Dad tears up to the old ruined tower, dashes inside and seconds later darts out yelling something to Mum who, by now, has caught him up.
I run faster.
When I draw nearer, I see Dad scramble down the rocks closer to the water’s edge.
Hear him bellow something at Mum.
See Mum scuttle over the rocks towards him.
Hear Romulus let out an unearthly howl.
See Mum peer over Dad’s shoulder.
Hear her scream.
What’s going on? What’s happened now? And where the frig is Jess?
When he twists round to Mum, Dad’s face is the colour of turned milk. “Phone an ambulance! Quick!”
Then he swings back. Slithers to where the sea meets the land. Holds onto a ledge. Reaches out into the waves. And, with a mighty heave, pulls something out of the water.
It’s a person, a teenager, I guess – a girl probably. Dressed in torn blue denims and a red jacket that’s ripped and sodden. A teenager whose long dark hair dangles over one shoulder like tangled brown seaweed as Dad struggles to pick her up.
So it’s not just us, Remus. Somebody else’s fallen in, too. How unlucky can one day get?
“Help me, Mary!” Dad bawls.
Mum drops her mobile on the ground and, crying, sliding and stumbling, she reaches Dad and
helps him haul that poor teen up onto dry land.
They’ve just managed to get the girl up off the rocks onto the grass when I catch up with them.
“Omigod! What’s happened?” I shriek, my gaze trained on the bruises behind the woven-leather bracelets on the teenager’s upturned wrist.
Mum is beside herself, crying and shaking all over like she’s the one who’s just come out of the
water. Romulus lies at the foot of the tower’s steps, eerily silent, his golden head on his front paws. Why
isn’t Jess with him?
“What’s going on, Mum?” I say, trying to catch her arm. But she doesn’t seem to notice me. It’sprobably the shock of seeing that poor sod getting dragged out of the sea.
I shiver. God, that could so easily have been me.
By now, Dad has got the kid on her back and is giving her mouth-to-mouth. He puffs air into her lungs, leans back, counts, and tries again. And again. And again. But it’s no good.
“No!” he yells out across the water.
He shakes his head. Sits back on his heels, panting. Mum falls on him, moaning and sobbing.
I can’t get a good look at the girl’s face from this angle; don’t know if I want to, really. But I move round to take a look anyway.
Then Mum screams, and I mean really screams. They must be able to hear her across the Forth in North Berwick.
“Mum,” I say, reaching out to comfort her. But already she’s on her knees, bending over that poor lifeless kid.
Why isn’t she here? What can have—
Then it strikes me – that girl’s wearing a red jacket.
A black t-shirt!
God, no, it can’t be. They’re Jess’s clothes. The ones she was wearing today!
No! It’s just a coincidence! Jess went for help. Didn’t she? This isn’t her. Is it? God, don’t let it be.
Mum’s hunched over the girl, stroking her hair. Hair I recognize. Dark hair just like—
Christina Banach is a former head teacher who lives in Scotland, UK, with her husband and their two rescue dogs. She loves walking; delicious food and wine; evenings at the theatre; exploring new places; surfing the Net; listening to music; and anything that makes her laugh. Plus she has a bit of a thing about shoes and handbags. She loves reading, and is especially keen on young adult and children’s fiction (all those years buying for school libraries!).
She is currently working on her next novel.
^ Click banner for giveaway ^
—Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter
Winner will receive a Paperback Copy of Minty by Christina Banach.