Louis got out of his small service van, picked up his bag from the back and walked up the gravel path to the large imposing house set on Upton Heath. Louis was an expert on repairing washing machines, spin dryers, electric cookers and many other types of household appliances.
He knocked on the door and it was opened by an attractive woman about 24 years of age wearing clothes that wouldn’t look out of place in a TV drama such as Foyle’s War set during WW2.
‘Good morning madam. I am the service engineer; you called and said you had a problem with your washing machine.’ said Louis.
‘Oh hello, do come in.’ the woman said. She was well spoken, and had a slight accent, possibly French.
‘The washing machine is becoming noisier and I hoped you might be able quieten it.’ she said.
Louis couldn’t quite make her out. Was it the way she spoke, or the strange way she looked at him? He also felt he had seen her before somewhere but couldn’t think where.
Louis was taken down a passageway, past a room which could have been an office, as there was a bookcase and desk with documents on; and then shown into a large kitchen. The washing machine sat next to a cottage style white sink with a wooden draining board. The whole set up, including the washing machine looked to be over ten years old, maybe older.
Louis started the machine and it ran through its wash cycle without much trouble, which surprised him. It was noisy but acceptable for its age. But he thought he could quieten it with the right part.
‘It probably needs a new drive belt. I will have to order one for it.’ Louis said.
The woman was staring intently at him, and ignoring his comment about the drive belt, said; ‘Don’t you give ghost walks around the village.’
‘Yes I do, Friday evening, most weeks. I also write about the ghosts of Upton. There is quite a history of ghosts being seen in the area. Even the Rising Sun pub has its ghost.’
Louis left his card and said he would return with the spare drive belt the next day.
When he returned the following day to the house there was no answer when he knocked. He swore to himself and was about to leave when he accidentally knocked against the door. The door swung open and it was dark and dusty inside. Louis called out;
‘Hello is anyone there?’ and cautiously walked down the familiar hall up to the door of the room he had seen the bookcase and desk in the day before. They were still there but looked very dusty now. He walked into the room and up to the desk and saw that there was a new yellow pages book open at the washing machine service page. His name had been ringed.
On the mantle shelf there was a picture of the woman he had seen the day before with a young soldier; they appeared to be a couple. Looking back to the desk he saw an old newspaper dated May 24th 2004 and two pictures of the woman, again ringed. It was an obituary of 86 years old Edith Strong. It showed her when she was a British Spy working in France during the Second World War, and as he had seen her the day before. And also a picture of her ten years ago at 86 saying she had died at Upton and gave details of her heroism during WW2.
Louis now remembered where he had seen her before. He remembered the story as it had been big news in 2004. He knew then that she had contacted him the way she had so that her story would not be lost in the mists of time. She intended that he should write about his experience and include Edith Strong in his ghost walks in future.
He walked down to the kitchen but there was no washing machine there now. The kitchen was empty except for a dusty old wooden draining board and a cracked cottage style white sink.