Chris and Sue had never been entirely sure who owned the field that ran beyond their back garden, but it had never been used for anything as far as they knew. Lately someone had been keeping a horse down there and when Sue was walking one afternoon and she stopped to pet the graceful beast, a shabby looking man had appeared and told her to leave them alone. It was then that Sue got suspicious.
“I bet he doesn’t have permission to keep that horse there.” she said to Chris.
Chris wanted her to leave it alone. He said, it’s only one horse, they’re not doing any harm, but Sue wouldn’t listen. She did some digging, as she put it, and she found out the field was privately owned, so she reported the man with the horse. Chris took in a long breath and let out an even longer sigh when she told him.
“Twenty years we’ve been here,” she began, but Chris butted in and talked over her. “Yes, twenty years in peace,” he said. “And now look what you’ve done, you’ve drawn attention to…”
“I’ve drawn attention to what? A trespasser? Good, I’m glad I have.”
The man with the horse was gone within the month, but Chris knew it wouldn’t stop there, and he was right.
This morning they’d been making a late breakfast in the kitchen at the back of the house when Sue peered out of the window. “What do you reckon they’re doing then?” she said.
Chris moved over to the window and stared out at two men in yellow jackets, one with a camera on a tripod and one walking about at the other end of the field.
Developers. He knew it. What else could they be? They were developers, come to scope out the land with a view to building on it.
“Now look what you’ve done!” Chris shouted. He sat down, his head in his hands at the table. Twenty years they’d lived here with that quiet stable field at the back of their house. That field that no one ever touched and hardly anyone ever bothered walking in. That field where, two years after they’d moved into this house, Chris had taken the body of the woman he’d accidently mowed down on the top road with the sharp bend in it. She’d been alone. She’d been drinking, he was pretty sure. The road was dead quiet, as dead as she was when he stepped out of the car and looked at her lying there in the glow from his headlights. It was late, there was no one around on that old winding road and Sue was asleep back at home. So Chris had bundled the body into the boot and taken it round the back of the houses where the field lay quiet and still. He’d chosen a good spot and he’d dug down into the ground and he’d laid the unknown woman to rest.
He looked out at the field now where the two men walked and soon bulldozers would arrive and begin digging up the secrets the land kept. No one had missed her, for almost twenty years, no one came looking for her. She was from out of town or maybe even another country, and no one had ever looked for her. Until now.
Samantha Priestley is the author of the Folded Word short-fiction chapbooks Dreamers (2014) and Orange Balloon (2016). She’s a novelist, playwright, and essayist who spins words into gold from her home in Sheffield, UK.
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