Jay, a woman with a new identity is now living in the seaside village of Oxhope. It hasn’t yet been revealed why she’s there, or what happened in her past that has meant she had to start a new life, but she’s beginning to settle into it. She’s begun to make friends, including two women similar in age to her, called Emma and Gemma. Jay and Em bump into each other and moments later a woman runs screaming from a cottage shouting that someone is hurt. Jay and Em run through to the back garden where another woman lies dead, murdered! A couple of days later, the police visit Jay to take a second statement:
The police came to visit, asking again about the poor murdered woman; her name it seems was Karla but she had always been called Kari. Jay could tell them absolutely nothing more than she had already told them.
“Your house backs onto the rhyne, doesn’t it, have you ever observed Kari in the garden of the cottage?” the woman officer asked wearily, as if bored rather than tired.
Jay repeated that she had only seen Kari at the pub, didn’t know her at all. Had Jay seen anyone else in the garden of the cottage.
“To be honest, I’m not sure which it is, and anyway, I can’t see their back gardens, only the one directly behind me which is a house.” Jay tried to be pleasant but she was beginning to feel as weary of it as the police officer. “Come upstairs and look out of the window and you’ll see what I mean.”
The two women trooped upstairs with her, looked out of her office window, looked out of the spare room window, and then followed her downstairs again. Before they could ask, Jay led them through the dining the utility area and into the garden and they could see the rhyne, and not see the gardens of the cottages because it curved round the side banks and fence of the opposite house.
It hadn’t even dawned on her that the rhyne ran behind the cottages, she told them. They thanked her and as they left they said again they were sorry to have bothered her and sounded as if they meant it.
Going to the pub for lunch was becoming a habit, but Jay was beginning to realise that she was lonely. Being on her own so much wasn’t what she had been used to in her past forgotten life. Except it wasn’t forgotten, it continued to intrude, ordinary non-threatening memories of the before-time resurfaced, her dreams were full of scenes from her childhood, and in particular, when she was at school.
As she left her house and turned into the footpath across the rhyne she almost bumped into Gilly hurrying the other way. She had been silly to imagine Gilly was following her or watching her.
“Can’t stop Jay! Just remembered I’ve left cake in the oven!” and Gilly rushed past her.
Jay stepped out, smiling to herself, smiling at herself. She crossed the rhyne, waved at the mother of the children in the first house and turned into the High Street leading to the pub.
There was a man crouching to tie his lace, and as he stood up she unexpectedly recognised him. Something must have shown in her face because he said ‘hello’, unfriendly but uncertain who she was.
“You were in the band at the music fest!” she exclaimed. “You were great!”
He was one of the band that Kari had been staring at so fixedly.
“Off With Her Head!” he laughed. “Jeez what a name, we think we’re going to change it, not quite us somehow.”
“Well, I thought you were great,” and it seemed he was heading the same way so they walked together as far as the pub, and then he walked on. Whoever had been responsible for Jay’s relocation had chosen well, a friendly village, Oxhope.