A silent memory

Jay, a woman with a new identity 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 including two women similar in age to her called Emma and Gemma, but she is still cautious and wary. Out for a stroll round the village, she and Em coincide as a woman runs screaming from a cottage shouting that someone inside is hurt. Jay and Em rush inside and out in the back garden they see another woman lying half in the stream which runs past. Her blouse is pulled up and there’s blood everywhere.

It was very strange. It was as if the sound had been switched off, and the movie was running in slo-mo – even afterwards thinking back, it was a silent memory. Somehow Jay knew that Em was a doctor – because she must have told her so previously, and she now mutely repeated it, calling out that she was, and Em must have instructed Jay to help lift the woman out of the stream and lay her on the grass. Em must have told her to call for an ambulance and the police, because she was ringing them, and she must have given details but had no clear memory of having spoken at all.
Jay thought there was a scarf, across the woman’s face, but it was her sodden blonde hair which Em had gently lifted to one side.
“I don’t think there’s anything we can do for her,” Em said, and now Jay heard her clearly, but with a strange bell-like clarity – still in a dream.
“Has she drowned?” Jay asked and her voice trembled and she stuttered d-d-d-drowned.
“I think she was dead before she went into the water, her throat is well and truly – ” and Em faltered, gulping and swallowing.
Jay’s gaze was fixed on the dreadful wound exposing things she’d only seen in forensic crime shows.
“Should we cover her face?”
Em didn’t answer, was kneeling by the woman, shaking with the shock, despair painted across her face – a doctor unable to save a life.
Jay went back into the kitchen, and it was only as her trainers squelched that she realised she was soaked to the knee. She must have gone into the rhyne to lift the woman out.
She felt an overwhelming urge to weep, but swallowed it back, took a folded tea towel from a pile and squelched back out of the kitchen. She could hear sirens, and felt weak with relief that others were coming who would take charge and take over.
She unfolded the tea towel and laid it across the peaceful face. She knew this woman. She was – she had been the sullen blond woman who she’d seen at the pub when it was Otterfest.



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