Patsy knew taking Terry’s ring was a bad idea, but she couldn’t help herself. It called to her, it … it wanted her to take it, didn’t it? She couldn’t shake the feeling of dread in her bones. What if her mother gave it to her, or if it was a family heirloom? Patsy’s heart hammered in fear, but she was determined to keep it.
‘It’s mine now and NO-ONE can take it away. I’ll just say she gave it to me.’ Patsy spoke directly to the ring, her voice quivering in fear as she walked to work. She kept looking behind her, a man in a blue coat with his head down was following her. She was convinced of it. Fear trickled through her veins, pulling any happiness she had along with it. She walked faster, so did he. She turned right, so did he. By the time she saw the door of Pets N More, she was sprinting.
Hitting the door with a flat hand, it shook but held as she turned the knob and fled past a gaping Andy into the stock room and locked the door. A second later she heard the bell.
‘May I help you Sir?’ Andy’s voice.
‘Yes please. I ordered a grey no-pull dog harness.’
“That’s me.’ More chitchat followed and the till pinged.
‘Is the young lady alright? She was belting down the street like the devil was behind her…’ Jeff stopped as Andy flicked his eyes toward the ceiling.
Leaning in Andy explained about her friend Terry who had died and how she had been a little “off” since then. Patsy still hiding, felt her anger flare but was still too scared to come out. Eventually he left and Patsy called out, ‘Is he gone?’
‘What’s up with you Patsy?’ Andy’s blue eyes studied her, looking concerned.
‘I thought he was following me.’ Patsy glanced at the door in case Jeff was skulking outside, but of course he wasn’t. ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me,’ she said more to herself, wiggling the ring around her finger. ‘I am just so scared lately. Its like everything is out to get me.’ Andy stared at her.
‘Ive just lost Terry and don’t want to lose you too, snap out of it.’ His voice sounded harsh and pulled Patsy out of her reverie.
‘Let’s get to it, there’s lots to do today.’ Patsy tried her best to get going but couldn’t shake the feeling that something terrible was going to happen.
Saturday afternoon finally dragged itself into her life and she couldn’t wait to lock up and go home where her windows were locked and the curtains drawn, she was certain no-one could see in. She felt safe there. Waiting in line for the bus was a nightmare, Patsy jumped at every sound. When a kindly old man, put his hand on her shoulder to reassure her, she bolted.
‘Hey, Miss…” but she was already around the corner, heading towards the bridge. She would damm well have to walk now. Patsy pulled up her collar and headed home, looking determined but trembling inside. It was easier for someone to attack her on the bridge than the bus but she just COULD’NT go back and face the stares. Visibly shaking she walked along fiddling with the ring on her finger hoping it would distract her, it wouldn’t.
The wind was cold. It pulled at her coat and slapped her face until her cheeks stung. Almost halfway across she froze. There was a man hiding behind the pillar, barely 6 feet from her. She could see the ends of his coat slipping out now and then but not his face. Stepping quietly to the side, she huddled against the railing.
What do I do?
Terrified to go on, she knew she couldn’t go back, he would catch her. Fear swept over her so crushingly that she forgot the cold. It turned her blood to ice and shook her physically. Trying to look invisible, she huddled down getting smaller and smaller, convinced he couldn’t see her if she was. Looking left she realised that there was a bar along the outside of the railing, about a foot lower than the road. She could shimmy along that and get past him.
Hysteria and fear numbed her mind, her reasoning. Slowly she slipped a leg, an arm, another leg, then the rest of her through onto the railing. She was on her knees, trying to melt into the red metal. Rivets pressed into her knees and hands but she didn’t feel them.
One knee, one hand moved. Then the other, then the other. Achingly slowly she made her way past the man. He faced towards the traffic, had his hands on his bent knees, he was waiting. She couldn’t even breathe she was so scared. Keep going, keep going, sang in her head. A mantra to get her to move.
Just as she passed him he jumped and shouted, ‘Got you!’ Through waves of terror she fought her way to her feet and turned to face him. The man was hugging a little boy who had been walking behind her, aways back. Patsy was shaking so badly that her feet slipped back and she couldn’t catch herself. Terror closed her throat and stopped her from screaming.
Only the wind heard and saw her fall. The water was so cold she couldn’t catch her breath. Her coat pulled her under and terror held her there until everything went black.
They found her body quickly considering it was in the bushes next to the river. An old lady on a riverboat spotted her and called the police. Using her ladder she went across to the bank to see if there was any hope. But it was way too late. Cassiopeia brushed Patsy’s hair off her eyes feeling helpless. She held her hand as tears slipped down her cold cheeks for this lovely girl she didn’t know.
She felt the ring before she saw it. Looking around there was no-one. Cassi easily slipped it off Patsy’s finger and onto hers, turning the red stone to the top.