It did not seem at all strange to Bella that her and her brother walked through the wall in their grandparents hallway.
After all, it had happened in books and on TV, people walking through walls. So, why shouldn't it happen to her? She did ask her brother Billy to be quiet though when he was prattling away about how he was sure he could smell dog. It was perfectly acceptable that you could walk through walls to Bella but she knew, again from TV and books, that it was unacceptable to enter people's houses without their permission and they might get jolly upset if they found you.
'Tip toe', she instructed sternly as they stood in the new hallway.
They went into a bedroom; a Child's, for certain. There were teddy bears, trains, ('a boy!' whispered Bella to Billy), a little green pedal car.
A creak was heard as a door opened in the hallway.
Bella darted under the bed, taking Billy with her, though he was heading that way anyway.
A woman's feet, they knew because they were so small and covered in pink socks, could be seen wandering into the room and then leaving.
On hearing the creak of the door again, and presuming it to be shut, Bella climbed out from under the bed, Billy following. They crept out into the hallway and to the last door which Bella pulled ever so slightly ajar and peered through. There was an elderly man sitting at a wooden table drinking a glass of red wine and smoking. An elderly woman stood by the stove chopping. A child sat on the floor beside her playing with a toy car.
'Who are you?' a girl asked, slightly apprehensively. 'Are you spying?'
Bella turned round and saw the tiny girl, no older than 18, with a nose far too large for her face in a vest top and shorts, so skinny her shoulder blades and knees seemed like they were trying to burst out from her skin.
'Look', the girl whispered, gazing into both Billy and Bella's blue eyes, 'Go back to where you came from!'
'We...' Bella did not know what to say.
The woman's brown eyes were wide open. 'Go on!'
Bella began to cry. Billy followed her lead.
The elderly woman appeared, having heard the sobbing. 'What is going on here! These two little cherubs have invaded our home! You can't even leave the windows open to get some air in the summer without two scamps climbing in! Now, 'she said, turning to her daughter, 'what on earth did you say to her!'
'Mother! Nothing! She just knows she shouldn't be here.'
'Well,' said the woman, taking Bella and Billy by the hands, 'let's get some milk and some biscuits and all calm down.'
As Billy and Bella munched the biscuits and sipped the milk, in silence, the daughter looking over at them now and then, shaking her legs and scratching her head, the child came over to examine them.
'Dad!' cried Billy.
'Sssh' said the child's mother.
'What is it?' said the old man, looking up, being the only father in the room.
'Bella! He's got Dad's eyes! And nose! And Dad's curly blonde hair!'
The elderly woman stopped her chopping and came over to them, looking over at her daughter who was now bouncing up and down in her chair and rubbing her hands.
'Elliot looks like your father does he?'
'Yes! Like Daddy. Look, we all have the same eyes. But he had Daddies nose and hair. We've got Mummies.' He held a lock of his brown hair as an example and then pointed at his tiny nose.
'And where is your Daddy?' asked the elderly woman.
'Oh, I'm sorry.' She looked over at her daughter whose head dropped.
'It was Bella who found him dead', said Billy. 'He was hanging in the barn.'
Bella began to sob and Billy hugged her.
'Now, now' said the Grandmother. 'Your daddy is in heaven now, safe and sound.'
'Mummy says he's in hell. She told Granny after, said he was in hell for leaving his family like that. Coward she called him.'
Bella stopped her sobbing.
'It was mummy who made him do it,' said Bella 'She was going to leave him, take us with him cos of that girl she found in the bedroom.'
The elderly woman looked at her daughter whose hands were covering her face.
'And where do your family live?' asked the woman.
'In the house on the hill, Hill House'
But there was no Hill House in walking distance.
'How did you get here?'
'Through the wall', said Billy. 'Like how daddy got here to make Elliot. Or how Elliot's mummy came to us.'
'That's nonsense', said Elliot's mother. 'Such a thing is impossible.'
Billy went over and hugged Elliot. 'I always wanted a brother. Bella won't play cars and dolls is so boring.'
The woman ran over and separated them.
'Get out of here you two,' she barked. 'Coming here and going on about your daddy and a wall, what a lot of shit. Now go on, get out.'
'Mind your language around them! They are children!' roared the father. 'And, yes the wall, a lot of nonsense, but the Father? Well, you've never told us who he was. Why couldn't it be their father? They must be from around here.'
'I couldn't tell you! God knows what you would have done,' said the girl.
'I'd have murdered him', shouted her father. 'The pervert! You were fourteen!'
The woman glared at Bella.
Bella took Billy by the hand and ran out into the hallway.
'Go out the door, not the window!' called the old man after them.
When they did not come back, he went after them, followed by his wife, daughter and Grand-son but Bella and Billy had already gone. They looked in every room, in every cupboard, under every bed. In Elliot's bedroom there was an open window.
'Must have been', said the Grandfather, pointing it out.
'Must have been', said the Daughter, standing out in the hallway, brushing her hands over the wall.