I stood there stunned, this was something I did not want to see. I felt the wrongness on a deep and spiritual level. Why did I have to be here standing watch, waiting for the inevitable. I knew that at any moment Claudia was going to come through the door, I would be powerless to stop her.
Claudia was a vision to me, she always had been. I remember the first time I saw her, drinking a hot chocolate outside a café. I was walking past and stumbled. Holding the steaming mug in two hands she took a sip. Her dark eyes looking into mine, the faintest smile playing across her lips as she watched. I righted myself looked at her and found myself laughing out loud. I had asked to join her at the table and the rest was history.
Claudia has a way of affecting my equilibrium, whenever she is around me I think up is down and left is right. Truly I have never met anyone who inspires me and understands me so well. From that first meeting I found Claudia to be generous, warm and a delight to be around. Love grew quickly in the fertile ground of our new relationship.
We had bought a house together, a little rough around the edges but it had character. Claudia swore blind it was haunted but I had just laughed. Work had been progressing nicely and now we had finished the guest bedroom. Our first visitor was Claudia's elder uncle visiting for a family get together. Claudia was excited about our guest and had been driving me crazy about keeping tidy.
Having to work late this evening Claudia had instructed me to get home early to check on Arthur. I had stopped off to get some wine for dinner. I wanted to make a good impression as it was important to Claudia. I called her from the store to see if she wanted anything else. I knew from the sound of her voice she was having one of those days. I decided to pick up a little treat to put a smile on her face. Roaming up and down the aisles I finally found her favourite hot chocolate. We enjoyed sitting out on the patio, early evening watching the sun go down whilst sipping at our drinks. To me the hot chocolate is a reminder of our meeting but for her it is a favourite drink.
I headed home to start dinner. It had been just my luck to get a flat tyre. I am not the most practical of men and it took me a while to wrestle the new wheel in place. I was sweating heavily and cursing my luck as I finally parked at home. I had grabbed the bags and got to the front door. I was disturbed as I noticed the door was ajar. I pushed it open slowly, something did not feel right. If there was a spirit residing in the house it would have been screaming do not go in. I should have listened.
I had moved through the house towards the kitchen, I quietly called out Arthur’s name to see if he was okay. Now standing here feeling the wrongness but paralysed with indecision I looked down at the body face down on the floor. I heard Claudia enter the house and call out my name. I wanted to shield her from this but was too weak. The door opened and she saw the body. Rushing past me to kneel on the floor. She called out “Arthur” over and over again. I felt her grief, a kick in my my guts that nearly doubled me over.
Claudia started to roll the body over, tears were streaming down her face. The head turned last of all. As I looked into my unblinking eyes, Arthur finally came into the kitchen....