As night fell, I knew I needed to take the dog for one last walk of the day. I’d had such a wonderful day, family had visited, we’d had a barbeque and some drinks. The weather perfect for socialising, and I don’t recall anyone being bitten by the gnats flying around us. One of us usually does.
I said goodbye to Matt my boyfriend – I always felt strange calling him my boyfriend being 25, but I’d gotten used to it by now. William – my golden Labrador waited by the door for me; he didn’t look overly enthusiastic, he looked as I felt. Leaving the house we walked towards the fields behind our house, every night I did this walk; nothing ever changed. I knew it like the back of my hand.
Up ahead I could see a small figure standing alone, their back was facing me; I slowed my pace. Waited for the person to turn and face me, I would soon know who stood in front of me – we knew everyone. As I moved closer they remained still looking into the distance, I could see it was a child-like figure. William made a noise; I’m sure he felt uneasy too. His slight bark made the person jump; they turned to face me – a little girl.
She looked towards me, though not at me. She looked confused; I stepped a little closer, William pulled back against my steps.
“Hello, are you okay?” I whispered, looking for her guardian someone who knew her.
“I want my Mummy, I want my Daddy. Take me please.” She replied, strong and clear, still not making eye contact. I’m a stranger I guess.
“Where are they? What’s your name?” Really hoped she had a rough idea of who she was.
“I want my Mummy, I want my Daddy. Take me please.”
She turned and started to walk. For some reason I looked down at William, I knew in his own way he wanted to tell me not to go. Dogs know more than they let on. I gently tugged on his lead to follow the girl; I needed to return her to her parents.
The little girl walked a little way ahead from us, I tried to catch up closer, but she liked to keep her distance. We left the fields and had now started to walk along a dark main road, but still light enough to see where we were walking.
It wasn’t far, it began to rain. I probably should have turned or phoned the police but this girl seemed to trust me enough to let me take her home. However we had walked quite far from where I had come across her, can’t be far now. We crossed the road and she made her way into another field, I gripped on tight to William, mainly for comfort for me. The rain came down heavy it was more of a storm than a drizzle. How much the weather had changed from as little as thirty minutes ago. Local folklore had once said the field had been a burial ground. It was to return as one soon too
The girl carried on for a short while, it really wasn’t long until I noticed up a head a blossom tree the biggest I had seen in a while. Nearby there were what looked like rocks, some were darker than others some slightly lit. Squinting my eyes a little, I could see figures under the tree. William and I paused.
“I want my Mummy, I want my Daddy. Take me please.”
I wasn’t sure; I really didn’t like this one bit. Now I felt scared, I placed my hand over my jeans pocket, making doubly sure that I hadn’t dropped my phone. Rain trickled down my hair, I could barely see. I walked closer to the figures. The little girl repeated her words.
“I want my Mummy, I want my Daddy. I want a cuddle.”
There were two people huddled on the ground, holding each other tightly; I took a deep breath and brushed my hand onto shoulders of one of them. It startled them, making me jump and William bark. The couple jumped to their feet in fear.
“It’s okay, it’s okay. I don’t mean to scare you, but I’ve brought your daughter to you. She was back on the estate. Luckily I did you’d have frozen to your…”
“Is this a joke?” The man, not much taller than me moved fast towards me. William wasn’t happy. The woman next to the man held him back.
“Joke? I don’t see anything funny; I brought your lost daughter here. Now I am going home.” That’s gratitude for you, I thought to myself as I turned to leave.
“You can see her?” The woman replied to me, I could hear the cold and wet sound in her voice.
“Of course, she led me here.” This was getting silly.
“But she is already here, you stupid woman!” the man, became rude again, but moved his hand and body in a way in which he could show me something. I had to step forward to see properly, William still in my grasp.
Much loved daughter, granddaughter
Written on a tiny cross, not quite ready for a stone.
Matt and my father had buried her yesterday, as funeral directors I recall Matt saying it was the saddest day he’d ever done. Her death shook our town, sudden and unexplained. No closure for anyone.
“Your daughter knew you were here, she knew you’d get cold.” I tried desperately not to cry, or show just how scared I felt. There have been far too many strange things recently, this being top of the list.
“Thank you.” The woman touched my hand, the pain in her eyes was unbearable; something I’ll not forget. The way the man stood, like he had the heaviest weight on his shoulders. Neither expression I will forget.
I just wish I really could have returned her child.