Estelle lay drowsing in her bed by the window. The morning outside was just beginning, the first show of light peeking over the horizon some miles off. There were clouds across the sky, dark blue in the last of the night light, pinkness creeping in at their edges as the day warned its way into the world.
The rain had stopped during the night. Even though the rain had been heavy, Estelle still left her window open a crack as she had every night since she was a girl. She enjoyed a breath of cold air flushing out the sleepiness in the room and believed it helped keep her head clear for when she woke. Modern plastic windows may help keep in warmth but Estelle preferred older, ill-fitting frames that allowed air to circulate into every room of her house.
Her daughter Melanie had started asking about whether she might think of moving now that Gerald and died and the old house was too much work to keep up. Estelle tried to say she liked it ‘old’ but Melanie told her she’d get pneumonia from the draughts and she should move now whilst she could still enjoy it. Estelle thought perhaps a little white bungalow near the seaside, close to Melanie and her family, but her daughter pulled out a brochure for Golden Laurels and left it on the side table.
She insisted on staying at home, then softened to the bungalow, but eventually Melanie wore her down and she gave in. Now as she lay in bed deciding when she would open her eyes, she would see only the ceiling of The Garden Room at Golden Laurels. It had no dusty spider webs, she knew, no small insects crawling about in the corners despite the name suggesting it may be a haven for the little creatures Estelle had watched for years. They help the garden, she would say, but nobody was very interested.
When she decided she was awake and too restless to lie in bed any longer, Estelle lifted her head and turned towards the window. It was still early but the sky had now reached today’s shade of grey. There were trees outside her room and some bushes and plants, few of which were in bloom. She could see no birds or animals but imagined they were still waking for the day. Through the rattling windows of the old house she could hear a chorus of songbirds every morning, loved listening to their tunes and warbles before she started the day.
Estelle began to rise, lifted back the covers and placed her feet into her slippers on the floor bedside the bed. Through the slit of open window she heard a crow calling, raw, rasping , incessant, nasty. She took off her slippers, lay back down and pulled the covers up over her head.