John stared out the window, hands behind his back, stiff, tense, bored. The rain had steadied to a drizzle but the atmosphere remained gloomy. A dull dark grey sky seemed to want to push through the big bay window into the room.
John sighed. It was as if the greyness outside mirrored his mind. He hadn’t slept in days. There is no loneliness like the loneliness of a mansion with a single occupant. No dreariness like a cold empty room.
Visibility seemed to improve. He could make out the driveway, tall Maple trees devoid of leaves giving a ghostly aura to the landscape. There appeared to be some movement in the distance. John peered looking for the stray fox or deer. No, not an animal, it looked taller, walked upright. For a fleeting moment John felt a quickening of his pulse – maybe a visitor?
A figure, definitely a figure, a female figure walking away from the house, wearing a long dress, carrying an umbrella. Alone.
How could that be? His was the only establishment for miles around and he had had no visitors. A slow dread seeped into his bones.
John peered again. Definitely a woman, definitely walking away.
He had to take the chance. John grabbed an umbrella from the hall-stand and rushed out splashing water in his hurry. She seemed to be unaware of his approach, walking steadily away.
In desperation John called. “Wait” he said. “Wait for me”.
She kept walking – without a backward glance. Her gait caused no splashes. She seemed to be floating.
John caught up with her and and slowed to walk alongside. She turned, faced him, smiled and said “enjoying the mansion are you? Was it worth it?”
John’s face crumpled. Then he straightened up, looked Estella in the eye even as she melted away, her ghostly form becoming a wisp of cloud, then a drop of rain.
“Yes” he said. “Yes. And I would do it again.”
John dragged himself back to the house. “When is it going to stop?, When will I stop running out to meet her like this?”