The whole business was a terrible shame and, if only you’d listened to me, things needn’t have turned out like this. Had you just stayed calm and not bolted out of the car like a fucking dog, I could have explained everything to you. You could have avoided it. That pencil-thin rind taking shape in the frail, backward light of the winter afternoon. You just had to be patient, to wait until it passed to the other side.

Had you not acted so rashly, I could have described what was happening. That the thing watching us from the undergrowth was changing. I would have explained that it was unfurling, like some grotesque flag in the breeze. That it was watching you with protuberant eyes swelling out of it’s sockets, waiting for you to make a move. If only you hadn’t made such a fuss about me locking the car door, maybe everything would have been ok. You’d have understood that, if you ran, it would follow you.

If you hadn’t put yourself in danger like that, I wouldn’t have had to drive half way across Losswick looking for you. You wouldn’t tripped and grazed your palms, blood spilling on the cracked concrete. If you hadn’t tried to hide around the back of the high street, I could have found you sooner. You wouldn’t have needed to stay under the blanket on the back seat in case it spotted you again.

You could have just said you didn’t want to come back to mine, that you felt we’d be safer elsewhere and I would have suggested we could to Cafe Nero instead. I’d have bought you a hot chocolate, if you’d told me you wanted one, something sweet to comfort you while we waited for the thing to pass. However, had you been thinking straight, you’d have remembered that Cafe Nero closes at 5pm on Sunday, but instead you decided to try and run.

If you had asked me a question or two about myself, instead of creating such a fuss, you’d have found out that my house was a safe place to hide from malefic beings. I’d have described it as an impenetrable pebble dash fortress — no doors, no windows. You’d have recognised it when we got there, the one with the faded Union Jack and the overgrown front garden.

Had you given me half a chance to straighten the place out, you wouldn’t have had to pick your way through discarded shoes and cat shit before getting into the sitting room. There you would have seen dust covered shelves, brown damp patches on the ceiling. We don’t have much time to look after the place these days. If you’d have asked me if I was married, it wouldn’t have been such a shock to my wife sitting inert in her chair, staring at a television programme that never ends. If only I’d had time to introduce you, to tell her you were the friend from work she’d heard so much about, she might not have screamed at the sight of you. She might not have alerted that awful creature to your whereabouts, its jowls dragging over the weeds at such an alarming pace. Had my wife not opened her puckered mouth, I wouldn’t have had to put you in the cupboard where we keep the boiler. If I hadn’t been so scared you’d try and run again, I wouldn’t have had to padlock the door. If only you hadn’t riled it up. It’s still out there now.

We all agreed you could have helped yourself. Yes, It’s a terrible shame really, but I don’t think anyone would blame me for what happened. In fact, you could say that, had you known there was something out there, waiting for you in the low hanging drizzle of that winter afternoon, you might not have found me so frightening after all.