The candle flickered, and light danced around the room, the flame licking upwards at its influence on Owen’s eyesight. He strained eyes, squinting through the lenses of his glasses as he tried to focus on the homework. It was almost pitch-black outside, and with the power cut caused by roadworks, all he had was the one, red candle,
His pencil scratched across the paper with an eloquent flair, each word crashing into the next. He wouldn’t stop writing until it was done. He wasn’t ready for another after school detention, he had things to do after 3 o’clock and writing lines wasn’t one of them.
Wrist aching, he stopped for a moment. There was something moving outside of his bedroom, quiet, padded footsteps, but loud enough to be heard by alert ears attached to the head of a frantic manic mind such as Owen’s. He swivelled round on his chair and hopped onto the carpet. The flooring choices his grandmother had made when refurbishing the house gave him the advantage of a soft landing.
Speaking of his grandmother, Owen ran through his scrambled thoughts to find the memory of her going to bed at 9.30pm. It was now 3.40am. His grandmother, if she’d stuck to her normal routine, would be fast asleep in her bed, aided by sleeping pills. She never broke routine. She was a creature of habit. Unlike Owen, who wasn’t frightened by the footsteps in the hall but intrigued by the prospect of something out of the ordinary happening.
His hand gripped onto the cold, gold doorknob as he listened out for the footsteps. Silence. The handle twisted, and the wooden door swung open to reveal an empty hallway with closed doors leading to presumably empty rooms. The whole house was empty. Not of furniture, but of emotions. Owen and his grandmother didn’t have a very loving relationship, if you could even call what they had a relationship. It was cold, like Owens’s hand and heart, and unlike the candle that still burned away on his desk.
Owen’s Grandmother was very sick, very old, and very rich. The latter was the only reason Owen agreed to live with her after his parents divorced and neither wanted custody of him. His brothers and sisters were lucky; they were older and lived on their own and Owen couldn’t wait for the day he was able to move out into the world. He really didn’t care for his Grandmother.
So, it wasn’t concern that Owen felt when he realised his grandmother’s door was open when it was usually shut, and that her bed was empty, but curiosity. Where was she?
“Gran?” He called out, listening for any sound and movement as he moved towards the first flight of stairs, his fingers sliding down the banister as he skipped every other step.
His grandmother was standing the top of the second flight of stairs, paler and frailer than usual. Owen knew something was wrong with her “Gran, you should be in bed,”
The landing was dark, dark enough that maybe she didn’t see the stairs and fell, breaking her neck and legs. Maybe an accident was what they both needed. Owen would inherit everything and be free of his Grandmother’s controlling nature, and she would be out of pain and misery. It was a win-win situation and Owen barely gave it a second chance before he approached her withered body from behind and shoved her. She didn’t make much sound, being so small and thin, but her body landed with a sickening crunch.
Owen slowly crept down the stairs and stared at the broken and bleeding body through squinted eyes. It was darker down here, but he knew she was dead. He couldn’t hear her raspy shallow breathing.
The power was still out, and therefore he couldn’t call ambulance. After all, this was an accident. His elderly sick grandmother happened to trip and fall in the dark. It was going to happen one day or another.
Outside the only light was the occasional car and the full moon, and Owen shoved his feet into his wellies and ran across the property to one of the neighbouring houses. It was a nice, friendly, middle class neighbour in southern England. Everyone was happy, and no one had any problems save for which new sofa they wanted and which fee-paying school their kids should go to. The closest neighbours, a quiet family with two young daughters, got the fright of their lives when a frantic looking Owen banged on their nice green front door, shouting about his Gran. The power wasn’t due back on for another hour, and the family patiently waited with him, falling for his act of the diligent grandson who’d heard his beloved Gran fall down the stairs and discovered her broken body in dark.