Heather Jenkins stepped out of the taxi and shivered in the frozen air. The town hadn't changed at all; it still looked like a photo on a Christmas card. One main road piled with snow running straight as a ruler through the middle with tiny, almost dilapidated houses running along either side. Everything looked white and crisp, it almost seemed pure. Heather sighed; she knew the truth behind this tiny town. Liars and evil tongues everywhere. She picked up her bag and carefully picked her way across the icy pavement towards her mother's house. It hadn't changed at all and that was strangely comforting.
The front door opened and there she was. Still tall and plump with red hair, tiny ringlets framing her face and the same flowery apron tied around her ample hips.
"Hello darling" she said. Heather stopped at the front door and managed a small smile.
"Hello mother. How are you?" Mrs Jenkins smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes.
"I'm fine, darling. I didn't think you'd be home for a while yet." Heather followed her into the house and shivered as the heat hit her, making the outside even colder.
"My therapist thought it would give me some closure before I go to America. I've been offered a job at one of the big photography firms and I thought a complete change would be better" explained Heather. They went upstairs and Heather took her things into her old room. It was all the same. Yellow walls and pastel green woodwork, white furniture and an off white carpet. Heather smiled, she remembered being happy here. But that was before the Trouble.
Heather turned to her mother, shrugging out of her coat.
"How is he?" Mrs Jenkins sighed and stepped to one side.
"Not good. I don't think he'll last much longer. All that . . . Trouble hit him hard." Heather swallowed, hearing a clicking her throat. She'd told her therapist what had happened and he had explained that it wasn't her fault, she had a guilt complex. Whatever that meant. They could call it what they want, it was her fault and nobody was going to change her mind on that.
Heather followed her mother along the landing to another door that was always kept closed; the room must be well heated at all times. Mrs Jenkins opened the door and they slipped inside before closing the door behind them. This room had changed since the last time Heather was here. It had been drab and almost colourless, now it was blue with matching carpet. All the furniture was maple and the floorboards shone in the daylight from the window.
In the bed was a young boy, he seemed to be nothing more than a pile of bones in yellowing skin. His hair was gone and even the whites of his eyes were yellow. Heather felt her heart lurch but she plastered a smile on her face.
"Nice digs you got here, kid." Mitchell looked up at her; he managed a smile but couldn't sustain it for long.
"I'm glad you're back. Now I can work on your surprise." Heather took his hand in hers and just perched on the edge of the bed, smiling at him. Mrs Jenkins left the room and when Mitchell had dozed off, Heather headed down to the kitchen. Her mother was waiting; they took the tea tray to the living room where Heather insisted on sitting in the big picture window. She wanted as many people as possible to know that she was back and that she was okay, even if she didn't feel it inside.