3. Your Funeral Flowers

The next few days turned into weeks. Colby Redwood was working on researching a strange case. The 'Arima Miller' case, so it was called. He'd picked up the court papers and his boss had told him to find some related information. He was probably looking for something scandalous but he hadn't found whatever it was yet. That was why he spent most of his time, these days, in the town library using the Internet…Yesterday, however he'd hit something. Apparently Mr Miller had relatives in the banking industry, rich relatives too. He'd decided it could have been related to his money-laundering allegations.

He was half way though describing just how Mr Miller could have committed extreme libel as well as his first charge when the phone rang. He half-heartedly picked it and hoped it wasn't any more jobs.

'Oi Colby!'

Redwood was surprised to hear that voice. He'd been expecting a work call. He hadn't had a personal call for a long time. 'Farista!' he said in loud surprise. Other people had turned to look, he was sure he hadn't been that loud. She didn't say anything. Redwood said 'are you ok? Rather…you didn't burn my house down did you?'

'No' she replied indignantly 'Why did you think I'd burn this place down. I'm not completely void of carefulness. I'm just like you, mister! I'm actually calling to ask if it's ok if I go down to the town and buy some stuff.' Her voice sounded a lot rougher and unintelligible on the phone. He had trouble understanding and so he had to pay complete attention to the phone call and not write at the same time.

Yeah, that's the way to do it. Give the girl a great vouch of faith. You two are never going to be able to get along with her if you act like this.

Redwood was considering what nice thing he could say to make up for his negative words when she spoke again.

'Oiii, I'm going to run up your phone-bill and it'll all be your fault… Can I go or not?'

'Why? Don't we have food?' Redwood inquired

'Enough to live, if that's what you mean'

Redwood felt strangely embarrassed at this. He'd never thought himself particularly 'stingy' before.

'Um, sure you can go…my money is…'

'Don't worry Colby! I already found it! It saves us talking time!'

It was there, that the conversation ended. Redwood, thought for a moment, then promptly went back to his article.

--

Farista walked into the town. Redwoods home was on a slope, only a slight slope. Redwood had commented it that it stayed a lot dryer than the town, which was situated at the bottom and off of the slope. It was colder higher up. Redwoods house to the town was a couple of miles on foot. It was quite densely wooded half way down and that was exactly why Redwood had never bothered to buy himself a car.

When she reached the very bottom of the slope she realised something and turned around to face the still snowy trees. She'd made her way down, she'd never done it before but somehow she'd not gone wrong. So she walked into an appealing looking shop with a certain feeling of lightness. The town wasn't busy; it didn't look like a city. It was like a pretty modern village. Just about every house would have the Internet and many phones but the houses still had an old feel that haven't worn over the years.

'I'll buy something good for dinner and if I cook it later, I won't burn the house to the ground, Mr Redwood…after all I made lunch already'

--

Robby Reid clicked off his PC.

'Right…' he said stretching 'I'm finished…'

Carolin didn't look up. She continued to write. 'Enjoy your lunch break, sir'

Robby headed towards the door then turned around again and walked to his secretary's desk. She had, evidently, not noticed him. 'Uh, Carolin…'

She paused and looked up carefully covering the paper. 'Yes sir?'

He overlooked this 'You can break too, you know…'

'Oh! I'm not working' she said suddenly 'you could say…Personal project'

Robby had never been able to understand what went though women's minds and he's found leave-it-alone a good avoidance. 'Uh right…' he said stupidly and without any futher ado he left.

--

'Can I help you ms?'

Farista jumped 'huh?' She looked up to see a kindly looking man with greying hair.

'You've spent an awful lot of time staring at those, can I help with anything?'

'I'm busy…' she said slowly

'With what?' he asked puzzled

'Well, Isn't it obvious? I'm trying to remember what the wine bottles look like!'

'Why?' he asked bemused

'Well…I don't want to buy the wrong type, do I…?' Farista asked taken aback 'I need to make sure these are his kind of drink'

The grey haired man sighed. He had already supposed she wasn't buying for herself. He had worked as a counsellor just under 5 years ago. He'd known some kid who brought for his father. There was something about him, a certain fear that wasn't masked by his nonchalant manner or his gruff talk. A fear he didn't show to his drunken father, especially when he'd gotten violent. However, the father had ended up in jail and the child had been sent off to a distant relative. Sad, really… He sensed something similar now. A fear…but it was very cleverly masked, almost as if… she didn't know of its existence.

Farista looked up at the man, whose eyes seemed to have glazed over. 'Oi, you okay?'…

After explaining in as much detail as she could about what she wanted…she got it. Two bottles, but only two, she didn't want a drunk on her hands.

