic. All he needed was that glance, just a quick check and he was able to scan and catalogue the people he had seen. This too was a habit he had picked up, a fast way to figure out if someone was following you or not. Satisfied that he was still alone he continued on his journey, he was still about twenty minutes from his destination. As he strolled he breathed in the fresh air, occasionally he stopped and actually went into a shop to have a quick browse. His favourite was the old second hand bookshop that was about the halfway point in his journey. He stepped inside and breathed deeply, he had a quick look through the bargain bins, then paused as a book on the shelf caught his eye. He flicked through it and after a seconds indecision he bought it. He left a few moments later, carefully placing the book, and the brown paper bag it had come in, into his back pack.
He continued on his journey, taking his time. It was much easier to spot someone tailing you if you were moving slowly. Don continued on his meandering journey, keeping an eye out, but there was no one, there had never been before, but it didn’t mean it wouldn’t happen. He had been expecting a tail from the moment he found it five years before and each passing day just increased the risk.
He stood in front of the house, checking the mailbox for any mail, finding none he went up the path and knocked gently on the door, his heart thudding as he waited. A moment later it opened and he stepped inside.
He had found the house five years before on an ordinary day. He had been out for a walk at his doctors recommendation. He was getting older and as he aged his stomach started to expand, a little pudge at first, then a belly, finally a great pendulous weight. Myra, his wife, had nagged at him incessantly to lose weight, Don never pointed out that she was the one that was feeding him, supplying him with greasy foods and take aways. Myra used to be a good cook, she used to be a good woman too, but that all changed after the death of their daughter Sally. Myra was never the same after that. So at Myra’s constant, needling advice he went to the doctor, who sided with Myra and told him he needed to lose weight, and fast. He walked only short distances at first, surprised at how out of breath the walks left him. He knew he wasn’t exactly fit, but he had never realised how bad he really was. Most of his exercise was walking to or from the car. After a week or two of walking he started to cut back on his calories and the weight seemed to be melting off. The walks became longer, partially because he was happy with his weight loss, but mostly they became an excuse to get out of the house and away from Myra. He had never noticed it before, but she was always surrounded by an air of gloom. He had forgotten that she used to smile and laugh. He realised that he himself had been the same, the two of them dragging each other down. He tried to convince Myra to come on his walks with him, but she always turned him down. It was after one such argument that he found himself in front of the house.
He had tried to convince Myra to come out, just for a little short jaunt around the neighbourhood but she refused, using excuse after excuse. She didn’t need to lose weight, she was already thin as a rake, but Don suspected that the fresh air and sunshine might do her a little good. She rarely left the house these days, usually only going out to do some shopping, or a last minute run to a fast food place to pick up dinner. Even then Don was normally sent for the take out. He was annoyed when he stepped out of the house, annoyed that Myra wouldn’t go with him and started to walk. He didn’t pay attention to where he was gong, he just let his feet decide. It was almost thirty minutes later that he realised he didn’t know where he was anymore. He had taken a few turns, then a few more at a fast clip and now he was completely and utterly lost. He looked around for something that would tell him where he was, but there were no signs. He saw a light on top of the door of one of the houses and he turned into their garden. He knocked on the door, feeling slightly foolish, and waited. A moment later a woman answered the door, she was middle aged, wearing a thick robe, her hair was a light blond and long, if a little scraggly. Her lips were a light pink and her eyes were a bright blue. It was her eyes that he noticed first, everything else seemed to fade away.
“Yes? May I help you?”
“I’m sorry, I got turned around and now I’m lost, I was hoping you would be able to tell me where I am?”
She frowned at him, “Where are you trying to get to?”
“Well, do you know Henry’s Supermarket?”
“Yes, it’s about a ten minute walk from here.”
Don smiled, “Perfect, I can get home from there.”
“You look thirsty, would you like a glass of water?”
Don realised how dry and scratchy his throat was, he coughed, “Yes actually, that would be great.”
The woman stepped aside and gestured for him to enter. Don had expected her to close the door and return with the drink.
He stepped inside, feeling awkward and unsure of himself.
“The kitchen is just through there.”
Don heard the door close behind him as he walked down the hallway. There was a peculiar smell to the house, with hints of cinnamon and dust. After a second he decided that the smell was actually quite pleasant, it was soothing, the cinnamon reminding him of baking pies. The kitchen was gloomy, as was the hall, but he chalked that up to the fact it was getting dark outside. The woman entered behind him and turned on the light, it didn’t do much to alleviate the shadows.
“Bright lights hurt my eyes.”
“That’s ok, I don’t mind.”
“Sit, I’ll get you that water.”
Don sat at the table as she filled a glass and handed it to him, he took a sip, “Thank you, I really appreciate this.”
“No bother. No harm to help a stranger in need, is there?”
“No, I guess not. I’m sure your husband wouldn’t approve of you letting me in though.”
She moved one hand over the other, concealing the ring she wore on her wedding finger, “I don’t have a husband. Not anymore.”
“I’m sorry. I know how difficult it can be to lose someone.”
She shook her head, “He isn’t dead, he just left me.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
She gave one quick nod.
Don drained the glass and put it on the table, “Well, I better get going, thank you again for the water.”
“Don’t mention it.”
He stood, she remained sitting, “Which direction did you say the supermarket was?”
“I didn’t. Once you go outside, take a left, then the first right you get to. Straight down that road.”
Don turned and started to walk towards the hallway, he stopped as she put her hand on his shoulder, “Who did you lose?”
“I’m sorry?” He turned to look at her, frowning,
“You said you lost someone.”
“Oh. My daughter. Sally.”
“She was four, my wife Myra was watching her and the phone rang. She left her for just a second.” Don looked at the ground, “Sally choked on a toy. She had a terrible habit of chewing them. We were trying to break it but…”
The woman nodded, “I’m sorry.”
Don shrugged, her hand was still on his shoulder, hot and heavy.
“May I show you something?”
She started at him intently, her blue eyes seeming to gaze into his very soul. Don nodded weakly. Her hand slid down his arm and she wrapped her fingers over his, she walked passed him, pulling him behind her. She stopped at a door, “It leads to the basement.”
She opened the door and stepped inside, flipping a switch. The entire room sparkled, glass globes lined the walls and the floor.
“Isn’t it? It isn’t finished yet though.”
“It looks perfect.”
“There’s one thing missing.”
He turned to look at her, to ask her what, but before he could speak she leaned forward and her lips met his. Her lips were full and hot, it felt as though he could feel the blood pulsing through them. Instantly he was surrounded by heat, his heart hammering. It had been a long time since Myra had kissed him, years, perhaps even decades. He melted into her embrace and returned the kiss with fervour. At that moment he knew he was hers and would be hers forever.
Inside the hall he looked at her, she was even more beautiful than the day they met. Since then the glass globes had filled the house, coating every available surface, she went to him, wrapping her arms around him. The things that now filled the glass globes twitched in dreamless sleep, sensing the excitement around them. Soon the ones in the basement would hatch and he would have his child back, he would have hundreds of them. She broke the kiss, panting heavily, he shivered as a single drop of drool oozed from her mouth, he longed to lick it, to taste her again. “They will be hungry when they hatch.” Don nodded, “They will need food.”
“Good. I think it’s time I meet Myra, don’t you agree?”
“Yes my love.”
“It seems fitting. She took your child from you, now she will help your children live.”
Don nodded again, he could feel her hands all over him, stroking his hair, his back, his thighs. They tightened, pulling him close once more as their lips met and for a few, sweet hours he was lost in her entirely.