It’s been a while since I’ve written about Jay, a woman with a new identity who is now living in the seaside village of Oxhope. It hasn’t yet been revealed why she is there, or what happened in her past that has meant she has had to start a new life, but she is beginning to come to terms – and even settle into it. She has begun to make some casual friends, people at the pub, the woman next door, but is still cautious and wary. Her house in the village backs onto a stream, and one evening, in the garden there’s a mumbled conversation going on in a nearby garden and she hears someone say ‘I could bloody kill you!’.
Jay thinks about this: I could bloody kill you! Who had said it? Now replaying it in her mind, it had become sinister, but maybe it was just her own secret fear making it seem so. A low vicious voice. She replayed her own thoughts.
It wasn’t said threateningly as if there was any intention, it wasn’t said as a possibility ‘I could kill you if I wanted to, I’m quite capable of it, you know’. It had been a cross voice, an angry voice…
Had it been a cross voice? Had it been a vicious voice? Who were the people who lived in the terrace of houses there? Hmm, intriguing! A little village mystery, St Mary Mead reborn as Oxhope, and Jay as Miss Marple – not Jane Marple but Jay Marple!
Here is the next part:
Today was the day to put your bins out – except it wasn’t, last night was when you put them out for the binmen to collect first thing. Jay should have remembered this, but although she’d been in Oxhope for six weeks now, she kept forgetting. Fortunately she had got up early, determined to finish a boring report she should have finished and sent off a couple of days ago.
It had rained non-stop for the past two days, and trapped inside she’d felt less inclined to work than if she had been out for what was becoming her daily run. She couldn’t face it, couldn’t face getting wet, splashing through puddles, but instead of settling to finish the report, she’d just sat by her rain-streaked window, her mind elsewhere.
Today she woke with the sun streaming through her open bedroom door – her workroom across the passage looking over the back garden faced east, she had the sunset at the front of the house. She felt bright, fresh and had got up, gone downstairs, and was standing in the kitchen waiting for the kettle when she noticed the dustcart.
She dashed out, grabbed the bins, hoping she remembered whether it was green waste or household waste today, and dragged them to the gate. The top bolt was stiff, but she wrenched it back and had the bins at the top of the drive while the dustcart was still only halfway down the road. There was an elderly couple walking their dog and they called out a friendly greeting and she replied. This was such a pleasant and ordinary start to the day that Jay felt more positive and full of energy and ready to go for a run, before breakfast, so run she did
The morning run energised her further, even though she ran a different longer loop down to the beach and round, and back through the village, up the high street past the pretty cottages, and over the little bridge and home.
Perhaps today she would do her work later, perhaps today she would do what she’d been meaning to for a while, explore the village and take some photos. She wouldn’t share them on social media – that was something in the past, she could – would do nothing now which would signal her presence, even with the name she now had. Her low profile would remain that, even as Jay Allen.
Afterwards she reflected on the innocent decision which had once again cast an anxious shadow over her new life.
Afterwards there was a blur in her memory from that decision to go out to explore, could barely remember leaving her house, walking down the passage beside it, over the river, and back along the high street.
What remained in her mind, and haunted her dreams for a while, was the scream.