They said on the news they would dredge the canal next. She had been missing for ten days—it was “out of character.” She “wasn’t the type” to just run off without saying anything.
Stories like that always made me feel sad: the fuzzy school photograph, the tear-streaked faces of the panicked parents, desperately begging for their daughter to get in touch, the dour-faced policemen with their statements to the press and requests for information. But the sadness was fleeting. Maybe the stories had become too commonplace. I felt as if I had become conditioned to feel no more than a passing regret before I would forget and move on to something more important to me. Something real.
“Turn that off, will you Jackie,” he said reaching for the remote. I let him take it from my hand, and he flicked through several channels. The image of the girl was already receding in my mind.
“There’s nothing on. Let’s watch a film tonight shall we? I’ll go and fetch a pizza.”
“Fine,” I said, not looking at him. I heard the door slam and his car speeding down the road.
He was gone for ages getting the pizza. Probably went into the Queen’s Head with one of his mates, or maybe even by himself. He never seemed to think it was important to just do what he said he was going to do. I never knew where I was with him. He just came and went as he pleased and expected me to be happy about it. The trouble was, I was, and he knew it.
When he finally got back, empty handed, he seemed agitated, nervous. He wasn’t usually like that. I knew better than to ask about the pizza. I wasn’t that hungry anyway. We put on a film but he kept asking me what was happening and glancing at his watch like he had someplace better to be. Eventually we went to bed and turned the light straight off.
A noise woke me in the middle of the night; he was grinding his teeth in his sleep. The storm that had been threatening to break for days was finally upon us, and I lay listening to the furious drops hammering at the window. I thought about the missing girl and wondered if she was lying out there somewhere, the rain washing her face clean and white in the moonlight.
When I next woke, it was late morning and he had gone. I lay in bed a while, my hand on my belly, waiting for the soft kicks from within that would tell me everything was okay. Maybe today I’ll call Mum and arrange to go and look at prams, I thought. Then I’ll make a Shepherd’s pie. He’d like that.
And if he didn’t come back, it would freeze for next time.
I turned on the TV at lunchtime. There was no more news about the girl. I knew there wouldn’t be. He wouldn’t be so careless as to leave her somewhere she would be found so easily. Not now that he had us both to take care of.