I was running along the road and I was almost out of breath. Mica was running happily alongside me and didn’t seem tired at all.
“It’s unfair you know,” I gasped trying to ignore the increasingly stinging feeling on my right side. I had been very fit not that long ago, but the increase in office hours seemed to have had some effect on my fitness. Before I could run for over an hour. Not exactly marathon fitness, but at least it wasn’t bad. I liked jogging in the London parks in the mornings and I fit it in as often as I could and when the weather was nice. Now, I had been running for twenty minutes and I was ready to collapse. I made a mental note to never let my fitness laps this much again if I could help it.
I slowed down and Mica laid down on the ground next to me. I did some stretching exercises hoping they should enable me to continue my run while he watched me with big trusting brown eyes. Mica had taken so well to living with us that you’d hardly know that only a couple of days earlier; he’d not been a happy chap. And Emma was head over heels in love with him. I must confess I had fallen too. And after the events of the past couple of weeks, it felt nice to have a big strong companion around.
We started running again about five minutes later when my pulse had slowed down and I felt ready to go, but I had to admit defeat after another five minutes when my side started stinging again. I had to work gradually to get back to where I had been, but hopefully it wouldn’t take that long. Not feeling like sitting down and not wanting to leave Mica in the house if I went kayaking, I decided to take a walk out to Nellevine the lighthouse instead.
Emma had been quite alarmed when I had relayed my conversation with Rosa. She blamed herself up and down for not doing a more proper check on the woman. But I calmed her down by telling her she really had had no reason to.
“First of all, it was a bit of fun. And secondly, how could and did you know that this was going to be mixed in with all the other stuff going on?”
She had seen my point in the end, though she made a promise to herself that no more psychics should enter any party she was arranging.
My next step was to try and get a picture of the fake Clara. But that was hard because now that the fake Psychics association page was down, there were no pictures of her online. It was then that Emma got the brilliant idea of sending out a mass e-mail to the people who had been to the party to ask if they could forward any pictures they’d taken to be used in the digital photo album she wanted to create for the celebrations. And she especially asked if anyone had taken pictures of the fortune teller in the white tent. A lot of people came forward with their pictures. A lot of them were similar, so we sat in the evening picking the best ones to put in the album which she would make available on the Hansen & Dale Facebook page. But none of the pictures had been of the fortune teller, unfortunately. Although we had a slight hope that some people would still reply.
The walk out to Nellevine was a rocky and uneven one. And I was almost regretting embarking on it. But Mica enjoyed himself. He stopped and sniffed the flowers, trees and bushes. And in certain places, he marked where he had been so that the next doggy who came along would know that this was his territory. Despite the uneven path of the walk, I began to really enjoy it after a while. The smell of sunshine and flowers, the singing of the birds and the white clouds dotted all over the blue sky lifted my spirits. The clouds also gave me relief from the sun which was actually quite hot. I was thinking of nothing, except that I wanted to go for a swim later. And I was going to suggest to Emma that we’d do a BBQ. And I’d go look for wild strawberries we could eat for dessert, or maybe we could make some jam. The strawberries growing wild on the ground, in the forest, alongside roads and in gardens were my absolute favourite ones. They were small, sweet and had a stronger strawberry taste than the big ones.
My phone vibrated in my pocket and I took it out to see who it was. I was hoping it was a text from Markus. But it was an e-mail from Emma.
“We’re in luck. This just came through. Though it’s not the best quality.”
There was an attachment. My signal here wasn’t great, but I managed to download it. It was a picture of Clairvoyant Clara where she was standing next to the blond woman I’d met in the toilet at the party who thought she’d be the new Elizabeth Gilbert. The blond was dominating the picture. Clara was holding a hand up in front of her face, as if to obscure it. I sent the image to Merete along with the words: “Fake fortune teller naming herself Clairvoyant Clara. Any chance you can try and find out who she is? I’ll do a google picture search, but I have a feeling I won’t find anything of importance.”
Mica had started become impatient drag on the lead, so I sent the e-mail and started walking. We were nearly at the lighthouse. I could see it far away in the distance.
We reached it twenty minutes later. I had allowed Mica to run on a very long lead, because for some reason he had been so keen to get there. He’d run fast as lightning and stopped to see whether I was following whenever the lead was pulled to the max. I’d have wanted him to run freely had it not been for the sign that calfs and sheep were grazing nearby, though I dhadn’t seen any. . I was feeling just a little out of breath after my brisk walk, and I was sweating. I really couldn’t wait for that swim. The lighthouse, I knew, which was really just a torch hadn’t been operated for a while. Not after everything became automatic. Someone perhaps would fix the lights if they didn’t switch on. But there was no lighthouse keeper anymore. I was therefore surprised to find Mica sniffing the air and standing so calmly as if he was listening out for something.
“Let’s go home now,” I said. “It’s hot and there’s nobody there.”
The growl started from deep in Mica’s throat and grew till it became a deep, resounding bark.
“What’s the matter?” I said. As if he could answer me. But he barked again. And even louder than before.
“Mica,” I said, making my voice sound strict. But he wasn’t listening. It wasn’t possible to get any closer to the torch. But Mica looked as if he wasn’t going to accept that. He seemed to desperately want to enter it. Then I too saw something. At first, I thought the sunlight was playing a trick on me but know. I saw faint red light coming from the highest point. And I saw something else. A pair of eyes observing Mica and me. Someone was in there. But who could it be? How many people had the key to the lighthouse? I turned around and ordered Mica to follow me. At first he was unwilling, but when I pulled on his lead and strictly told him to follow me.
It was later in the evening. When I’d come home, I’d had a long swim. Mica, it turned out, was an excellent swimmer in class doggy and he had almost not wanted to get out of the water. Afterwards, I’d taken a shower and prepared for the BBQ. Emma had been delighted at the idea. And we were now sitting in the garden enjoying some strawberries for dessert. I hadn’t managed to pick enough wild strawberries. The few I’d found disappeared mysteriously into my mouth, so Emma had bought some on our way home.
“On days like this, I just can’t imagine myself ever going back to London,” I said.
“Have you thought anymore about that?” Emma asked.
I had told her and Arlette about my ex step-dad and how he had been the cause of my running away from everything. They had said the same thing as Markus. That I needed to face up to him and claim my innocence.
“I really don’t know. I think this south coast life is totally my thing in the summer, but I am a city girl.”
At that moment my phone rang and Merete’s number came up on the screen.
“Sandra,” she said. No introduction, no how are you.
“Who died?” I asked jokingly and sipped my glass of red wine.
“Can you meet me tomorrow? I think I may have found your fortune teller.”