The Wife's House - Arianne Richmonde Page 0,1

my neck and followed the drone with my eyes, it disappeared behind the trees, towards Highway One.

The sudden buzz of my cell phone made me jump. I whipped it out from my jacket pocket, and the rush of adrenaline, when I read the anonymous text, jolted me further out of my skin.


My pulse picked up. A coincidence that this text came seconds after I’d spotted the drone? No, that drone was spying on me. Spying on my house, my garden.

My woods.

I’d call the police. Could they trace an anonymous text? No, I’d get a pistol and shoot the drone down. Drive into Monterey, to the gun store. Buy something small and discreet. And yet I had no idea how to use a firearm. Where I came from, no law-abiding citizens had guns, unless they hunted pheasant or were members of a shooting club. And I needed to be careful. Since my husband’s death, I’d been making foolish decisions. Buying stuff I didn’t need, not being able to follow my instincts, losing and misplacing things, my brain scatty and unfocused. I couldn’t rely on myself to do the right thing. It’s a strange feeling when you can’t trust your intuition anymore. I was a cat without whiskers, a black sky without stars.

I wanted to call Juan and ask his advice. That had happened a lot lately. I couldn’t accept he was dead. Kept thinking he’d stride through the front door any moment. The man who had an answer to everything.

I stuck the phone back in my jacket pocket and tightened my pink silk scarf around my neck. I had read somewhere that pink makes people like you more, so I had taken to wearing a lot of pink since I’d been grieving. Every smile counted, every kind human connection, even from strangers.

As I began my hike back home, determination fueling my resolve to buy a gun and shoot that drone down, I spotted a lovely family with their baby on the beach—the baby in one of those carriers on her dad’s back, giggling with joy. They would have hiked to get down here, as there was no access by car. Busy with their baby, they were definitely not the drone operators. My heart ached to see such happiness.

I could have had a family like that if it had all worked out.

I had considered going to visit my parents and friends back home in England, but I couldn’t face them all feeling sorry for me. That soulful, big-eyed, “Are you all right” look. The look that isn’t even accompanied by words but just says it all. Besides, Big Sur was my home; I found it hard to imagine life back in Britain, even for just a visit. Who wouldn’t want to live here, so at one with nature? It just might be the most stunning, unspoiled coastline in the world. California was home. I may not have lost my accent, but I was integrated here.

And Cliffside was my last link to Juan. I would never leave.

I would never leave my house.


I raced back, peeled off my hiking clothes, took a quick shower and changed into a pink cashmere sweater and some jeans and loafers. Got in my Land Rover and set off to Carmel-by-the-Sea, my local town, a good forty-five-minute drive along the winding Pacific Coast Highway.

People didn’t live along this coast for convenience, that’s for sure. Whole Foods was over an hour away. We residents learned to stock up our freezers and we all had generators, just in case. Living here wasn’t for sissies, however much money you had. And now with my husband gone, I craved company. Neighbors were dotted here and there, but even along this fifty-mile stretch of coast, there weren’t more than five hundred residents in all. Carmel was the nearest hub of activity—great for people-watching. Family-watching. Something I knew would calm my nerves before I braved it into the gun store in Monterey. Yet the idea of owning a weapon terrified me. Shouldn’t I learn to shoot first? Under supervision? Or just get the damn thing? What if having a gun was more dangerous than not having one? If I didn’t know what I was doing, someone could snatch it clean from my hands and use it against me. The drone operator, for instance. The thought of having a loaded weapon in my home made my stomach fold over. But if not loaded at all times, at all hours, what was the point