There was a healing power in this place. Nora could feel it in the sun that was shining on her face and feel it under her feet where the grass was tickling the bare skin. Gone was the concrete, the stale air of the city. There were no ambulance sirens going off every few minutes, no honking from enraged drivers.
Here there was silence, broken only by the chirp of a bird or the call of a cricket. Here, she could think, could take breath of air and not feel like she was gagging on smog. A quiet call from the small animal twisting around her ankles had a grin crossing her lips before she bent down and picked up the cat. Nuzzling the top of the cats head she placed a kiss on top of the tiny pink nose before cradling it in her arms.
"You're loving this, aren't you Penny?" she asked, not caring that she was using the sing-song voice that most people used on their kids. There was no one around for miles, no one that would judge her for treating her cat like she was her child. "No dogs chasing you, no limited space..." Nora trailed off, the smile dropping off her lips as she recalled the dingy room she lived in.
She would be eternally grateful to her cousin for letting her house-sit while he was traveling the world making a TV documentary. His house was enormous and the land it sat on was seemingly endless. The pantry was stocked, and every Tuesday, a cleaning lady would show up to tidy up and cook her meals. She'd told Todd that she didn't need the meals, that she was perfectly able to cook for herself, but he'd simply talked over her and she'd agreed to just to end the conversation.
Truth be told, she wasn't sure she ever wanted to leave this place. She had room to move and breath, and she didn't have to worry about talking to loud or getting overheard by the neighbors. She didn't have to face the memories of a mistake she'd just ended.
Shaking her head to shove the thoughts out of her head, Nora turned to head into the house, the sun now fully set and the dying light held just enough illumination so she could see the stone pathway that led to the side door. Setting Penny down once she was inside, she knelt down to slide off the harness and leash she'd used to keep her pet from running off. Todd had a guard dog for the herd of sheep that he let roam the property, and the dog, while gentle and sweet, was larger than the dogs Penny was used to and had high-tailed it out of sight as soon as the dog had walked up.
Laughing to herself when Penny made a beeline to her water bowl, Nora herself reached into the fridge and grabbed the jug of ice water with lemon and orange slices. Pouring herself a tall glass of water, Nora leaned against the kitchen counter and sipped at the refreshing drink while she watched the last rays of sun disappear under the horizon.
Deciding against heating up the casserole that the cleaning lady had left, Nora grabbed her phone from where it lay charging and headed upstairs to the claw foot bathtub that she'd been eyeing since she got here two days ago. She'd showered the other day, enjoying the rain-like shower head, using it to ease the sore muscles she'd gained from working so much overtime at work. Hearing the jingle of the little bell that was attached to Penny's collar, she grinned to herself and waited for her cat to catch up.
Ever since she'd picked up Penny from the side of the road as a tiny, terrified and sick kitten, she and the cat had been almost inseparable, being separated only she went to work. Her now-ex boyfriend had hated the fact that Penny was always underfoot and had kicked her away several times until Nora had stepped in.
It was one of the many things that had led to her saying good-bye to the man she'd loved for three years.
But that was something she didn't want to think about, probably ever again, and Nora turned on the faucet in the tub, letting the white noise of the rushing water clear her mind from her past.
Grabbing the lavender bath-salts she'd bought on the way, she tossed some in and took a deep breath as the lavender started to seep into the air. Once the tub was full enough, she stripped, uncaring of the pile her clothes fell in, and eased her still tired body into the water, sighing as the warmth eased a knot she hadn't known she had.
Tonight, she was going to enjoy the tub and hot water for as long as she could.