There were many small bridges spanning the White River but none so secluded as the one that led to Apple Tree Grove. It was at the end of Cherry Blossom Avenue long Riverside Close behind a set of black wrought iron gates.
Apple Tree Grove nestled in the Shadow of an old stone viaduct spanning White River Valley. It was a quiet little cul-de-sac, accessible only by its residents with a specific key code. There was a smaller gate to the side through which deliveries could be made but if any of the residents had a larger delivery such as a piece of furniture then that resident would need to be present to oversee said delivery; but this was a rare occasion for the time being.
The gates were set at the edge of a bridge, under which ran a fast flowing narrow river, known locally as the White River Rapids. So called as the over spill from the local clay works ran into the river turning it a milky white colour. Along the banks of the river grew blackberry bushes and a row of apple trees that gave Apple Tree Grove its name.
The Grove (as it was more commonly known) consisted of five good-sized detached stone cottages with garages attached. Behind each cottage was a large, reasonably, in most cases, well-kept garden, overlooked by a balcony off the main bedroom. The last house in the grove was set apart from the others with a loggia running around the whole of the outside; in its own large grounds it almost, but not quite, dwarfed the other houses of Apple Tree Grove.
These cottages hadn’t started out so luxurious of course. They had been built in the early 1800’s for the railwaymen and their families due their closeness to the railway viaduct when it had been in its infancy, and they had been considerably smaller as had the viaduct. The original towers that had supported the wooden struts, along which the track had run were still standing, but the timber had long ago rotted, and the more recent, stone arches now towered over them.
In the early sixties when the railways had been privatised, many lines had been closed down; steam became a part of history as diesel engines took over and, although trains still ran across the viaduct above them, the cottages had been sold on to an enterprising developer who had expanded and modernised them to the structures that snuggled in the Grove today. He had also made them exclusive and with each cottage sold came a part of the neighbouring woodland that the residents had full use of but it, and it’s wildlife, was pretty much left to its own devices.
It all seemed idyllic and anyone living on the other side of the gates to Apple Tree Grove may have been envious but all was not as it appeared as the people living behind the gates each had their own personal troubles that living in a beautiful environment could not take away.
The residents kept mostly to themselves; they all had busy lives and not much time to socialise with their neighbours. The most that could be said was that they were on nodding terms but for the most part they tended to go about their own business, living their own lives and leaving their neighbours to live theirs.
Future events were about to change all that, however and it began, sadly, with the untimely death of a young man …