Chapter 1 Casting Shadows
Viola rested her gin and tonic on the long wooden ledge. The 90z thick rock glass was placed exactly where the blue paint had stripped off, leaving a naked, grainy and dull patterning. She noticed, dusk had dawned on her. The ice cubes clinked the glass before the clear liquor and ice stilled. The slice of lemon looked tired and hunched over the ice-cubes. Viola had had enough. The scent of cut lime hovered between the mess behind her and her glass. As she withdrew her cold and wet right hand from the drink, and placed it against herself, warming it in her other hand, she caught a moving blurred white car. The car was driving away from her street towards Moggill Rd. Viola did not know where the car came from. She did not hear it. Her eyes fleeted across the acreage properties and returned to the mess on the glass table near her, on her verandah. There were empty chips, nuts and cheese packets with some half eaten dips. Empty bottles and wine glasses stood discarded. Ants had gathered. Soon, the possums would appear boisterously to help themselves at her Mount Crosby home.
The drinks had started out here, on the verandah at midday today and had stretched the hours, her guests’ behaviors’ and her patience. She was ready for her guests to leave two hours ago. Too drunk and too stupid to notice, her friend Nora Gritty did not pick up Viola’s hints that the party was over. Nora loved parties. To think Nora had had the nerve to invite herself and her friends, then not bother to leave after drinking all the alcohol but now Nora is talking about stripping and jumping into the pool. Viola had excused herself, and left the room.
"Where are you going?" Nora noticed her walk outside.
"I need some air", that was all Viola said.
Viola did not care about the alcohol. But she wanted time, time to herself and time to think before he got here. Today was the day. Everything had been set. She watched the sweat run off her glass and instantly stained the old timber. Most of the chilled run-off soaked into the timber grains. Her own sweat made her feel clammy.
"What's happened with your make-up?" Nora had asked her earlier.
"I am not wearing any".
"Nothing, I'm good", Viola lied.
On the vearandah, a feeling of despair came over her as darkness loomed and shadows peaked. She wanted to ask the guests to leave but she could not. Nora said she had kept to herself for too long. Viola felt trapped. In the background, her guests giggled and laughed; she could hear someone switching the lights on, throwing her own shadow forward to join the tall dark house on the lawn. Viola looked at the deserted road, knowing she could not turn back. The giggles and laughter became louder and Viola knew these were performances, fickle and simulated to get her attention, and this angered her. Viola wished she could dissolve into the grains of the old timber ledge and disappear with the water.
Over the verandah, her eyes, matching the brownie-green of the dying manicured lawn followed the edging of the garden to the leafy bottle tree. By now, the last week of Autumn, the tree should be flowering. It had been three years since she planted the semi-grown tree in 2011, just before the Queensland floods. Now, instead of being completely covered with its fiery, gorgeous red grandeur of flowering, like everything else, the bottle tree did not flower, but kept its deep dark green leaves. The sinking orange sun dusted the dark green leaves. As a slight breeze brushed the day away, the tinged leaves rustled into a dance drawing Viola’s eyes further to her extended creation, a garden bed of crusted rusty bark. Inlaid into this crusted bed neatly, and now flowering, were her pretty large white roses. These light delicate blossoms were blackened by the harsh, dense, lurking shadow. From the rose bed, Viola peeled her eyes away and looked up. She felt cold and she shivered as she gazed into the looming house that casted this thick dark shadow to her. The house was at least 50 metres away, but the shadow of the tall house bounced over the flat brownie-green lawn, visually, and almost touching her own shadow, linking her to her mysterious neighbours. She has not seen a single soul emerge from that house since the neighbours moved in six months ago.
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Pushing Up DaisiesMystery / Thriller
Viola had a plan. She had been miserable most of her married life. Her husband would be returning tonight and she must put her plan into execution. The problem is, her nosy friends keep distracting her and there is something very disturbing going on...