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. Em, who is a doctor, tries to help as Jay calls for an ambulance and the police.
The story continues later on, in Em’s house.
Every so often there was the sound of vehicles outside turning in the road because they had ignored the police signs ROAD CLOSED – POLICE INCIDENT, and the headlights would sweep round Em’s sitting room.
It had been a long day, and the sun had dropped down into the sea, and they were in Em’s house. Gem was with them, making cups of tea, letting them talk – or not, without asking them any questions except things like would you like some toast, how about a glass of wine, shall I put some music on.
Jay and Em had been interviewed by the police but they could say nothing because they knew nothing. They didn’t know the dead woman, Cathy Parr (like Henry VIII’s wife, Gem had nearly blurted when she was told) they had never been in the house before, they didn’t see anyone or anything because their passage through it had been so fleeting, they could barely describe the other woman who had run out screaming, except that she had blood on her clothes, was screaming, hysterical and distraught.
“Is she alright, the poor thing?” Em had asked.
“She’s dead,” the police officer had replied in disbelief.
Jay had gasped as if punched, Em had given a broken off scream and clapped her hand to her mouth.
“I didn’t realise she was hurt!” Jay exclaimed, horrified that she’d not noticed that the screaming woman in the street was injured.
“She had her throat cut!” the police woman was almost angry, and then of course it transpired that she thought they had meant the woman in the garden.
It seemed that the woman in the street had disappeared and now, after a long and distressing day, Em and Jay were with Gem. They talked more about the mystery of the missing woman, the screaming woman, than the mystery of the death of the woman in the garden.
Em and Jay had been questioned more about the woman they claimed to have seen than the victim.
“It was if they thought we had – had done the thing!” Em exclaimed.
“Do you think that woman did it?” Gem asked gently.
“She must have done… there was no-one else… it must have been her…” Em finished her wine and poured another. “Do you want to stay here tonight, Jay? You’re very welcome if you don’t want to be on your own.”
“Thank you, Em, yes… thank you, I would like to… “ and then her phone rang. It was the number had not written down anywhere, the number she had memorised, the number for emergencies only. It rang off. “Excuse me, I need to take this,” she said to the two women and stepped into the hall.
She pressed return call. “Hi, I’m calling about the hamster you have for sale.” There was a click and then a low vice said, “Hello again Jay, just checking you’re safe.”
Jay could hear the murmur of the two women in the front room.
“Yes, Eric, I’m safe,” and unbidden the words formed in her mind ‘safe as far as I know…’