“Hurry up,” said Sally. “They’ll be back any minute.”
“Keep your hair on, I’m almost done. It would be easier if we could have the light on.”
“They might see it. Anyway, this torch is pretty good.”
“OK. Just hold it still would you, I need to see what I’m doing here.” Mike’s fingers worked deftly in the circle of light. “There, all done. Take this please.” He passed a collection of objects to his sister; string, scissors, a pot of drawing pins.
His foot had barely reached the ground before Sally had taken the steps and was returning them to their place in the kitchen. She came back into the hall as the front gate squeaked. They looked at each other and ducked into the alcove under the stairs. Sally felt the excitement rising in her chest.
Footsteps approached up the garden path. A pause. She could imagine the gloved hand fumbling with the key. A moment later, she heard it turn in the lock and a draught of cold air told her the door was open. There was a click as the hall light was switched on, and then an audible gasp of surprise. Mike and Sally sprang from their hiding place into the astonished view of their parents.
“Happy anniversary!” they cried, echoing the words on the banners strung across the ceiling.