Bareword
Under the Ashes

It was difficult to see the shape buried in the grass. Yellowish light flickered from a streetlamp some way back. Tiny lines of illumination picked out a broken frame which was naggingly familiar. After some seconds I had it.

It was a broken bicycle, an old type with a heavy-looking, clumsy frame. The whole apparatus was terminally rusted. The handlebars had twisted off and lay among the wet strands nearby. A little bell remained on the right-hand one, adorned by a faded picture of a bird.

Andrew tapped it with his booted foot. Pieces crumbled and fell away. Looking carefully, I saw some of the frame was blackened, as if it had been on the edge of an intense fire.

Kirsten nudged my attention upwards. A tall window was directly above us, in the bizarre fashion of the house. It had to be somewhere close to the first storey. At first I thought it was clean, until I realised it had virtually no glass at all; just a few remnants clinging to the frame.

The angle of the bike relative to the window, the nature of the breakage … it almost looked as if someone had ridden it through the window. Were we not in the shadow of this particular house, I would have found the idea hilarious.