When Mrs Rizzo struggled into the kitchen with a six foot stuffy guy in her arms, her daughters didn't know what to say.
"Are we keeping the scarecrows inside now?" asked Fiona. She sprayed crumbs across the table and her mother gave her a disapproving look before leaning the guy against the sink.
"This is Patrick. I made him to sit on the roof. I'm so tired of those bloody birds pecking their way through and getting into the attic."
"Patrick?" asked Cori. Her hand was paused halfway to her moth with a piece of toast and jam.
"He has to have a name" replied Mrs Rizzo as if it were the dumbest question she had ever been asked. And with that, she stalked from the room.
"Mum's cheese has just slid from her cracker" whispered Arabella. They stared at each other; the guy was particularly creepy with black button eyes and huge grin.
"I'm not gonna be able to sleep knowing that thing's on the roof" said Fiona. She slapped the flat of her hand across the head and Patrick slid sideways onto the floor. Fiona and Cori laughed; they scooped up their bags and hurried from the kitchen. Arabella finished her tea and then hoisted Patrick up into a chair. She slung her own bag over her shoulder and was just leaving the room when she heard Patrick grunt. Arabella turned and stared, wide eyed, at the stuffy guy. She shook her head and bolted from the room.
It was almost dark when Arabella got back to the farm that evening. She had been held up in town but, luckily, they were in such an out of the way place there was no traffic coming in. She climbed out of her car and jumped as a shadow moved across the floor. Arabella looked up at the farmhouse roof and shielded her eyes from the fading sunlight. There were three silhouettes on the roof.
"What are you doing up there?" she called. Fiona poked her head over the edge and grinned at her sister.
"We thought we'd dance with Patrick. He's the only male for miles and we want him to feel at home!" Fiona pulled her head back as Cori crowed with laughter, there was a little whispered conversation and Arabella knew what was coming next. After a moment of silence, Patrick came flying over the edge and dropped into the spot Arabella had just vacated. This time, there was no mistaking the loud grunt that issued for the stuffy guy. The laughter from the roof stopped, Cori's voice wasn't quite steady when she spoke.
"What was that?" Arabella stepped around Patrick and hurried into the house.
Arabella rolled over in bed and frowned at her digital clock, the numbers told her it was 3.42am. Something had woken her but she wasn't sure what. Then the sound of heavy footsteps crossing the roof above made her frown.
"Are you awake, Bella?" She jumped as her mother's hissing voice broke the silence.
"I'm awake. What's that noise? Who's on the roof?" Mrs Rizzo crossed the room and took her daughter's hand; they went out into the hallway. Cori and Fiona were standing at the top of the stairs, their arms were linked but they looked a little bored.
"You girls stay here" said Mrs Rizzo. Arabella groaned as her mother continued on to the attic stairs, letting go of her hand. As soon as she was out of sight, Fiona and Cori slumped back to bed. The footsteps that had been striding across the roof suddenly stopped and after a few minutes, Mrs Rizzo almost slid back down the stairs. She was very pale and her mouth worked but no sound came out.
"Mum? What happened?"
"He was dancing. He was dancing on the roof." Mrs Rizzo walked straight past her eldest daughter and into her bedroom, closing the door behind her. The footsteps started up again, this time they were lighter and almost spritely. Arabella swallowed and for the first time in nearly ten years, she crept into her mother's room and crawled into the bed.
The next morning, Arabella awoke to loud and high pitched screaming. She threw herself out of bed, dashed along the landing and took the stairs three at a time. Mrs Rizzo was crouched in the corner of the kitchen; she was pulling at her hair and groaning.
"Mum? What's - ?" Arabella looked up and screamed herself, falling backwards and landing with a loud thump on the floor. Patrick was standing in the doorway, his button eyes almost alive and the grin on his mouth wider than ever. Sudden crows of laughter erupted and Fiona and Cori staggered into the room
"You two are precious!" cried Fiona.
"Like mother like daughter! Dumb as a bag of spanners the pair of you!" finished Cori. Arabella had never been angry in her life so this new rage that was bubbling in her veins was a totally new sensation. She stood up and walked across the room, she shoved Cori aside so violently that she hit the counter with a loud crunch. The laughter stopped immediately. Arabella pulled Patrick from the doorway, where he had been attached with nails, and placed him in one of the kitchen chairs.
"Who the Hell do you think you're shoving?" spat Cori. Arabella turned and pushed her sister again, this time much harder and with both hands. The younger girl went sprawling to the floor and Arabella heard a whispery chuckle coming from Patrick. This time, she didn't run away. She tipped her head to one side and leaned closer to the stuffy guy, a small smile moved over her lips and she nodded a few times as if listening. Fiona and Cori stared at each other.
"Okay. You're just trying to creep us out because we scared you" said Fiona, but she didn't sound too sure. Arabella straightened up and helped her mother off the floor.
"He spoke to you. You know what to do?" whispered Mrs Rizzo.
"We take you to the hospital" said Arabella. She half dragged her mother outside, Fiona and Cori were shouting all the while. They were calling the retreating the pair cowards and that they were dumb. In fact, they were doing so much yelling that they didn't notice the dark shadow stand up behind them from the kitchen table. Arabella saw it. She saw it and smiled.
Arabella returned to the house next day. Mrs Rizzo was comfortably established with her own mother, eating chicken soup and lying in her childhood bed. Arabella stepped inside the house and looked around the kitchen, apart from a few drops of blood on the floor, it all looked okay. She followed the drops out of the kitchen and up the stairs to the second floor, turned right and continued up the second set of stairs to the attic. It was too dark up there to see any kind of trail, but she didn't need it. Arabella walked across the attic and lifted a trapdoor in the roof; she hung onto the opening and lifted herself upwards.
"Oh my God. Holy fucking shit." Arabella dropped back down into the attic, her face was very pale and a little green. She hadn't expected that.
On the roof, Patrick began to dance. His big sister was pleased with him, he could tell. The two nasty ones, he didn't know their names and Patrick didn't want to. They were stretched out on the roof to dry, like a couple of cow hides. The two nasty ones but just their skins and Patrick danced and danced and danced.