A young girl crouched silently on smooth round stones at the edge of a rushing river. Tears ran undeterred down her soft cheeks as her eyes stared out blankly across the quickly moving expanse
of water. Behind her the insistent sound of an ambulance echoed through the heavy air. A crowd of people were gathered speaking in hushed voices glancing at a distraught family.
Breaking away from the sobbing couple a young woman walked over to where the young girl sat. Lowering herself down she placed a comforting a hand on the child’s shoulder. Pained golden brown
eyes flicked over to her making the woman shudder.
“Ciara, sweaty, your parents want to take you home now.” Ciara’s eyes darkened.
“No, I can’t! What about Mary,” Ciara cried.
“Ciara Mary…Mary’s gone, you saw…you know that,” the woman choked out.
“No! No!” Ciara screamed throwing her scratched arms around the woman’s neck. Automatically the woman wrapped her arms around the child’s shaking form and picked her up. “Mary! MARY!”
I shot upwards into a sitting position, chest heaving. My vision settled and I took in the familiar outlines of my room. The moonlight found its way around the edges of my curtains shinning onto my
sweaty face. A sleepy moan sounded from beside me, I looked over at the lumpy shape that had made it and straight into concerned dark brown eyes. My fiancé yawned and blinked a few times before
focusing back on my face.
“Ciara, did you have another nightmare?” he asked worriedly sitting up as well. I immediately leaned into his side and rested my head on his shoulder. He reacted by placing a reassuring arm around
“Was it…was it about your…sister?” I tensed pulling away from him. I searched his face frowning.
“James…I never…how did you?”
“I found a picture of you and her, so I asked you mum who she was,” James replied hesitantly. “Why did you never tell me?” Sighing I scooted back over to him.
“I’ve tried to forget. Not her exactly, just how we lost her. I don’t really have all that many memories of her anyway,” I explained softly.
“That can’t be good Ciara, you need to talk about these things,” he responded troubled.
“It was twenty years ago,” I argued.
“And you’re still have nightmares,” he pointed out.
“I’m fine, really! It’s just, it’s nearing her anniversary,” I whispered.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“Not really,” I chuckled without humour.
“Please. We’re going to be married in a few months, couples tell each other things like this.”
“You’re using the marriage card on me, no fair,” I whined giving him a half-hearted slap on the chest.
“Of cause, I’ve got to use what I got,” he smiled. “So am I going to find out?” I gave a small nod, my mouth turning dry. Swallowing to moisten my throat I manoeuvred myself into his lap. The dark
room melted away and I felt myself travelling back to the time of my dream.
“It was a hot day so we’d gone to the river but it was pretty crowded so we went downstream a bit. M-Mary and I were playing on a large flat rock when it happened…
I shrieked as a splash of cold water hit me. Spinning around on the warm rock I glared at my grinning father who was treading water a metre away. I stomped over to the rocks edge with my hands
on my hips.
“Not funny daddy,” I pouted.
“Yeah, not funny.” A small voice spoke up behind me. Suddenly from the corner of my eye a head of flaming red hair at shoulder height appeared. It was my younger sister Mary and she was backing
me up, with her bright blue eyes glaring at our father.
“No fair two on one,” he joked making us both giggle and forget why we were angry.
“But your bigger daddy so it is,” I replied.
“Is it?” I nodded energetically in response. “Well you’re pretty big yourself how about you jump in hear and show me Miss Eight Year Old.” Looking down at the fast moving dark blue water unable
to see the sandy bottom I gulped.
“Is it cold?” I asked. My daddy shook his head.
“It’s refreshing,” he said.
“Mummy says that’s just another way to say cold,” I told him.
“Oh does she?”
“Yup!” I countered jumping up and down to prove my point. Slipping on the wet surface I stumbled backwards. My legs connected with something soft and I fell backward. Screaming I hit the water
and tumbled around. Thrashing around in panic I struggled to get to the surface. My head suddenly broke through and I gulped in air. But I couldn’t take in anything before I was pulled back under.
