“Hello sweetie!” the woman called out as she opened the front door to the house. The hinged door slammed with a loud bang causing the young girl to jump. The mother could hear Hannah running across the floor overhead.
The child scampered down the worn, wooden steps and flung her arms around her mother.
“How as school today?” the woman asked. “We learned lots and played,” Hannah replied burying her nose into her mother’s snow dusted coat. Her mother patted her on the head and pulled off the coat shaking the tiny snowflakes like powder all over the girl. Giggling Hannah took the coat from the woman’s hands and deposited on the rack in the front hallway. She slyly peeked up the steps and then smiled.
Hannah followed the woman as she walked toward the back of the house and into the tiny kitchen. Dropping her purse on the table she turned to Hannah and asked “Anything exciting happen today?” Hannah shook her head and answered, “No. Nothing special. But it was a good day!”
The mother leaned down so she became eye level to the girl. “I am going upstairs to change clothes and will be back before you know it.” In an act of desperation Hannah exclaimed, “I’m hungry! Can we have dinner first?”
Mother patted her on the head, “Honey, it won’t take but a few minutes for me to change and then we can cook up something wonderful.” Hannah pleaded again. “I’m really hungry mummy!”
“Fine,” the woman replied. She stood up and walked over to the pantry pulling out a box of biscuits. “You can have 2 of these and I will be right back.” Hannah snatched the two biscuits and then said, “Here’s the mail! I brought it in for you.” Smiling proudly.
“Why thank you my little helper.” Patting her on the head, the mother took the mail from her daughter’s tiny hand. As she left the kitchen, Hannah dropped down in one of the vinyl covered chairs at the kitchenette staring at the biscuits pouting.
The woman slowly began to ascend the staircase flipping through the pieces of mail in her hand. Panic quickly overrode Hannah’s state of sulking. She swiftly pushed the chair over sending it to the floor with a loud crash.
Her mother stopped in mid-tracks. “Hannah! Are you all right?” The little girl mustered up pretend tears and blurted out “No!!!!” The woman rapidly rushed down the stairs and hurried to the kitchen. She grabbed the child in her arms and investigated her arms, legs and head for bruises. “Oh you are fine,” she comforted. “You are fine.”
She helped her daughter to her feet and forced the chair upright. “Now be careful. I will be right back.” Once again she departed the kitchen and ventured her way back to the narrow staircase.
Hannah slowly began to follow her up the stairs remaining at a distance. She watched her mother turn the right corner at the top of the steps. Hannah breathed a sigh of relief as she heard her mother gently close the bedroom door.
Hannah glanced down the hallway to her left and quietly crept outside the door to her mother’s room. Only a few moments had passed when mother opened up the door and was surprised when she saw the girl standing outside the door. “Oh Hannah you startled me.”
“Let’s go cook dinner now mummy,” the little girl commanded grabbing her mother by the hand. Smiling in an effort to conceal her growing impatience with the child, the mother responded “I need to use the bathroom first. How about you go downstairs and get the big soup pot out. We can make a very nice stew for such a dreary cold evening.”
“Off with you now. I will be right down.”
Hannah stepped backward allowing her mum to pass her. She stood watching. Her heart racing.
The woman entered the bathroom oblivious to her surroundings as she read one of the letters delivered in the post earlier that day. She placed the letter on the counter and began to unzip her pants when she heard the sound of a man clearing his throat.
She spun around in fear and saw a man in her bathtub. Her loud scream caused Hannah to run into the bathroom. The girl stood clutching her mother and peeked out from behind the woman. She winked at the man.
“What the hell are you doing in my house?” the woman managed to sputter.
“Pleased to meet you my lady. My name is Andrew Hall, but I do go by Andy if you like,” he replied as he extended his hand.
Searching for her next words, the mother glanced around the bathroom and saw what appeared to be a pile of soiled, worn out clothes.
She blinked her eyes hoping it would all disappear but the man was still there sitting in her tub.
Hannah tugged her mother’s jumper and whispered, “Can we keep him?”