The Way We Lied

After a short while, she observed the two figures returning to the house and within minutes Mary reappeared at the door and walked to a small green car nearby. Nick stood in the doorway for a second and Sarah knew from his posture that he was more thoughtful than usual. Then he disappeared inside and Mary drove away in the dilapidated old Morris Minor.
Without thinking clearly about the consequences, Sarah decided to follow her. She had no idea where Mary was going, but she wanted to know more about her. The green car was old but rattled speedily through the lanes and down to the dual carriageway. Sarah kept her in sight, but allowed two more cars to filter in between them so Mary would not realise that the same car had been behind her for nearly three miles. Sarah assumed Mary must live somewhere near Godalming, as everything she was associated with linked her to that area, but she really did not know whether Mary’s home was in the town or an outlying district.
Then she realised that the green car was signalling and was coming off on the slip road towards Cottenham. Annoyingly the road led to a roundabout and Sarah could not follow immediately. By the time she was able to head after Mary, several other cars had slipped through and she could no longer see her.
She swore aloud, cursing the cars ahead of her and kept driving straight on. There was no sign of the green car and Sarah realised she would have to return home cross country, via the small winding switchback lane known locally as Swing Swang Alley. It was a quiet road, except in the morning and evening rush hours when commuters used it as a rat run. At those times it was also a rabbit run, with the tiniest of young rabbits escaping from their warm warrens and their mother’s clutches to hop out unchaperoned from the sandy banked verges onto the tarmac. Flattened, bloodied fur was all that remained of that morning’s casualties, along with a shredded ball of feathers that had recently been a cock pheasant. Sarah contented herself with enjoying the drive home, but as she approached the crossroads just past Crossmill Lake, she suddenly spotted a green car, just like the one she had been following earlier, darting down a track into the woods over to her left.
She felt she simply had to check in case it was Mary. She turned left and parked a little way along the road in a small clearing where dog walkers regularly left their cars. Then she walked back along the road to the track. On one side was a sign saying ‘Private’ and on the other a roughly painted board which read ‘Furze Cottage’.
She had never realised there was a cottage tucked away here, down the track she must have passed a thousand or more times. She peered down its length, but it veered to the left and she could not see a building. She started to walk along the badly rutted path cautiously then decided to creep through the trees, just in case the green car suddenly reappeared.
The track led to a red brick Victorian cottage and the car was parked outside. Was this where she lived, Sarah wondered, or was she just visiting and corrupting someone else? She stood in the shadows, watching, wondering if she would be given some clues. Then she saw Mary come out of the front door, accompanied by an obedient dog, to collect a bag of shopping from the boot of the car. She could not see any other inhabitants around or in the house. There was no noise, no chattering, no laughing. There was only Mary and a little spaniel trotting at her heels.
Sarah watched her for a while longer, then slipped silently back through the silver birch trees and returned to her car. Now she knew where Mary lived. Now she knew where to find her. “I know where you live,” she whispered to herself with satisfaction.


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