Erica leaned over the railing, puffing on her fag. The weather wasn’t great, and not many tourists strolled along the prom, away beyond the dunes that separated the line of beach huts from the rest of the resort. The beach in front was equally empty. She flicked the butt into the sand and opened the back door into her shed.
There was nobody waiting for a reading when she emerged from behind the heavy, brocade curtains to take her seat in the window. Rain pattered on the glass. Erica fiddled with the heavy gold rings she wore for show on every finger. Her hair itched under the lace scarf. She pulled it and the fake black wig off to scratch the itch. People liked the long dark hair and scarves; it had that ‘ethnic’ look they thought ‘gypsies’ should have, as inaccurate, and immensely racist, as that image was.
A long slow afternoon ended with a tap on the door as she was changing into her jeans and hoody to walk home. She ignored the tap.
Another tap jolted through the building as she unlocked the back door. Thankful that the rain had stopped, she unlocked the back door. The tapping became more insistent as she pushed the door open.
“Too bloody late, pal. It’s home time.” She muttered to herself. If they were that interested in a reading they’d come back tomorrow. Walking away from the back of the hut, along the sandy footpath to the end of the row of the painted beach huts. They all housed summer businesses now, but this early in the season they were shut. She took a quick look to see if her knocker was there.
She shrugged; they must have left. Walking across the dunes to the promenade, she looked about for her erstwhile customer. Despite the clear evening there was no one around.
“Heh. Must have gone to the beach.”
The March weather wasn’t exactly the sort for skinny dipping.
“Erica.” A voice roughened and low pitched, floated over the dunes from the direction of the huts.
Erica turned in the direction of the voice, searching for it’s source. No one was there. Erica shrugged and carried on walking. Trick of the wind.
Reaching the prom and its bus stop Erica was distracted by a poster for a new Tom Hiddleston film, forgetting the strange voice and persistent knocking.
Wednesday in the hut went much as Tuesday did. Quiet, raining on and off, no customers. Until the end of the day, as she was changing out of her costume.
“I said, we’re closed.”
“Oh for crying out loud.”
Erica pulled her coat on, zipping it up. She pushed open the back door and left. The customer still persistently knocking. Locking up, she slipped between the hut and its neighbour. She could hear the knocking still, Really, this customer didn’t get the message at all.
“Hey! I told you. We’re closed.”
There was no one there.