A Peek Through The Curtains

Allison Hay © Illustration: Shutterstock


Why was Karen’s neighbour digging a hole in the dead of night? And was his wife really visiting her sister?

I was careful to stand well back behind the curtains. The bedroom light was off and I had a clear view into Mr and Mrs Granger’s back garden.

Although dark, it was easy to make out the shadowy figure of Mr Granger. I hadn’t expected to see him – I was checking for foxes and making sure they weren’t digging up my new bulbs.

Then I noticed him. At first I couldn’t make out what he was doing. It was late at night, after all. So I admit I stood back and peeked through my heavy drapes – curiosity getting the better of me – careful to remain unseen.

But I still wasn’t prepared for what I saw. I didn’t expect to watch my next door neighbour pick up a garden spade and start digging in the far corner of his immaculate lawn.

Mr Granger was a stickler for perfection. If a weed dared to sprout on any inch of his land, it would be gone in an instant. Any rogue plant life encroaching on his hallowed back garden was swiftly disposed of.

So what on earth was he doing?  My eyes were glued to the man I’d said a cheery hello to a few hours ago, now digging determinedly in the dark.

As he dug, I watched silently from my window. After only a short while it became obvious what he was doing. He was digging a hole. A big hole in the corner of his prize-winning grass.

Obscured by shadows, but plainly visible on the grass next to him, was some sort of bulky object. I couldn’t make out what it was, although the contents seemed to be wrapped in a blanket, or some kind of covering.

I stared hard at it as Mr Granger continued to dig methodically. And I found myself remembering the last conversation I’d overheard between Mr and Mrs Granger.

The back door was open and their voices carried clearly across the fence…

“I can’t take much more, Enid – you need to listen to me for once  –”

Someone slammed the back door then. Voices had been raised for a while but became muffled and I realised I was listening in to a private argument.

I shrugged it off. We all have arguments, after all. Now though, witnessing Mr Granger digging furtively in the darkness, there was an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Mr and Mrs Granger were already living next door when Stuart and I moved in ten years ago. They seemed a pleasant enough couple, always happy to chat and share the occasional cuppa.

Mrs Granger was an excellent seamstress – professionally trained, as she loved to tell everyone. She showed me pictures of the clothes she’d made.

I’ll always run you up a dress if you want one.

She used to say.

I never took up her offer, but she did help with a pair of curtains once.

Mr Granger liked his garden. He liked things neat and tidy. Orderly, you could say. Together they seemed well matched. But as the saying goes, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors.

Mr Granger had stopped digging. He picked up the bulky shape that was lying on the grass and awkwardly lowered it into the hole.

He looked up then, as if sensing he was being watched. Without realising, I held my breath. Then he looked down again and started to cover the hole with soil. Slowly and carefully, making his usual neat pristine job of it.

I saw Mr Granger the next morning. I’d dropped the children at school and he was in the front garden when I returned.

“Morning, Karen,” he called. He sounded perfectly normal. I smiled and said good morning and he said something about how bad the fox situation was at the moment and we should do something about it.

“I’m not sure what you can do, Mr Granger,” I said.

I’ll find something. I’m determined to find something. You can buy things.

He laughed.


“Oh yes. I’ve found a deterrent on the internet. I’ll let you know if it works.”

“Do you get a lot of foxes then?”

He laughed softly. “Oh yes. They make holes everywhere in my garden.”

“Big holes?” I asked.

He gave me a funny look and I defused the tension with a smile.

“How’s Mrs Granger?”

“She’s fine – spending a few days at her sister’s in Margate. I’m fending for myself at the moment.”


“Well, her sister’s not in the best of health. She’ll only be gone for a day or two. I’m sure I’ll manage.”

“Some peace and quiet, eh?” I said.

He gave a short laugh.

“Something like that.”

Later that day I couldn’t resist looking from my bedroom window again. There was an expanse of earth in the corner hiding the hole, but it already seemed to be blending in with the garden. Maybe he’d plant some flowers there, I thought, to hide what he’d done.

I stopped myself then. What on earth was I thinking? Mrs Granger would be back in a day or two and all would be well. I was being ridiculous – probably been watching too many crime dramas.

A day or two passed. Then three. On the fourth day I saw Mr Granger in the front garden again.

