Five Cryptic Messages
And there were five sitting there, always five. She thought it odd. Why would that be? Every time she came home from work there were five smooth white stones right in front of her door. She would sweep them away, sometimes puzzled, sometimes irritated. But like clockwork, they would be there again when she returned. It was becoming troubling.
Every day for the last week, it had happened. Stones wouldn’t be moving themselves, so who was doing this? She could have blamed the event on neighbourhood children but her neighbourhood didn’t have children. At first she thought one of her friends might be playing a prank yet no one had confessed to it. Who on earth would have the time and the ability to do such a small thing with such persistance?
She couldn’t see old Mr. Hendricks from across the street being the culprit. He had been confined to a wheelchair since his car accident two years ago. She would see him being wheeled about by his live-in nurse, a woman in her forties with greying brown hair always done up in a bun. Hardly someone who would bother to leave rocks at a neighbour's door, Justine thought.
There was the neighbour to the right, Rayna Makepeace. Justine had not always gotten on well with Rayna, truth be told. Lately they had mended the rift between them and had even had some pleasant conversations over the hedge that had caused so many problems five years ago when Justine’s then live-in wanted to cut it down. It was Rayna’s pride and joy. The rose hedge needed a lot of upkeep, which Justine’s lifestyle was simply not equipped to provide. Once Justine had admitted that to Rayna, her neighbour had offered to caretake the hedge, if Justine would allow it to remain. The issue settled, the two women found many things they had in common. No, Rayna was not a likely suspect either.
On the left was Judge Barker’s house, which he let out to his daughter, while he and his wife were away on their extended vacation. His daughter was doing an advanced degree in bio-chemistry and being quite a studious young woman was not given to pranks and partying. She was quiet and spent most of her time indoors, working on her thesis.
With the most immediate neighbours unlikely suspects, who then could it be? Justine wondered as she drove home if they would be there today. She had actually thought of using a black marker to put a spot on the rocks so that she could see if they were exactly the same rocks as before. Although on reflection she supposed that it would not matter at all if they were. The question was not what, but who and more importantly, why?
She turned right at the traffic light and drove the speed limit down the avenue, which would turn onto her street. The “welcome to my garage” houses that had been built after her street had stood as the lone street in the now growing subdivision, were not her style. A large red ball bounced onto the street fifteen feet ahead of her and she slowed down, watching for children. Two boys raced out into the street then and Justine was glad she had slowed. She waited but no more children came. Her street had no children at all, something she was glad of. She resumed her speed and turned right at the next intersection. Dundsten Street, the sign read. She proceeded to the fourth house on the left, waving to Rayna as she turned into her own driveway.
She collected her briefcase and walked up to the porch. She saw them then: five stones in a circle directly in front of her door. She sighed. What will happen if I leave them there? She stepped carefully over them and opened the door with the key.
The next morning she stepped over them and left for work. She was intrigued to know whether they would remain alone or whether there would be ten stones upon her return. The day was incredibly busy and she could hardly believe it when she looked up to see the clock say five-thirty. No wonder it was so quiet! Everyone else was gone! She laughed at herself, gathered up her briefcase and skipped down the steps to the parking lot. On the way home, she enjoyed the sunshine and some quiet soulful jazz music. It was only when she pulled into the driveway that she remembered her interest in seeing how many stones would greet her today.
She peered up the steps and stopped, shocked. There was a pattern of stones extending the length of her porch. She walked carefully around the stones at first perceiving nothing but the multitude of white stones arranged oddly on the grey porch boards. Then letters were recognizable and from the letters, words. “ O, I thought you would never join in the dance!” It read clearly. Justine felt a chill run up her spine. Who was doing this? Maybe if she went along with it… would she be able to find out?