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Out of Sight

Sometimes all it takes is for you to turn your back for one minute and things can change forever. I remember, years ago, we were in Florida and my eldest son (only son at the time) was playing on a playground. He was out of sight for a minute, while I turned to say something to my husband and when I turned back he'd gone. Disappeared. I cannot explain the absolute terror that ran through me at that moment. I ran around a children's playground, with adults all around me, screaming my son's name. I was beyond distraught. He appeared, grinning from ear to ear, at the top of a tall slide. He had no idea how scared I was. And that story inspired this one...




Out of Sight



out-of-sight-splash


Water flew through the air, splatting Eva in the face. She shrieked. A grin spread across her face as she swatted at long blonde strands of hair stuck to her cheeks. She leaned over, dipping her arms into the ankle-deep sparkling water, and jumped up flicking her arms into the air. Riley raised his hands in front of his face just in time to stop the water splashing him.

“Ha ha!” he said, giggling.

Nicola grinned. She knew getting the paddling pool out would be a good idea. The yellow hose snaked across the lawn hissing as it spurted water into the pool. Grass around the pool sparkled in the sun. A breeze blew past, blowing Nicola's hair into her face and rustling leaves in the trees. She pushed her hair behind her ear, leaned back in her chair, and reached to the ground for her drink. As she picked up the glass it slipped. She caught it with her other hand and rested it on the side of her chair. Getting a good grip Nicola lifted the glass and took a long sip of the iced coca-cola. She rested the glass back on the floor, leaned back, closed her eyes, and listened to the sounds of her children playing in the pool.

Birds sang. Leaves rustled in the breeze. Bees buzzed. A tickle on her arm made her open her eyes and she batted away a bug. Nicola took a deep breath, the charred scent of a barbecue drifted by on the breeze and her stomach rumbled. Ignoring her hunger she sat up, looked around for her book. She scanned the garden in case one of the children had taken it onto the grass. Riley's ride on police bike laid on its side on the lawn, Eva's pink Barbie Dream Camper and Barbie next to the bike. The children's ring-toss set sat on the grass down by the closed gate. Two balls, one with the Captain America sign, the other with Princess Anna's face, sat in the middle of the lawn abandoned in favour of the pool. 

Nicola pushed herself up out of the chair, stood up, and looked back into the house. Her book rested on the arm of the couch. She glanced back at the children, they plonked down onto their bottoms and hit at the water with their fists, showering each other with spatters. They laughed and giggled and Nicola couldn't help but smile.

“Honey?” Nicola said. 
They both turned, still splashing each other.

“I'm just popping inside, I'll be one minute, okay?” she said.

Eva nodded, smiled, and turned her attention back to her brother. Nicola looked at her book in the house, then back at the children playing in the pool. She took a breath and darted into the house. She jumped over Riley's trainers, sitting in the middle of the floor waiting to trip someone, rounded the pine coffee table adorned with a vase full of yellow roses, and leaned over to grab her book from the arm of the couch. She spun on her heels and headed back to the patio.

The phone rang.

Nicola rolled her eyes and ran to the phone standing on the kitchen counter at the opposite end of the house. 

“Hello?” 

Nicola stretched her neck, leaning over the kitchen counter trying to see out of the patio doors to keep an eye on her children, but the wall got in the way.

“Hello?” she said.

She frowned. She tried to pull the phone cord so she could look outside but it wasn’t long enough and yanked her back to the stand.

“Hello? Is anyone there?” she urged.

Nicola shrugged her shoulders, put the phone back on the receiver, and hurried back outside. 

The sloshing had stopped. The giggles too.

Nicola's brows pulled together and she looked around the garden. Their toys still laid in the grass, the pool still full of water. 

“Eva? Riley? Where are you guys?” she called.

She looked back and forth, her head snapping from one side to the other as she scanned the garden. Dropping her book onto the chair on the patio she stepped from the concrete onto the grass. The grass poked at her feet but she didn’t want to go back into the house to get her flip-flops.

“Eva? Riley?”

Her heart thumped. She put her hands on her hips to stop them from trembling, and called out again. Silence. A lump grew in her throat. Nicola spun around and ran into the house shouting out for her children. She ran up the stairs yelling their names. At the top of the stairs she peeked into their bedroom and the bathroom. Bounding back down the stairs she gulped for breath and rushed back outside.

“Eva! Riley!” she screamed.

She hurried to the bottom of the garden, trying to peek through the tall hedges. She arced her head left and right trying to see through but the leaves were thick and gave no view of the world outside her garden. She started towards the garden gate. 

Nicola stopped dead.
The gate.
Ajar.

She stared. Her heart pounded in her chest. Her vision blurred as tears welled in her eyes. The gate was open. As she ran to the gate, yanked it open, and stepped out onto the street, tears trickled onto her cheeks. She looked left. She looked right. Cars sped past. People walked with friends chatting. Didn't they know her children were missing?

She tried to call out but her children's names stuck in her throat. Tears streamed down her face. A smiling couple out walking their black Labrador hurried to her side. She reached out her arms. They reached out for her, the woman holding her arm asking if she was okay. Her knees buckled and she fell to the floor, letting out a grief-choked wail.




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