--

Robby sat down at an outside seat in café still munching his bacon Panini. The sun was coming out. There was little snow left…He supposed that it was dry up where Redwood lived though…He'd meant to ring but hadn't got round to it.

'Oii, mister, I can sit here, right?'

Robby noticed his Panini was still on the table in front of him…well, why wouldn't it be? He then blinked up at the speaker, acknowledged all he could and responded mildly 'of course'

Farista sat down and unpacked a rather-burnt cheese sandwich from her bag. She'd made it that morning. Farista looked at the man in front of her. She'd thought he looked pleasant enough from a distance but now…

Robby stared at Farista as though she was a beautifully polished hat-stand and he was a collector…of hat-stands. Farista took his staring as a challenge. She stared right back, glaring him right in the eyes.

'Who are you?' she asked, speaking a clearly as should could with a mouth of cheddar.

Robby was about to introduce himself…

'I mean…I'm new round here so I think I aught to know people and you looked the most interesting…'

Robby felt unsure of the meaning of 'interesting' in this sense but said 'My names Robert Reid. Who're you?'

'Farista!' she announced

'That's an unusual name… 'That's a very unusual name. I feel if I heard it I should remember it…but I don't…'

Farista stared in bewildered puzzlement. 'Ah… It's easy to remember, see… Fa – Ri – Sta! Farista!'

'It's not that… ('Yes, it is' Farista felt ready to argue') It's just I've got some strange feeling that I've met you before. But. Maybe. It was nothing' Robby said inattentively.

OK. What was he getting at? 'Well, I can't remember seeing you.' She said matter-of-fact.

'Just because I've seen you…doesn't mean that you've seen me'

Farista shuddered. That statement had sounded strangely frightening and she wished that he'd just snap back to reality.

--

A quarter of an hour later Robby returned to his office. He'd eaten rather a lot. He'd kept ordering more just so he could watch the strange girl. He'd seen her somewhere. Really, It was careless of him to have forgotten the name but all the same…

Suddenly he heard a sniff from the other side of the room. He realised that Carolin was still there. She was staring directly at the computer screen, however her head was in the way, so he couldn't see what programs she was running.

Robby had a strange feeling that she didn't know he was here. 'Hey' he waved. She clicked away the window and her head snapped around, abruptly knocking some paper to the floor. It must have taken about 5 seconds. Her expression looked odd. She looked different than normal, more flustered. Her blue eyes were fixed on his, not in a glare but wide-eyed and searching. He saw it again. The same thing he'd seen in Farista. He said to himself: 'Where have I seen this before?'

He felt uncomfortable. 'Um…sorry, I didn't think I was interrupting anything. I'll come back later if…'

What was it he'd seen? What was it? Of course he'd seen Carolin before but not like this. Something told him he'd seen this side her before. It was like a dream, you understand everything for a moment and then when you blink you're eyes it's gone.

And it was only a moment. When he looked again she'd gone back to her standard icy expression. She began to pick up her dropped papers; he began to wonder if he'd seen it. But he had. He knew he had.

She left abruptly saying she'd be at her flat if he needed anything. And when she left he picked up a piece of paper that she had evidently missed picking up. He didn't mean to pry but the italics were quite large. It was a website print-off entitled

'Your funeral flowers have been sent…'

'Funeral flowers, why would Carolin be sending funeral flowers? If it was as important as a funeral that she'd get sad over why not deliver in person?... Robby dismissed the thoughts from his mind. It didn't matter, and as much as it didn't matter, it wasn't his business. He didn't read the rest; instead he placed it upside down on her desk.

As he went over to make his own coffee it didn't occur to him that she normally made it.

--

Just a few streets away, Carolin hadn't moved from the sofa. With bloodshot eyes she stared at the swinging wardrobe door, creaking on its hinges. If her blue eyes were really seeing it she might have found it untidy and shut it. Her fists were clenched. Every few minutes she'd make a movement as if to pick up the phone. Stop. Sometimes she'd get the first four digits typed. But no further. The dead dial tone pounded in her ears. She couldn't really hear it. Instead a waterfall of memories confused her until she wished she could just cry herself to sleep. She wished she could make that call. Cry. Wallow for all she was worth in arrogant self-pity. Not caring whether anybody cared or not. But she wasn't like that. It wasn't like that. Things weren't that easy to solve. Things weren't ever this easy. And when they were, in the case of certain events, they weren't really over.

Somebody was just thinking 'It's over, It's over. Once gone, it won't come back. Can't come back'

All the while knowing, in some way, however small that …they were wrong

--