Copyright© 2011 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.
Worried almost to the point of sickness, I reached for my Blackberry and realised I’d come out in such a rush, I’d left it behind on the bedside table. My heart sank.
I looked at the three tracks in front of me—she could have taken any of them. Surely, she couldn’t know this woodland, could she? If so how? There was the odd bit of dog poo about, perhaps Tom walks Kiki down this way occasionally.
The trees were just starting to burst into life, with buds splitting open to reveal the greenery inside. The grass looked so green as well, which considering how little rain we’d had, surprised me. I was protected somewhat from the wind, but there was a definite chill in the air from the lack of sunshine. I shivered but refused to admit it was because the place felt creepy.
Let’s face it, I’ve spent hundreds of hours in woodland at all times of day and night and have rarely felt spooked before, so I wasn’t going to let my imagination get to me today.
I looked around, the bird song had fallen silent. Okay, this happens when there’s a predator about, especially a sparrow hawk or peregrine. But the sudden quietness did little to bolster my anxiety. I felt a need to fight back.
“If anything has happened to my daughter in these woods, I’ll be back with a chainsaw and clear fell everything here.” The sky seemed to darken and I shrugged—what an ass I was making of myself, to a couple of wood mice and the odd weasel.
I remembered my pursuit, where was Trish and how could I find her? The three paths seemed just as unhelpful as before—which one? I closed my eyes and was almost doing a ‘one potato, two potato...’ when I saw a blue light in my mind’s eye, it led straight ahead. Caring less about my wheels and tyres than the time lag in catching up with Trish, I mounted the bike and began to pedal along the track.
It continued to feel as if every tree hid a pair of eyes who were staring at me with malice, something I’d never experienced before, and the birdsong still stayed silent—that was weird, really weird.
I followed the path which widened out into a glade convinced I was on Trish’s path, although until then I couldn’t risk closing my eyes or I’d have crashed into a tree or fallen over roots. The blue light led me ahead.
The sky darkened some more and suddenly I was aware of the pattering of raindrops—rather large raindrops, and a rumble of thunder rolled overhead, then a flash of lightning. Just what I needed. In minutes the path became a morass and I felt the bike slip beneath me and before I could slip a foot clear I was down in the mud feeling its coldness on my legs and squishing up my back.
My anxiety was now one of extreme anger. If Trish was before me now, I wouldn’t smack her bottom, I’d knock her head clean off her little shoulders. I wriggled free of the bike and eventually managed to stand up, which was easier said than done. I was covered in mud and so was the bike. I was surprised there wasn’t steam rising off me I felt so angry.
I picked up the bike and nearly fell again, before making my way on the soggy grass, walking I hoped somewhere towards the direction of home. Some ten minutes later I recognised where I was, five minute’s walk from home and was rarely more glad to see it.
Back in the yard, I hosed the bike down and then did the same to myself, washing some of the mud off my clothing. I was soaked anyway and I was also very cold. I put the bike into the garage and noticed Trish’s bike back on the stand—the little minx was home, so she did know the way. I felt so angry that if I saw her now, she’d be in real danger from me—I needed to calm down and then kill her—it would be more enjoyable.
I locked the garage and took the key back into the house and placed it where little hands wouldn’t be able to reach it. Then after dumping my shoes and socks in the utility room, I padded barefoot up to my bedroom.
As I walked into the bedroom, Simon snorted and was about to say something when my look cut him dead. I pushed past him into the en suite and slammed the door shut. After disrobing I ran the shower and stepped into it. Once I’d got over the shock of what felt like boiling water on my icy cold skin, I actually began to enjoy its soothing properties.
It took me a good fifteen minutes to rid myself of the mud and associated muck. To my annoyance, I discovered I’d skinned the one knee and hand and had a hole in my tights—they were good ones too. My jacket had a couple of minor tears and a small hole at the elbow, which explained the bruise I had emerging on the same elbow.
I swilled the clothes under the shower and wasn’t surprised at how much mud there had been on them despite the hosing down in the yard. I left them soaking in the bath.
I dried myself and pulled my still damp hair into a ponytail, then re-entered the bedroom and pulled on some panties and a bra. Simon was sitting on the bed.
“Okay, what happened?”
“I saw Trish go off on her bike so I dressed and went off after her. I caught up with her and tried to explain what risk she was running.”
“And, don’t tell me you got attacked by a mud skipper?” he laughed.
“Don’t be so stupid, they only live in Africa.”
“Funny, you bore an uncanny resemblance to one,” he laughed again and I burst into tears.
“It’s not funny,” I sobbed and a few moments I felt him take me in his arms.
“So how come she came home dry and you came home looking like a half drowned earthworm?”
I wiped my nose on my hand and took a deep breath, “I was trying to reason with her about some of the strange people there might be about if she was on her own and she had an answer for all of it.”
“That’s our Trish, little madam. So then what?”
“She went off road and down into a patch of woodland. Of course the paths are so dry I couldn’t find any trail to follow and just went on guesswork, then the heavens opened and I came off on the muddy path. I had to walk home.”
“Oh dear, have you seen her yet?”
“No, and I don’t want to until I’ve had something to eat and cup of tea—then I shall talk rationally with her.”
“Oh good,” he smiled at me.
“Then I’m going to rip her liver out and eat it.”
“Cathy, calm down—just listen to yourself.”
I burst into tears again. He hugged me some more and then seemed to assert himself.
“I’ll deal with this, you, stay here and don’t move—and I mean it, missus.”
I sat on the bed feeling upset a little later I heard raised voices—or to be more accurate I heard one raised voice. Little footsteps ran up the stairs and I heard a door slam.
Minutes after that, he reappeared with a tray, bearing: two cups, a pot of tea and a plateful of toast, butter and marmalade and some knives. He then proceeded to pour the tea and eat most of the toast.
Typical Simon, he can buy me a box of his favourite sweets or chocs and then help me eat most of them.
“What happened downstairs?” I asked him.
“I told her off, and sent her to her room where she has to stay until she’s twenty one.”
“So she got off light then?”
“I hadn’t finished.”
“She has to wear sack cloth and ashes and self flagellate twice a day with a cat of nine tails while standing on one leg and singing the Marseillaise.”
“What?” I gasped spitting tea all over him.
“Thanks, I really wanted my toast pre dunked,” he sighed dropping the rather wet slice of charred bread onto the tray.
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