My heart was pounding as my limbs thrashed.
Pain shot up my arm as it was dragged along a hidden rock. Just after my other arm was struck by a thin broken branch. Just as I started to go light headed strong hands grabbed my waist and I
was pulled up and out of the water. Coughing and spluttering I looked around frantically before calming at the sight of my father. Shaking I was handed to my trembling mother who was standing on
the bank nearby.
“John where’s Mary?” I heard my mother ask anxiously.
“She…she got swept…”
“I found her!” I heard my uncle yell. “She’s not breathing someone ring for an ambulance!”
…They got there too late, she couldn’t be saved,” I finished. James was silent tightening his hold around me. I turned my face into his warm chest.
“I’m…Ciara I’m so sorry,” he whispered.
“It’s okay…it was a long time ago,” I answered. We both went quiet, as we were lost to our thoughts. I felt James tense slightly before feeling his gaze on the top of my head.
“You…you don’t blame yourself…do you?” he inquired tentatively. A tear escaped my eye and fell down my cheek. It caught the limited light that the moon offered and shinned silver before James
tenderly wiped it away.
“It’s.” Swallow. Pause. “I’ve always wondered why dad got to me first and not her.” Blinking back tears. “I mean I pushed her in.” James went to interrupt but I continued on. “I just, I’ve always
wanted to ask her if she could ever forgive me? If her death was as painful as being left behind without her? They’re questions that will never be answered…Mysteries that only she can solve.”
“I’m sure she would forgive you but, no one knows the answer to the second,” he responded.
“Thanks for letting…well forcing me to get this off my chest. It does kind of help.” Yawn. “And I’m tired now. Nightmares don’t really let you rest.”
“Right, goodnight and have the sweet dreams you deserve,” he smiled giving my forehead a soothing kiss. We both lied back down and I rested my head on his shoulder and he stroked my hair
affectionately. My eyelids turned heavy and I drifted to sleep.
Looking around myself I took in the river stones, willow trees and foaming river. I numbly walked forward towards a large flat rock that was half in half out of the water. Reaching its edge I
sat down, dangling my bare feet into the biting cold water.
“I miss you Mary,” I sighed.
“I miss you too.” Startled I jumped and twisted. My eyes widened, taking in a young girl. She looked to be about six with vibrant wavy hair and calm blue eyes.
“M-Mar-Mary,” I stuttered as she skipped over to sit next to me. She wrapped her slim arms around my neck smiling. I returned it stiffly, tears overflowing down my cheeks. Pulling back she
frowned at me.
“Ra Ra what’s wrong?” she asked. At the sound of her old nick name for me I broke down.
“Mary, oh Mary I’m so so sorry. It was all my fault! I’m the reason you’re dead,” I added miserably. I was surprised when she giggled.
“Oh Ra Ra you silly, whatever made you think that. It wasn’t your fault; it could never had been your fault. I was already leaning toward the water when you hit into me and you wouldn’t have
fallen in at all if I hadn’t grabbed your leg.”
“What? You didn’t grab…did you?” She smiled and nodded.
“Uh huh, but I know you need to hear this. I forgive you, really I was never angry with you, I watched you cry yourself to sleep for two years over me. It made it pretty hard to angry at
“You watched me?”
“Of cause. What else was I meant to do? Now onto your next question, it didn’t hurt. When I fell I hit my head on a jut out of the rock and lost consciousness. I didn’t feel a thing Ciara so
stop beating yourself up.” My trembling lips turned up at the corners as I pulled her into a fierce hug. “It’s ok, I love you, you’re forgiven and I did not suffer. Mystery solved Ciara.”
“Thank-you, thank-you,” I murmured.
As the sun rose in the east the following morning I announced to James the I wanted to go for a swim at the river. For the first time in twenty years.
A/N: Ok well This is sort of for a challenge where the genre is mystery…and this isn’t really a mystery…but I’m not good at mystery so this is the best I could do! Hope you enjoyed!
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