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 Katie Wagstaff 

Katie is 

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How way leads on to way

I know I hear footsteps. I peer over my thick duvet, trying to see any shapes moving in the shadows. I hear them rummaging in the kitchen. That’s good. This is a big house; it’ll take them a while to reach me up here. I have some time. I slip silently out from under the heavy queen-sized duvet in my silk nightie and pad barefoot across the white marble floor to the door. I squeeze through without touching it, to try and prevent it from squeaking. Success. Stay close to the walls – the floorboards are quieter there. Scaling the smooth, plain wall, straining my ears to hear any movements, I make my way to my son’s room. The familiar smell fills me with love and warms me. Thank goodness he isn’t home. He shouldn’t have to see what I am about to do – he’s four. He has gone on a ski holiday in Switzerland with his father. It should have been a family trip. My heart wrenches at the thought of them. I’ve been so lonely this past week without them.

 

A glass breaks downstairs, interrupting my train of thought and kicking me back into action. I approach his empty bed, neatly made by the maids, and stand on top of it.

 

The footsteps have left the kitchen. They’re walking across the marble hallway floor. Two sets of footsteps. Towards the stairs.

 

I reach up and remove my son’s baseball bat from its place of honour – mounted on the wall above his bed.

 

They’re walking slowly, their heavy steps taunting me. Almost as if they know I’m here.

 

I scramble down from the bed, sliding into position behind the door.

 

They reach the top of the stairs.

 

A moment of doubt flickers across my mind as I wait. Shouldn’t I call the police instead? I think of my phone on my bedside table across the hall.

 

Their steps echo off the shiny floors and bare walls, as they approach the door of my son’s room.

 

It’s too late to back out now. I can take care of them myself. I tighten my grip on the handle of the bat.

 

I hear their breaths on the other side of the door.

 

I close my eyes and prepare to swing.

 

       ---        ---        ---        ---        ---      

 

If I had known that my decision that night would change everything, I would have been more cautious. If I had known that I would end up here, I wouldn’t have been so careless. I did this to myself. I did this to them. I’ve tried to make my cell more like home, but I am alone and everyone I love is gone. Because of me. I chose violence and now I’ve lost everything. I didn’t know they would come home.

 

That night, the intruders were not intruders at all.

 

At least they were buried together.

 

Father and Son, together forever.