That day would have been a good one if Olivia had not slipped on the stairs. Christopher had finished work early for once, instead of talking himself into finishing one last stack of paperwork before calling it a day. The bus had arrived on time, the noisy school children had actually appeared docile and normal for once, the weather was pleasant. When Christopher arrived at the house his keys appeared to jump into his hand instead of eluding him and the key had turned perfectly in the lock, instead of sticking slightly until he thought it would snap. It had been one of the few occasions that he had not brought back an armful of extra paperwork to finish, so he was able to open the door easily, instead of having to shunt at it until it edged open.
Thinking back, Christopher was sure he hadn't seen her as soon as he opened the door. Not even a glimpse of her. He had been too occupied with shucking the coat off of his shoulders and hanging it up. But when he turned he saw her. His stomach seemed to flop like a fish and an overwhelming gush of nausea overtook him. No blood, just Olivia lying on her back at the foot of the stairs. But her neck was bent unnaturally, and her arms and legs were splayed to a jumping jack position. He had known instantly that she was dead, but he had run to her after the initial frozen pause. She was cold to the touch and her usually pale skin appeared somewhat translucent.
Christopher couldn't remember calling the emergency services, but they arrived and asked him innumerable questions until his head span and his restraint broke and tears came. They backed off then and left Christopher to start to grieve. He was thankful that, in the days afterwards, Olivia's family took up responsibility for the funeral arrangements. At that time, Christopher had experienced a range of emotions, mostly of a depressive nature.
Now, Christopher felt nothing. He was a numb sack of flesh and bones. He stood on the landing, thinking. Jack's insensitive questions had paralysed him at the kitchen table for a long while, maybe two hours. When he eventually felt the fog rising from him he only knew that he wanted to be upstairs. As he stood on the landing, he thought of Jack's talk of spirits and ghosts. Christopher only believed in solid knowledge. If proof could be found that ghosts existed, he would believe in them. But it didn't, so they didn't either. Yet he did know that such an eerie feeling had filled the house since Olivia's death. And, so, with something akin to trepidation, Christopher stood on the landing and attempted to discover something, anything.
'Olivia?' he called softly. Nothing. No ghostly reply from the beyond. Olivia did not appear before him as an opaque spectre. Such a great sense of loss erupted in Christopher's body that he realised he had actually hoped that she would contact him. He hung his head and exhaled slowly. As he went to return to the kitchen he heard a noise emanate from one of the rooms. He stopped and waited, his heartbeat rising from slow and steady to a rush. Again, the soft clacking noise sounded. Christopher's body felt rigid and he couldn't have moved a muscle even if forced, but he was able to source the sound to the spare room Olivia had claimed as her study. He crept forwards, both dreading and anticipating what he would discover on the other side of the door. He listened and recognised the sound as that of a person typing on a computer keyboard. The noise paused and then continued, undeterred. It was a material, real sound. Christopher licked his lips, gripped the door handle, turned it and in one fluid motion, opened the door. The room was empty.
He stepped into it, his heart sinking even further. He wanted to slap himself for being so desperate as to believe in Jack's ridiculous spirits. Christopher went and sat in the desk chair and looked about himself. He decided that it must have been pigeons on the roof or a branch tapping against the window, something mundane and not Olivia. Fat, slow tears began to work their way down his cheeks and he abandoned himself to yet more sorrow. As he felt a sob rise within him a sudden blast of noise caused him to jump up from his chair and listen. It had started with the toilet in the bedroom flushing, and then it was footsteps rushing down the landing and past the study door, which stood open. No visible person appeared in the doorway as the noise continued on. Christopher listened, consumed by an absolute fear, as he heard the bodiless footsteps reach the stairs. There was a horrendous crash, that of a person's headfirst descent down the stairs, and then there was silence.