Karen watches as the water rises. Drip. Splatter. Splash. The Met Office have red warnings all across their website, big grey raindrops hanging under their cartoon grey clouds. She has to go and meet him, she's late already, but the rain gets heavier and heavier, slapping the window, spluttering out of the gutters, and she's in her bedroom with the radiator on and she doesn't want to leave.
The house across the road is no longer a house. She's watched it come down these last few days, windows cracking, walls tumbling, the waste scooped up by the sinister-looking digger and dumped into a growing, dusty pile. Now there's a hole, and the rain is thumping down and the wind is roaring, and the water is rising. Drip. Splatter. Splash.
Ross will be waiting for her, hunkered by the train station entrance, his hood pulled up, watching the trees bend in the wind. She wonders how long he will wait before he calls. She wonders how many times he will call before he gives up. She wonders when he will duck down into the station and head some place else, on his own.
The water rises. Drip. Splatter. Splash. It's almost at the top of the hole now, rain pocking the surface.
Karen goes outside without a coat, without a hat, without shoes. The wind roughs her hair, makes her feel she has to snatch at her breath. The leaves are dark, damp, mulch between her toes. She has to climb the fence to get to the hole, which used to be a house, which is full now, overflowing, the water turning the earth to slick, thick mud.
The water is not cold. She steps in and it seems to open up and pull her down, like someone has put their hands around each ankle and given a firm, but gentle, tug.
Like Alice, she thinks, as she sinks. Like Alice, falling down the rabbit hole...