The house looms behind me, grey and forbidding in the moonlight. From the turret window a light flickers so briefly I can’t be sure I saw it. Ever since I arrived on the island I have had the sensation I am being watched, that someone wants me gone. But I no longer trust my senses. There is so much that is strange about Greyfriars.
It is very still. As if the island is holding its breath. I move towards the shore. What my great-aunt has told me so far has shaken me. And there is more to come. More secrets to be revealed. I am not sure I can bear to hear them.
As I pick my way along the rough path I think regretfully of the torch left behind in the porch. But I persevere, wanting to put distance between me and the house. The moon and stars provide just enough light although every now and again scudding clouds obscure the moon and I am momentarily plunged into darkness.
I continue through the trees, innocuous in the daytime, but in the shifting darkness as sinister as watching sentinels. Then at last I am in the open again, the sea, glittering in the moonlight, stretching in front of me. I suck in lungfuls of salty air and my pulse slows.
A rustle comes from the copse behind me and my heart kicks as I whirl around. Something has moved within the shadows. I think of the ghostly presences my mother told me about, then immediately dismiss the thought with an impatient click of my tongue. The only ghosts are the ones in my head. Some placed there by Georgina, others of my own making.
Tiger has run off and I can hear cracking of branches as she sniffs amongst the piles of rotting leaves. A shape swoops over my head and I smother a cry. A flutter and a flash. It is just the owl that roosts in the eaves, returning with a mouse trapped in its beak.
It isn’t just the house that unsettles me, or the two women within, it is me, the way I feel inside. Untethered and adrift. A boat without an anchor at the mercy of the wind and tide.
I’d told myself I’d come here to find answers although I knew, deep down, I was fleeing from the world, my grief, my guilt, from having to make a decision about the rest of my life.
Tiger growls. She has emerged from the bushes and is standing in front of the copse of trees, her ears up, her tail rigid behind her. The hair on the back of my neck stands on end. I know she is there before I see her. The figure emerges from the shadows, her face hidden. I have seen her before. Edith sleepwalking I’ve been told. I no longer believe it.