For a split second I wondered why a stranger sitting on my garden bench in my garden was telling me to be quiet. Fortunately my brain rushed ahead of my mouth and I realised that perhaps this stranger was warning me that I might be in danger.
He nodded almost imperceptibly as if he had heard my rapid thought process. It was at that moment another realisation also landed in my mind. He wasn’t looking directly at me. He was looking over my shoulder. Now I wasn’t sure if he was warning me because he’d seen something or someone over my shoulder, or if he was warning someone behind me to be quiet.
My fight flight response kicked in again and I spun round ready to take on whoever might be there. I wondered if the stranger in the garden had created the noise moments ago to distract my attention whilst an accomplice cleaned the house out of anything of value.
I was sure my suspicions were confirmed when I thought I saw a shadow disappearing through the door which connected the kitchen to the living room.
I gave chase.
Nothing in the kitchen had been touched. ‘He could have done the washing up on his way through,’ I muttered jokingly to try to lighten my anxiety.
In the living room everything was exactly as I had left it. My mug of now cold tea was sitting on the coffee table beside the plate with a couple of hobnobs. ‘At least he didn’t steal those.’ Another attempt at lightening the stress.
Rushing into the hallway I noticed my mobile was still where I had left It and the mug of loose change on the desk was also untouched.
Sticking my head into the office, which doubled as an infrequent guest room, I could see the laptop was still there, and as far as I could tell nothing was amiss in this room either.
Rushing on to the bedroom I was thankful my home was just a small one and that this would be the last room I needed to check.
I rounded the door breathing heavily. The cats, who had now forgotten what had sent them fleeing for sanctuary in the first place, were all cosily sitting on the bed cleaning themselves and each other. They gave me a cursory glance and continued with their ablutions. It was nowhere near dinner time so why should they worry?
Turning to leave the bedroom I wondered what was going on. I hoped the stranger in the garden might be able to shed some light on the afternoon’s excitement and headed back down the hallway.
As I passed the bathroom I was suddenly aware of my stupidity; I hadn’t checked in there, and the door was closed. Unless I had guests I rarely closed the bathroom door. I felt my heart speed up as I threw the it open only to see my confused face looking back at me. It too was empty: the bathroom that is, not my face.
“Sod this!” I exclaimed marching back through the flat. “Someone’s got some explaining to do.”
Back in the garden I was once again alone. “Where the?… what the…?” I asked aloud, using a couple of my favourite phrases.
The stranger had gone leaving no trace of his ever being there. It was at this point, and not for the first or last time, that I wondered if I was losing my marbles.
I went up to the now empty bench intending to sit and think a moment to try and process the goings on of the last few minutes. As I sat I spotted something written in the dust on the side of the bench where the stranger had been sitting. It simply said, “I’ll be back.”
“Very bloody Schwarzenegger,” I grumped as I rubbed the words out.