The tall steel shutters creaked and whined mournfully as she drew them shut. 

Her hands shook as she strained to push the handle in place, resorting to the use of an rubber mallet she had found in the old tool room down the hallway.  The device resisted painfully and let out a final squeak before the lock resentfully shifted into place.

The room now pitch black, apart from the two or three dots of sunlight creeping the holes in hinges and immediately, an overwhelming musky atmosphere filled the air. An undeniable sadness descended from eves.

The cold realisation of another ending.

She walked room to room, along the corridors and the balcony, the landings, the stairs. Checking each door and closing it tight. Any leading to the exterior; double locked and barricaded with iron bars across the frames.

As each door shut she said a silent prayer and wished the home a sweet farewell.

For while it’s contents and structure were but inanimate objects… to say they were without soul would sacrilege. The house stood mighty and proud, like fortress.

Or a prison.

An old iron key, reddish brown, twisted. Slotted in last lock. Key and mechanism merging together like old lovers reunited. With a solid clunk, the brief affaire was over the house sealed.

Her work here, done. She turned away… as she did, a sharp burning sensation on her left arm.

There had been no rain for months, and Summer passed again, leaving a dry and desolate path in its wake.  The mistral creating dust storms all around the house. Scratching at the walls and leaving films of white on every rose bush leaf.

The light had changed, no longer the high saturation under the furnace-like sun, but something subtler, softer, tired hues of browns, beige, grey. Only the cypress trees and the yew, held onto green dark green, close to black.

Distracted with luggage, phones, time, and the incessant rattle of cricket wings, she glanced down to see a scarlet line, stretching across her forearm, long and thin, like the title of a film. Presumably the work of a wayward thorn, leaving its mark on her skin.

Like a goodbye kiss. Passionate and painful.

She licked the wound before opening the car door, and throwing her bag on the passenger seat.

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