Mrs Reynolds had no memory of where she came from or where she was going. Her only thought was: 'I want to go home.'
Tired from walking, she looked around for somewhere to sit and saw a bus shelter not too much further down the road. Sitting in the shelter felt familiar and Mrs Reynolds was certain this was the way home. She searched in her purse for money to pay for a ticket. There was a five dollar note, which would surely be enough.
Before long, the bus arrived and Mrs Reynolds smiled at the driver when he asked her where she wanted to go. 'To the end of the line. How much will that be?'
'Three dollars and forty cents, please,' said the driver, then gave her the change and the ticket.
The journey took over an hour, but she enjoyed the sights, which became increasingly familiar as time passed. When they finally arrived at the Oakleigh railway station, she was sure that home was now very close. The shops lining the main street seemed to welcome her, as did the scent of coffee and freshly baked cakes from the Greek cafe on the corner. Stopping for a moment, Mrs Reynolds wondered if there was enough money left to pay for some, but no, there was only the one dollar and sixty cents left in her purse.
'Well, never mind,' she murmured to herself, 'when I get home, I'll make myself a lovely cup of tea, and I'm sure there are still some scones left over from the batch I made yesterday.'
Mrs Reynolds walked slowly along Portman Street, taking pleasure in seeing the people doing their shopping; just as she had done for the past sixty-two years, ever since she and her husband first moved to Oakleigh. Eventually, after what seemed a very long time, she reached her house: Number One, John Street, just in from the corner of Atherton Road. It looked as pretty as ever, with its low front fence, small garden and neat verandah. There was one thing that puzzled her though: the colours didn't seem quite right. Perhaps her husband, Alan, had painted it while she was out? No, that was impossible! Perhaps it was just the late afternoon light that made the colour look so different...
Mrs Reynolds felt in her handbag for the door keys, and when she couldn't find them began to panic. 'No! I couldn't have lost them! I had them only this morning, before I went out. Where could I have dropped them? On the bus?' She leaned against the gate post for a moment, trying to think, and then remembered she always kept a copy of her keys in a small, hidden place at the side of the house.
Opening the gate felt right. It still squeaked ever so slightly, and the short grass of the lawn felt lovely beneath her feet. She soon found her hiding place and carefully bent over to look for the keys, but they weren't there. Straightening up, Mrs Reynolds noticed a light in the kitchen window. Alan was home! Thank goodness! Sighing with relief, she went to the front door and knocked. 'He'll say I'm an old fool,' she thought, smiling to herself.
The door opened and a young man stood there: this wasn't her Alan. 'Hello,' he said. 'What can I do for you?'
'I've lost my keys, otherwise I wouldn't have knocked on the door. Are you a friend of my husband's?' Mrs Reynolds wondered why the young man didn't stand aside to let her in. After all, this was her house.
'I'm sorry; I don't know who you are, or who your husband is. Are you sure you're alright? Do you want to come in and have a cup of tea while we sort this out?'
'But I live here!' replied Mrs Reynolds, becoming a little angry. What was this young man doing offering her tea in her own house?
'I see. Well, I don't want to upset you, but maybe it's best if you come inside so we can talk about this. Do you know the way to the kitchen? You do? That's great. Just take it slowly, that's right. Mind the step.'
As she sat in the unfamiliar kitchen, Mrs Reynolds looked into the face of the young man and said, 'Do you think you could take me home now? It's getting late. Alan will be missing me. He worries if I don't get home before dark.'