by themapofantarctica


They were going through all of the boxes, she said. Didn’t leave a thing unturned.

I see.

Riffling through, as though there was no tomorrow.

Did they take anything? He asked.

And then they moved on to the bins. Systematic they were, not a care in the world. Lord only knows what they were after. There was two of them. They were obviously, you know, working for someone.

Did they take anything? Again, looking up to make eye contact.

A few things. It was hard to see. Besides, I didn’t want them to know I was watching. I think they took some papers.

He nodded.

It’s like nothing is safe. That’s how it feels.

Was it documentation? Letters?

It was hard to see, she said.

There was a silence.

Should I have gone out, do you think? Anxiety was beginning to seep through in her voice.

Another short silence.

I nearly banged on the window, but I thought better of it.

The man wrote all of it down on his jotter.

I rang Arthur. At number 17.

The Constable looked up.

He said there was nothing to worry about. He said not to interfere. I said it was them who were interfering, not me.

That’s certainly what it sounds like, said the officer.

I’m glad you said that. She moved her hand up to the side of her neck. Anyway, I did go out onto the street. Just after they’d gone. I watched them turn the corner of the road, right down at the end. It was a black car. Shiny, it was.

What were they wearing?

One of them was in a suit, the other was in jeans and shirt. They looked professional. She looked at him. It’s ever so good that you’re here. I feel protected, she said.

That’s what we’re here for, said the policeman.

Do you like protecting people?

He made eye contact with her.

Did you recognise either of the men?

I can’t say I did, no. They had sunglasses on.

There was an awkward silence as neither of them spoke.

Was it one of the reasons you got into this line of work? To protect people. I feel safe now that you’re here.

It’s all part of the job, he said.

He took a final look through the window to the scene of the incident, holding the net curtains to one side. The bins were a mess but otherwise the street looked placid.

Well, if anything else happens, be sure to let us know. In the meantime telling your neighbours to be alert is not such a bad idea.

She nodded and tilted her head to one side, coquettish.

I better be on my way, he said, putting his pen and notebook back into his pocket.

With the click of the latch she was straight to the window, watching the Constable walk down the drive.

She took a long, deep breath and slipped her hand down beneath the waistband of her skirt.

See you next week, she breathed into the glass.