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Ellie Stevenson, 11 Nov '12

We’d been in the flat a year when it happened.

The night had been cold, and extremely wet, not very pleasant. I was sitting in my chair, over by the window.

My wife was out working, she usually was. It was then that I heard it, an enormous crash, a screech and a thud, followed by silence. Someone’s life, played out on the pavement. It wasn’t the first time our street had done that, claimed a victim, with its deadly camber, its rain-stroked curve. The road was treacherous, sometimes lethal.

I leapt from my chair and ran to the window. She was lying there, in the middle of the tarmac, broken, damaged, her head to one side. She was calm and quiet and didn’t move, and the bike beside her was bent out of shape. My heart stopped beating. It was Charlotte Brontë.

And it looked to me as if she was dead.

I dressed quickly, with trembling fingers, opened the door and ran down the stairs. The street would be empty, it was access only, apart from the tourists. There were no tourists on the street that night. I opened the door that led to outside and looked to the right, she’d be just round the bend. I rounded it quickly, as fast as I could. There was no-one there.

I blinked sharply and looked again, in case I'd missed her. I saw the rain, it was heavier now, streaming down gutters, flooding the road. I saw the light on an empty can, a broken bottle, remains of a toy. But that was all. No bike wheels spinning high in the air, no ghastly corpse, or crumpled victim propped against a wall. The street was damp and devoid of life, but also of death. I watched the water running away. All I could think was one small thought. I hadn’t known Charlotte could ride a bike.

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