I saw this prompt yesterday and was drawn to that tiny little dark window in the background. I’m not even sure exactly what it is, but this is the story I instantly saw in my head. I’m not sure it exactly fits the prompt, but I had fun writing it *wink*
They forgot about this place. Huntsford Country House has many little nooks and crannies, a half dozen disused and ignored buildings, but I remember where they all are. I spent most of my childhood running around the estate when my dad was groundskeeper here. I reckon I know the grounds better than I know my new, speciality apartment. Good thing really, if I didn’t I wouldn’t be here today.
Dad taught me lots of things, how to set traps, how to hunt, how to forage and how to load and fire a rifle. Useful skills, not the ones I needed most after the accident, but Dad taught me that one too; how to listen. I spend all my life listening now. I don’t have much choice, living in darkness as I do. Every day is night, a pitch black, moonless, starless night on a back road in the middle of nowhere with only sounds to keep me company.
I listened to it all. The caterers and assorted aides were here early, setting up the marquee opposite the little hayloft I now occupy. I could hear them hammering, cursing, laughing; hear the rustle of fabrics as they laid tables, the clatter of silverware, the clink of champagne flutes, the chink of crockery. I lay here, amongst the dry smells of dust and forgotten hay, and listened to the string quartet tuning up, the DJ chattering to his girlfriend about the set list for the night, and the fluttering, fluting tones of the wedding planner who appeared to be in more of a panic than I imagined Carol, the bride, to be.
I’ll give her that much. She did ask me to be Maid of Honour. I refused of course. Did she really think I would stand there, smiling, in a god-awful outfit I could never see, while she took the last steps from our life into her new one, with him? I know she only asked out of pity, he probably goading her from his guilt. Did they think that would make what they did go away, make things right between us? Did they think I would smile, accept their pathetic attempts to include me in the ‘happiest day of their life’? Did they think I could forget, forgive, move on? Did they think I wouldn’t know they had taken my day, the day I’d booked with Steve, the day down to the hour when I was supposed to have been the bride?
Steve tried; for a few weeks after the accident he really tried to make it ok between us, but I knew he wasn’t going to make it. He couldn’t cope with my new and special status. He couldn’t deal with the idea of being married to me and my newly acquired problem for the rest of his life. I was angry for a while. I think I had a right to be, when he walked in one day and stood for a few minutes in silence. I don’t know if he realised I knew he was there, could feel his silence and know his words before he stammered them out. It wasn’t me, it was him. I shrugged, told him to leave, and quietly cancelled the wedding, the caterers, the church, the guests, but Carol and John thought I wouldn’t notice; or simply hoped?
Not like I could see the date, not after the accident. Carol’s hen night. We were slaughtered, no two ways about it. Pouring out of the nightclub in the middle of a snowstorm with not a cab in sight, we were stranded at four in the morning. Carol called John; his massive 4×4 with snow chains would get us through. And he came, but we were too drunk to notice how drunk he was – a last night of fun with his pals – or that he hadn’t actually put the snow chains on. I woke up a week later. John lost control, hit a tree. I was thrown through the window and hit a rock under the snow head on. The police found that John hadn’t got round to fixing the seat-belt where I’d been. He knew, like he’d known about the snow chains, but things like that don’t happen to people like him, like Carol, like me, right?
I was too adrift to really listen when the doctor told me something had been knocked loose in my brain. The impact, caused by John’s negligence, left me permanently blind. He got a couple of points on his license and a suspended sentence. Be a good boy, don’t do it again, and let’s all move on. And they did, at least they seemed to. Their wedding replaced mine, which gave Carol, the woman who’d been my best friend since nursery school, lots of excuses as to why she couldn’t come see me very often. She still hasn’t been to my new place, all tricked out with bells and whistles – literally – to help me around my new world of constant night. Now she won’t get the chance.
I can hear them now, trooping up the drive. They’re all crunching to a halt on the gravel outside the marquee for photos. They practised yesterday and I was able to hear where they all stood. I can hear her talking to him and that’s all I need to line up my shot, thanks to Dad’s expert tuition all those years ago. If I’m fast, I can get them both before anyone realises what’s going on, but she’s first. Why? He may have been the idiot who drove the car, but she’s the one who decided marrying him was more important than supporting her best friend of 30 years. I’m still a maid who believes in honour.