A Fateful Night
“Fourteen years ago I was walking up here in the woods with my old dog Toby, God rest his soul,” Mr Johnson began. “It was the most beautiful evening. The sun was glowing softly through the trees and there was a gentle breeze blowing. I would describe it as the perfect evening but it didn’t stay that way and that’s why I remember it so well. It happened all of a sudden. The sky fell dark and a hard rainstorm came out of nowhere. Of course I didn’t have my coat, or an umbrella for that matter so I jogged along the path a little and found some shelter under a great big oak tree. You’ve probably seen that tree as it’s not far from this house.” Mr Johnson stopped for a moment and could see that everyone was wondering which tree he was talking about. He chuckled to himself and then continued.
“Well as I was standing there I saw two people in the distance, coming out of this house. It was a man and a woman, quite tall like and both young and good looking too but they were arguing, quite loudly. In fact loud enough for me to overhear some of it. I remember that she was crying and she was saying “What have we done? Why did we do it? This isn’t right.” The man said back to her “We had to do it. It was the only way that we could save her.” I didn’t know what he meant of course I can only guess what they were talking about. After that they got in the car and drove off. Now it was still raining so hard and looked like it wasn’t going to stop for a while so I decided to take a chance and I ran over to the house and onto the front porch to get out of the rain completely. It really was the most awful night and since I’d already seen them leave I thought, well what’s the harm in just waiting here for a while. I really didn’t know what came over me at that point but after about twenty minutes with the rain still coming down hard I thought I would see if they had left the key under the mat and low and behold they had. So I let myself in to dry off for a bit.”
Mrs Johnson gasped, “Dave, you’ve never told me that before. I can’t believe you.” All of the children giggled and this spurred Mr Johnson on.
“I know, I know, I’m not proud of myself but no real harm was done. I sat in this very kitchen, made myself a cup of tea and looked around a little bit.” Mrs Johnson shook her head. Clearly she was not impressed by this revelation either but Mr Johnson seemed unfased and carried on with his story. “That was when I noticed all of the papers on the kitchen work surface. They were adoption papers.” As he spoke those words he was looking straight at Rose and it almost seemed to her that he was studying her face. She could feel her cheeks flushing and it seemed like he paused for ages.
“I realised at that point, that’s what the couple had been arguing about. He had made her give up the baby and she hadn’t wanted to. He said it was for the best but I’m not sure that it is ever really for the best.” Mr Johnson sighed and took a deep breath. “I wonder what ever came of that young child.” He paused again and looked at all of their faces in turn, then continued. “That’s not all I found though. There was a short story that had been typed out and left on the kitchen table. Some kind of children’s fantasy book all about the woods around here being magical and mystical and another world in another dimension full of magical creatures and crystals. I mean I really don’t know how people make this stuff up!” Mr Johnson laughed again but it seemed a bit forced to Rose. There was something going on here that’s for sure and it seemed that Mr Johnson had at least seen her mum and dad and that they had left some clues behind.
“What did you do with the book that you found Mr Johnson?” asked Rose.
“Oh I left it on the table. After all it wasn’t mine was it. By the time I finished it the rain had passed and I thought I’d better be off before that young couple came back and found me sitting in their kitchen. So I got up and left. It’s a shame what happened to them though as they never came back here after that night.”
“What do you mean?” asked Rose.
“They were killed on the road that night about an hour out of town. I saw it on the news the next day.”
“Oh Dave, that’s terrible. I never knew that. You mean to say for all these years we had been living in a young couples house who died and you didn’t even tell me?” said Mrs Johnson, again looking shocked at her husband’s lack of honesty.
“It never even occurred to me to tell you Jan. After it happened as you know, the house came on the market and we bought it and have owned it ever since.”
“Well that’s hardly a nice story to tell our guests is it? I mean especially the children and poor Rose who’s come here looking for her parents” replied Mrs Johnson. “I’m sorry Rose, I really don’t know what’s got into my husband today.
“Oh I’m sorry if I upset anyone, I just thought you’d like to know about the house and the bit about the magic in the woods and that,” said Mr Johnson sheepishly. Rose just nodded politely and looked at everyone as if to say ‘now what’.
“What happened to all their stuff that was in the house?” asked George.
“Now that’s a good question young man” said Mr Johnson. “It was empty when I came back to view it. I imagine the estate agents forwarded it all on to their family. It’s a shame as I would have liked to have read that story again. It was talking about crystals being hidden somewhere around here. I must admit, I don’t normally believe in those sort of things but it did make me wonder from time to time. Anyway, I think we should probably head off now that the rain has stopped” he said, getting up from his chair and bidding Mrs Johnson to do the same. “Thank you for the lunch and the cup of tea. We hope you enjoy the rest of your stay here.”
“Thank you for coming over and checking on us. We’ll be sure to let you know if there’s anything we need. I’ll see you out” said Alice also standing up and leading them to the door.
“Goodbye everyone,” said Mr Johnson.
“Goodbye” said Mrs Johnson.
Everyone else waved and said goodbye and once they were out of the door the children asked straight away if they could be excused and when Alice said this was okay they ran upstairs to discuss what had just happened. Rose was sure that there was more to Mr Johnson than met the eye.