She entered a cold, dark but generously furnished room. Edna spared no expense for her guests since her husband had left her very much provided for. A double bed for each of her three bedrooms, thick shag pile carpeting, Gabbeh rugs, acanthus lincrusta wallpaper and pitch pine double wardrobes.
The window was half open as always and the light had been turned off. Mr Dresner, it seemed, had an aversion to any form of light and quite possibly owned a severe case of hyperthermia. He stood motionless before the window, as was his wont. This was a custom he had upheld since his arrival at the guest house. Quiet but courteous was his way, but this was not even half way towards meeting Edna's needs. She was a people person, and Mr Dresner was currently the closest thing she had to instant human interaction. Edna needed to talk.
He stood with his right palm resting upon the top of his left hand. This was another custom of his. Edna had spent the better part of three weeks learning his habits simply because she needed a project, something to take her mind away from the lacerations that had been left in the world. She had subtly interrogated and remained observant and, in doing so, had ascertained the following:
- He was a retired accountant and also a widower.
- He had a daughter with whom he had not spoken for nearly twenty years. He was in the process of finding her.
- He would come down to breakfast at 9am and dinner at 6pm whereupon he would mostly eat silently, speaking only when spoken to. His answers were succinct and were delivered calmly and congenially.
- He had a poor appetite, leaving at least a quarter of what was given to him each time.
- He seemed persistently distracted and his brow was consistently beaded with sweat. He checked his watch regularly and his eyes were forever flitting from left to right. As a result he seldom smiled, but when he did she felt it was genuine.
- He left the house each night at 10pm to "take the air".
- He was left handed, owned three suits, disliked dogs and parsnips and was completely bald by the time he had reached the age of thirty.
Aside from these facts and minor deductions Edna knew little more about her inhibited but nevertheless oddly pleasant guest.
The first thing she wanted to do after setting the tea tray down upon the bedside table was to close the window. She wrapped her arms tightly around her waist, inhaled a winter's breath and thawed it in her lungs before releasing a vaporous stream back into the air. Mr Dresner appeared, as always, fixed to the vista beyond, watching, listening or whatever it was he did. Only once had he turned his head slightly to hear her enter the room before returning his attentions to the surrounding forest and the distant but discernible glow, the corona of which roofed the woods and spat shards of light from within. The unsettling and unending synthetic sun still managed to cast its apocalyptic saffron blaze over the horizon, smearing the line and raping nature until everything that once was beautiful seemed now so false and trifling; they were mere aimless wanderers amidst darker climes. London had been razed to the ground...