I emptied the bloody water from the sink and dressed. I had arrived with literally nothing and had to comb my hair with my battered fingers. The left side of my scalp was lacerated and swollen, and my jaw creaked, but my discomfort was dulled by my flourishing hope.
I searched the kitchen cupboards and found a large box of tea, coffee beans, brown sugar, damson jam, rice, barley and lentils. There were packets of dried fruit, oatcakes and chocolate biscuits, as well as bags of flour and several tins of vegetables and fish.
I made a mug of black coffee, sat at the table and carefully ate some oatcakes with the damson jam. My mind drifted back to the stranger in the rain; I must have looked terrified although I felt strangely calm. The stranger asked me few questions but handed me a lifeline - I could stay at their unused cottage in the fells that belonged to their recently deceased Uncle.
As we drove, I could hardly speak, instead I stared at my swelling reflection in the window and the tears tracking lines through my blood-stained face. The stranger said I could stay in the cottage as long as I needed and to get my life back on track.
After I ate, I explored my new home. Downstairs towards the back of the cottage was a small room with a single armchair, fireplace, basket of kindle and a good stock of seasoned logs. There was a radio on a shelf by a half-empty bottle of sherry and pile of books. The room had a large window with a cushioned window seat and I could see myself sitting there for hours.
There was more in the house than I needed and out there was spring. There would be wild garlic in the woods, along with chickweed, borage and burdock. As the seasons changed, I was sure to find nuts, berries and wild mushrooms. I could survive.
I slowly made my way upstairs and found two rooms and a small bathroom. The smaller room was filled with boxes and junk, and the larger room had a bed in the middle piled with clothes, jackets and socks. The stranger had said I could use what I wanted, so I carefully pulled off my blood-stained sweater and chose a thick grey jumper and some long wool socks.
I put on a jacket and then quickly put took it off again. Soon, but not yet, I would venture outside. Soon, when I had mentally processed, accepted and filed away recent events into a locked place that no-one - not even I - could find. The bruises and cuts would heal quickly, but the damage within would take more time, then I could enjoy the spring and immerse myself in the days as they grew and edged into summer.
No one would find me, I was sure of that. No one would ever know what I'd left behind. I just had to forget everything that happened. I would change my name, make up a different past and learn every single detail in case I needed to go back out there again. I’d alter my personality, even change my favourite films, taste in music and food. Yes, no-one would find me, certainly not Mo. I could relax.
My thoughts flickered back dangerously to when Mo had violently grabbed me and punched me over and over again, like I was a sack of sand. I thought - like many times before - that it was the end, but as my face slammed into the jagged stone wall, I realised it was the last time I’d be on the receiving end of such unfounded rage.
I felt my knees buckle, and as consciousness almost slipped from my grasp, I became of a strength - a strength so deeply rooted within the past that I'd forgotten it existed because I'd buried it for so long. Although the strength was just a glimmer, it was enough, and I pulled and pulled on it until I unraveled the light from my core. The light grew bigger and brighter until I felt like I could explode. I saw Mo’s eyes grow wide and flash with fear as the seemingly impossible happened: Mo shot off me and hovered several feet in the air as if held by a huge, invisible hand. My insides were so hot that I wrenched away my eyes, but as I did, Mo dropped down - down into the cold murky water of the tarn.
I watched in silence as Mo splashed and thrashed around, cried out and choked. It seemed like minutes but could have only been seconds before the menacing water dragged Mo deep into it's tangled dark liquid.
As the light left me, I found my voice. ‘You should have learnt to swim you bastard,’ I whispered before I left.