The sky changed had changed its colour. It had gone from morning misty grey to bright blue, infused with a few gleaming sun beams.
It almost hurt her eyes and she covered them with her hands, which hardly showed any sign of the past events.
Emma tried to pull down the small dirty blind at her window, first gently then more vigorously, but it was stuck halfway. “Come on now, you stupid shit! Come on!”she hissed. Raw tension rose up from her tight stomach and she forced herself to calm down.
Emma threw a swift glance around the bus. There were only a few people scattered in the seats and they didn’t seem to take notice of her at all. She sat up straight.
She could not allow the bare nerves take the best of her and with pulling the small suitcase next to her, she leaned back again in the soft velvet seat. The half pulled blind kept most of the light out and she closed her eyes.
Emma had fallen into a restless snooze and when she opened her eyes again and when she took a brief look out of the window, she realised she had no idea where she was. She turned and noticed that except one older man in the back, the bus was empty. The heavy vehicle had stopped and the driver, who looked a bit like Tom Selleck, turned to her. “Girl, are you getting off? Thats it!” he grunted in a deep voice. There goes the Tom Selleck charm, Emma thought. “That’s the end of the journey. Come on now, get off!”
She felt he was eager to get her off the bus so he could get home.
She touched the suitcase and felt the smooth leather. Phew. One last glance outside.
There was nothing except fields, a few scattered cottages and a dusty country road in front of her. Perfect. She jumped up in her seat. “Yes!” she shouted out a bit too loud for her taste. “This is exactly where I will get off!”
She squeezed herself along the seats towards the exit and with a firm:”Thanks!” she got off the bus.
Her feet hardly touched the sandy ground, when the glass doors closed with the familiar hissing sound and the vehicle took off. Emma almost stumbled and she swore a few unpleasant words after it.
The dust still swirled up from the road when she clutched the handle of her suitcase tightly. She squinted her eyes to have a good look around. This part of the country seemed quite remote, but she felt that this was exactly what she needed right now. So she took her old-fashioned piece of luggage and started walking.
The air was breezy and she picked up the pace. For quite a while all she passed were fields, bushes and plenty of nothing and she began questioning if it has been such a good idea to have gotten off the bus here. Further she started to get tired and the situation grew frustrating.
Suddenly, behind another of these countless bends, she spotted something in the distance which looked like a wooden cottage. Even from here, it didn’t seem in the best condition. It looked crumbly and quite deserted but Emma didn’t care. She was still cold and her feet ached. She sped up even more, crossing over a muddy field to get a closer look at that house. More a shack, she thought when she had finally reached it. Emma was unsure about it, it appeared uninviting.
The house was scanty and seemed uninhabited for quite a while. The banister of the small front porch was broken in some places and moss covered the wooden brittle entrance door. Emma’s stomach tied in knots, when she turned the round door knob and the door opened with a loud squeak, she remembered from old Hitchcock movies.
When she took the first steps inside the house, she was pleasantly surprised. The interior didn’t seem as desolate as the outside and she was delighted. Emma put the suitcase down and had a look around. In front of her was a dirty small room, with a wonky table with four chairs and a cooker, which she was not sure if it would even work. Apparently the kitchen.
On the other side of the room, a few steps which looked more like a stepladder, which led under the roof where a big metal bed with a few blankets and cushions on top, was placed.
In the corner, a narrow wooden wardrobe with two doors. When Emma had a closer look she spotted a small door, hidden next to the wardrobe and with a racing heart, she pressed down the worn out door handle. What she saw in there, sent a cold shiver down her spine.
It was dark inside and only a gap in the wall sent a few light rays into the space, lighting up dust swirls dancing in the heavy air. In the middle was a huge white, old fashioned bathtub with metal lion feet. A bath tub in an obviously old fashioned bathroom is nothing unusual, but this one was. It was covered in dirt and mud chunks were splattered around the side.
Emma couldn’t explain it, but there was something strange about this tub. A feel, an aura which made Emma shiver to her bones. As if a dark story like a thick heavy blanket covered this space and a strong smell filled the bizarre atmosphere in the room. When she slowly approached the tub, she could not believe her eyes. In horror she stared into it.
The tub was half filled with a light red liquid. What was that? She felt her stomach churning and she threw her hands to the mouth. Rapidly she started walking backwards out of the bathroom and slammed the door shut. A few steps more and she let herself sink on the bed behind her. The springs in it dropped down with a loud creak and she hid her face in her hands. “What the hell?” Louder. “Jesus Christ!” Emma started hitting her palms to her forehead. “No tears now, no tears!” she scolded herself. “You brought yourself into that situation, deal with it!” Her voice became stern. Still her head in her hands, she sat on the bed for a while. “Jesus Christ, what did I do!”
It took another moment, then she sat up straight and got herself together:“I will deal with this, you see! I will!”
She got up and made her way down the ladder. Reached downstairs, she closed the front door, which stood still wide open and picked up her suitcase. Then she returned to the loft and then placed the piece of luggage very careful on the bed. Gently, almost tenderly, she caressed the smooth leather. For a second, her thoughts wandered back to that strange bathtub, but then she forced her attention back to the luggage. Emma placed her hand softly on the suitcase and paused for a moment. Snap and another snap and she had opened the two golden locks in the front of the case. Almost in slow motion, she lifted the top cover.
The blood was almost dried into the white towel in the silky inside of the suitcase.
Gradually she started to unfold one edge after the other and there it was. The heart.
‘A mothers heart never dies’, she once read somewhere. ‘It has to be cherished’. She placed her hands on it. It was still warm.
All of a sudden Emma felt something deep inside her changing. A persona she did not know before. A grin crept upon her face.
Then she took off her coat, she still wore and placed the heart carefully on her hands . It felt so solid and deep satisfaction came over her.
One diligent step after the other, she approached the bathroom door. She took a deep breath, kicked it open with her foot and stopped for a moment in front of the dirty tub. All the fibres of her body tingled and she couldn’t explain the feeling arising in her. The feeling of finally having arrived. No fright, no horror anymore, just home. With this comforting feeling locked in her heart, she placed the heart delicately in the liquid. It was almost beautiful, as it was lying there, causing spirals in the water of the tub.
“I hate you Mother!” Inside Emma, her soul seemed to crack. “I hate you, I hate you so much, you can’t even imagine!” she began shouting. “You are my misery, my hell and this is where you belong!” The yelling caused huge relief in Emma. “A mothers heart should be looked after, and thats what I am going to do! You bitch, you empress of the underworld! I detest you!” Her voice had reached a high pitch and she started spitting on the red warm lump in the tub.
After her outburst, Emma left the the dark room and went downstairs to the kitchen. She took a cloth, she spotted in the sink and started wiping the table. She was pleasantly surprised, when she found out that the kitchen had everything she needed, from pots to pans to cutlery. And the top of the delight was the fizzling sound the cooker made, when she turned it on. It worked. Then she started setting the table and even put a candle in the middle. She filled a pot with water, put it on the cooker and waited.