Where's Jane?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A moment of peace leads to a moment of panic.

Submitted: November 18, 2018

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Submitted: November 18, 2018

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Where’s Jane.

Margaret had not felt like walking along the coast road to the few shops that clustered together. About a half hour round trip would give her a chance to get the place in some kind of order while Bob and the kids went without her. Besides, she knew her presence just brought them down, made them on their best behaviour. It was a trip to help her to recuperate but it wasn’t turning out that way; she was just becoming more and more conscious of how being around her made the other three feel.

As they walked away she could already hear her son laughing, followed by the giggling of little Leah. At five and seven they needed to laugh, and she knew that Bob could easily accomplish that. He’d always had that ease around the kids, could make himself act like one of them but still slip into the role of authority should it be needed.

Margaret picked up a few scattered toys, folded up the children’s clothes, but the sea was calling to her. She’d just go out and walk along by the water’s edge, just for a few minutes. The rolling in and out of the waves was kind of soothing, and the sea air had a pureness about it, even if it was only one that she imagined.

The walk made her feel a bit better so she sat out on the wall and kicked her heels as she remembered doing when she was so much younger. Maybe the depression was beginning to clear, and perhaps the Atlantic wind would blow away the remnants.

It wasn’t long before she heard Peter’s laughter and Bob’s answering chuckle, and just after that she caught a glimpse of them. She lifted a hand to wave, a smile on her face, but that smile soon turned in to a frown.

Where’s Jane?” Margaret startled them as she dashed towards them, she could see that, but there was no sign of her daughter and she was frantic.

Jane? She’s....” Bob turned, looked behind himself, behind and beside Peter. The color drained from his face. “She was there, following us....I know she was. Peter, where’s your sister?”

I don’t know, Dad. I thought she was with us just like you did.” Seven years old, is still young enough for a boy to cry in confusion, and to Peter’s horror he felt his lips begin to quiver.

Margaret waited no longer but started to run towards the shops. She had open sandals on that slowed her down but she could not spare the time to change them. Who knew what might have happened to her little girl by now.

Bob and Peter ran alongside her. “It’ll be okay, Margaret. Don’t cry.”

At those words of her husband’s Margaret realized that tears were running down her cheeks; tears of anger that Bob and Peter could have left Jane, but most of all tears of fear.

There were not many people around. It was late in the holiday season and the majority of the caravans and chalets were empty. But there were some like themselves who preferred the quieter beaches rather than playing sardines on the sand. And there were day-trippers too, driving along, giving the three running figures curious stares.

Several times Margaret felt herself tripping but managed to right herself, to stay on her feet. She could not waste time in falling over. Bob could have easily out-run her but stayed with her and Peter was right behind them too. She could hear the slapping of his plimsolls

on the pavement.

The shops were coming in to view. “Where did you go, Bob?” Margaret gasped out. It was a long time since she had run so far.

Even in her panic she noticed that her husband was out of breath too. “Just the sweet shop,” he said, and before he had finished talking the woman that had served them poked her head out of the door.

The woman disappeared back into the shop for a second and then there was Jane, sticky with toffee, eyes red where she had been crying. Margaret rushed forward and picked her daughter up, enveloping her in a big hug. She bit back the scolding words she wanted to say, instead turning to the woman now smiling inside the shop and said, “Thank you so much!”

Bob hugged both Margaret and Jane, then reached out to include Peter. “Let me pay for anything she’s had. That’s the least I can do.”

No, no, that’s okay. And don’t worry, or blame yourself. It’s amazing how often the exact same thing happens year after year. I’ve never once known it not to end well.”

Thank you,” Bob said, still feeling guilty that he and Peter had not even noticed that Jane had been absent. “Come on then, you lot, go and make your choices. We’ll have a sweet celebration. Go on, Margaret, you too.”

Margaret asked the woman quietly, “Was that true, what you said? How it happens so often?”

Absolutely,” the woman said. “Just forgive, maybe not forget. There’s no harm done after all.”

As the family walked back to their holiday chalet, a big bag of sweets carried between them, they talked and they laughed together. Even young Jane was giggling about her adventure in the sweet shop. It was a moment that they would each remember in their own ways, but it was not a moment that would tear them all apart.


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