“Is Mrs Granger home yet?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Not yet. Her sister’s taken a turn for the worse apparently and she’s staying on a bit. I’ll have to soldier on a while longer.”

“I’m sorry to hear she’s still unwell.”

“To be honest, Karen, I think her sister’s just lonely. I knew that would happen. Whenever Enid visits, she always has a job leaving again.”

“The house must be very quiet without her.”

“I don’t mind a bit of quiet, Karen.” He lowered his voice. “And everywhere stays nice and tidy. Between you and me, Enid’s sewing takes over the whole house at times. Makes a right mess.”

“Must be annoying,” I agreed.

He nodded. “I wouldn’t be lying if I said it got on my nerves at times.”

Six days passed. Mr Granger went about his business and there was still no sign of Mrs Enid Granger.

On the seventh night, things took a darker turn. I found myself peeking through my bedroom curtain again. Stuart was already in bed reading, the children fast asleep in their rooms. I told myself I was checking for foxes, but really I was drawn to look at the freshly dug earth next door again.

The large hole was as flat and perfect as if it had never been dug at all. I looked up at the night sky. There was a full moon.  It was big and round, and so bright and beautiful I told Stuart to come and look at it. He murmured something about reading his book and didn’t move.

I looked back out of the window. The full moon was sending soft beams of light down into the gardens. I could see the quick-moving shadows of foxes running down the path and the fleeting glimpse of a cat taking its nightly walk. Stuart closed his book.

“Come on Karen – let’s get the light out. I’ve got a busy day tomorrow.”

My stomach did a weird flip and I could hear my heart beating.  I had to keep looking out of the window because I was scared I might be wrong.

I had to be wrong. But I wasn’t. I could definitely see it.

Emerging from the recently dug earth and clearly visible in the eerie white light filtering across the garden, was a hand. A stark white hand that glinted in the moonlight, as if clawing its way from under the mud towards freedom.

I didn’t scream but my body began shaking and I was aware of Stuart looking up and staring at me.

“What’s wrong?”

“My phone –” I said. “Quick!”

The police were outside our house within fifteen minutes. I remember walking down the path to meet them and the sound of loud knocking on Mr Granger’s door. I remember his look of shock and surprise. I remember following the police and Mr Granger as they walked round to his back garden, torches leading the way.

I remember the sick feeling inside me as they scraped away at the soil. I remember looking away as the white hand was released from its grave. I remember every single second of that dreadful night.

Is it true?” Stuart was sitting in the kitchen when I eventually came back. He passed me a mug of freshly brewed tea. “I heard you all talking out there. I can’t believe it.”

“I know. Crazy.”

“All chopped up? What on earth made him do that?”

I shrugged.

“I don’t know. He just lost it, I think. I told you I heard them arguing that day.  He told the police he was sick of her sewing stuff everywhere – fed up with her spending so much time making clothes. He hated the mess.

“It sounds daft now, but when she went to visit her sister it seems he took all his frustration out on her mannequin. Broke it to pieces!”

Well, thank goodness it was just a mannequin he buried. Even if it was in several parts!

I gave a small smile.

“Yes – thank goodness.”

Stuart shook his head in disbelief.

“I don’t know why he just didn’t take it to the tip like most people would.”

“Mrs Granger had the car so he couldn’t get there. When he realised what he’d done, he panicked and wanted to hide it as quickly as possible. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him. He actually feels really bad about it all now – says he’ll buy her a new mannequin.”

I stifled a yawn and Stuart put his arm around me.

“Let’s get to bed. I think we’ve had enough excitement for one night.”

“You can say that again. I’ll stick to watching foxes in future.”

The following afternoon Mrs Granger pulled into their immaculately swept driveway.  She lifted her small suitcase from the boot, and then pulled out three carrier bags, all stuffed with newly bought material.

Catching sight of me in the front garden she smiled and said cheerily, “This will keep me busy for a while.”

“Looks like you’ve bought the whole shop,” I told her. She laughed then.

“Oh it’s not as bad as it looks. But first I need a cup of tea. I’m spitting feathers!”

The front door opened then. Mr Granger glanced at me then smiled at his wife, opening his arms wide for a hug.

“Welcome home, love. The kettle’s on.”

Mrs Granger returned his smile.

“Perfect! That’s just what I need. It’s so good to be home.”

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Georgia Grieve