Episode 1 by Anne Lange
Clutching the brown paper bag in her right arm, Sarah Prescott settled her purse securely on her shoulder, switched the bag to that arm, and dug into her coat pocket for her keys. A gust of wind slammed into her from behind, shoving her forward a step and slipping under her coat, and even her sweater, to send a chill up her spine. She hated fall. She hated winter more, but she really hated the fall because that meant winter was just around the corner.
Where the hell were her keys? She pulled out a crumpled tissue and pushed aside some coins. Damn, it was cold. Another reason to hate the fall. That and the leaves. Leaves fucking everywhere in this town. And they seemed to converge on her property.
She paused, jerked her head up, and spun around. “Who’s there?”
She gazed around the yard, narrowing her eyes to see past the shadows. Must have been the wind. Or an asshole kid playing a trick on her. Yup. Let’s annoy the hell out of the new person in town. It’s not like the little devils didn’t have anything better to do—like homework maybe.
She could just kick the door open. Wouldn’t be the first time she’d been locked out since moving in. Seemed to happen at least a couple of times a week. A trip to the hardware store just moved to the top of her to-do list.
Sarah lowered the bag of groceries to the porch deck so she could begin the arduous task of searching through her purse.
“I don’t know who the hell you are,” she said, her voice rising and her tone angry, “but you can stop right now. I’ve had a long day. I’m hungry. And I am so not amused.”
Finally! She wrapped her fingers around her keys, yanking them from her purse. She leaned down to pick up the bag. But just as she reached for it, the damn thing tipped over, spilling some of the contents. Oranges and tomatoes rolled free, her mail scattered, and her carton of juice burst open. The liquid flowed neatly around her feet.
She looked to the heavens, actually the roof over her porch, and closed her eyes. Why now? Why me? Could I please just wake up and start this day over?
Three questions she continually asked herself, and still no answers magically appeared. But they certainly seemed to apply to every aspect of her life these days.
After Brant died, she’d spent months hiding in her apartment. Then she’d discovered through her lawyer, she had access to a house which had been in her family for generations. Confirming nobody lived in it, and in fact had sat empty for the last five years, she’d left her job, her so-called friends, and the big city far behind. Starting over in a new place, in a small town where nobody knew her or her past, had seemed like just the thing she needed to get her life back on track. Alone.
Her one mistake was making the transition during the worst time of year. The only job she could find was at a local grocery store. Stocking shelves, cleaning up spills and cashier. A far cry from teaching, but the mindless work allowed her to stay numb.
Sarah knelt, avoiding the spreading puddle of cranberry juice that looked oddly like blood in the waning light, and gathered the runaway fruit. Another gust of wind picked up two envelopes and carried them away. Probably bills—she should let the breeze have them.
Sighing, she chased them down, snagging them from where they’d been trapped in a dead lilac bush. She ripped them from the branches and turned back to the house.
And stopped cold.
She didn’t remember unlocking the door. She frowned because now it stood wide open, a warm glow from inside beckoning her to enter.
“Welcome home, Sarah.”