Thea pulled on the large, heavy waxed jacket that Bertie had insisted she wear. She fastened it up around her neck and added a beanie hat that she found in the pocket. Stepping out of the friendly warmth of the school, she was surprised at the intensity of the downpour. It battered against her as she struggled down the familiar path that led to her cottage. Like needles of pain, the rain fell relentlessly against her making it hard to walk against the deluge. Thea knew the path well but, even so, found herself struggling to see the way ahead. She found looking down was the only way to progress. This meant that several times she misjudged the overhanging branches of a tree and procured a number of blows to the head. The water was slopping up over the pathway causing her feet to submerge in the flood waters.
At last, Thea saw the familiar building that meant she was home. She slid her key gratefully into the lock and burst through into the small, cosy lounge. The rain drummed on the tin roof as Thea busied herself collecting items that she would need. Being organised, she soon had quite a collection of ‘must have’ items stuffed into a large overnight bag. In her small bathroom, she stood in front of her oval mirror and removed the drenched beanie. She pulled her unruly hair into a severe bun. She wanted to avoid the frizz that the rain was already inflicting on her thick red mane.
“Quite the schoolmarm.” Thea laughed as she popped her reading glasses onto the tip of her nose. She knew if she didn’t wear them they would lay forgotten on the vanity unit.
A loud crash made Thea jump and let out a sharp scream.
“Are you there love?” a deep voice called. “I am from the fire department and have come to get you to the school.”
Get me to the school, how dare he? Thea fumed. How old does he think I am?
A gentle knock sounded on the bathroom door.
“Are you in there? Do you need some help?”
Thea paused with her hand on the handle before pulling the door open with more force than she intended.
This time it was the firefighter’s turn to jump.
“You’re not old Mrs. Ferris,” he snapped.
“And you are not a very polite rescuer,” she bit back, surprised at the fury this stranger had roused in her. She looked up into granite eyes and felt a flutter in her breast that she had not experienced for a few years.
The granite eyes regarded her with contempt.
“What idiot remains in their home with a severe weather warning enforced?” his eyes raked dismissively over Thea.
“Not that it is any of your business,” Thea retorted tartly in her best schoolteacher voice, “but I was merely gathering a few items for the night. I am in no need of rescuing by you or any other wannabe hero that comes by.”