There was nothing overtly wrong in the house, but there was an underlying smell, beneath the scent of citrus and potpourri, something sour and earthy with a hint of rot. The other smells did a good job of covering it, Jason was only getting the occasional whiff of it and it could have easily be passed off as coming from the garden if the windows had been open. Angela entered the room carrying a tray, she shuffled rather than walked, it seemed as though she could drop the tray at any moment. “Are you sure you don’t need a hand?”
“No, not at all, the day I can’t make tea for a guest is the day I might as well just lay down and die.”
Jason smiled awkwardly, not sure how to respond. She set the tray down on the table, cups and saucers rattling and clinking lightly. She poured the tea into the cups, it was dark, darker than he would have expected, she looked up at him, “Milk and sugar?”
“Yes, please.” She nodded then added them, she gave it a stir with a small spoon then passed the cup to Jason. Jason took a small sip to be polite, surprised at how delicious the tea actually was. He took another, longer sip. “Thank you, it’s lovely.”
She smiled, “I’ve always been told I make a good cup of tea.” She finished making her own and sat down across from him.
“So, you’re the one in the house across the road, must say I’ve never really known the neighbours from there. Quiet people, kept to themselves. Are you moving in by yourself?”
“No, myself and my girlfriend, I just wanted to come over to say hello, figured I’d introduce myself to the neighbours.”
She nodded, “Yes, of course. It’s a bit of a strange neighbourhood, mostly quiet though, people seem to keep to themselves. I’m home most of the day so if you need someone to keep an eye on the house if you go away or to sign for a package, feel free to let me know.”
Jason smiled, “thanks.” He took another sip of tea. The woman was odd, but she didn’t seem dangerous, he would be polite, drink the tea then wave to her whenever he saw her outside.
Angela picked up the tray and carried it back to the kitchen, the boy seemed nice enough but she didn’t really recall his name. Not much point, most people moved out of that house after a few months. The longest was two years and well, they all knew how that turned out. Nasty business, all over the news too. Angela knew there was little point in warning the boy or his girlfriend, no one ever listened anyway. People thought she was going mad, or was just senile, but she wasn’t. She was as sharp as she’d ever been. But she did watch, looking out the window at the people passing by, keeping track of the neighbourhood. It helped fill the days really. She used to gossip with Miriam, who lived a few streets over, until Miriam got sick. Now she just kept all her juicy titbits to herself. There were other things though, things she saw in the night. Things she told no one about. Who would believe her after all? Creatures skulking in the shadows, the man next door carrying a heavy, body shaped lump to his car and driving away, that poor drunk girl who had been attacked a few weeks back. Things happened on this street, but no one talked about it, everyone just went about their lives, able to fill it with distractions like work. Angela didn’t have that luxury.
She watched as the new couple unloaded the moving truck, it had come late, he had told her about it, missing items or some such. She hadn’t been paying attention at that point, it was clear the boy wouldn’t last too long. The girl on the other hand, she seemed strong, and there was something about the way she carried herself, determined, confident. Maybe she’d stick around a bit longer than he would. You never really knew how things would play out on the street, anything could happen.