Instead of Robert’s ghostly whistling she heard loud builders’ voices, and instead of Robert’s pipe, she smelled the builders’ roll-ups whenever they had a cigarette break. She prayed for a quick finish and cursed when it went on past Christmas and into the New Year. Maurice the ghost cat stayed with her throughout the noisy experience, jumping from the bed every morning and peering out of the front window at her when she locked the car door after a day’s work and long drive home. Kay wondered if the builders had met the ghosts next door.
Finally, the last van disappeared up the road, and Kay heaved a sigh of relief. She leaned back in her armchair with a cup of tea in her hand, Muffin happily purring on her lap, and Maurice on the sofa. Peace was restored. Or so she thought.
When she opened the front door the next morning, a huge removal van was blocking her car in the small drive in front of her house, and burly men were carrying furniture and appliances into next door. She asked them as politely as possible through gritted teeth to move so that she could leave for work, but they ignored her and made her late. She had never been late in the whole of her working life! All day, she wondered what the new owners were like: would they be friendly, were they noisy, and did they have kids?
The traffic that evening was horrendous, with queues on the main road due to an accident, and she had to stop for petrol, so it was dark before she arrived home. There were lights on next door. A blonde woman in her thirties was hanging curtains in the front window. She looked friendly and Kay would have given her a wave if, on approaching her front door, she hadn’t seen Robert and the little old lady staring at her from her own front window. She fumbled with the key, it would not turn in the lock, and then she realised it was the backdoor key she held in her hand.