• A.D. Stephenson


“I just can’t believe she’s gone…” Mary sobbed.

“She’ll come back. You know what she’s like.” Donald tried his best to sound reassuring.

“What if this time it’s different? What if she’s hurt?”

“It’s going to be fine, love.”

The panic had truly set in. Mary began pacing the room, unsure where she wanted to be or what she wanted to do.

“Shall we call the police?” Mary muttered.

“You know they won’t do anything…”

“I know it hasn’t been long, but we know Bea. This behaviour is out of the ordinary. She’s only young.”

“No point. Maybe we make posters.”

“Yes! I’ll get some photos from the album.” Mary was delighted to have something to keep her busy.

“Mum, dad?” Reece called. Dina usually came in to see Mary for a chat but needed to get Malaika to the dentist. She watched as Reece walked through the front door before disappearing.

“Not now, darling. We’re busy.”

“But mum!”

“Listen to your mother, Reece. We’ll be with you soon. Just… watch the TV. We’re heading out. You’ll be alright, won’t you?”

Reece didn’t reply. His mind buzzed with the excitement of watching cartoons all afternoon. He listened as the door slammed shut. He put the TV on and found the cartoons.

Nearly two hours passed before Reece grew bored. He was hungry and decided to make some dinner. Making his way into the kitchen, he grabbed his step to reach the worktop and stretched for the bread at the back. He went to the fridge and grabbed cheese, ham, and tomatoes, just like he’d seen Mary do. Lastly, he reached for a knife.

Very carefully, he put the knife on top of the cheese and pushed. It was firm; he pushed harder, holding the cheese tightly with his other hand. It happened quickly. The angle he was pushing at tipped the cheese and the knife shot free. Reece winced as it came down on his finger, the flat side of the blade squashing his knuckle. He looked at his finger and held back tears. Deciding not to have cheese or tomatoes, he slapped ham between bread and used the knife to cut the sandwich into triangles, just how he liked them.

Pleased with himself, Reece took his sandwich over to the kitchen table and began to eat. It was getting dark and his parents were still not back. He realised that he hadn’t seen Bea since he got home. He suddenly felt very lonely and afraid. Why was he alone? What if the monsters came?

He ran upstairs to his room and hid under his bed. He had no idea how long he lay there when he heard soft footsteps on the stairs and the creak of his door opening. He shut his eyes, hardly breathing, not daring to move. The steps came closer. He opened his eyes just enough to see into the darkness. Suddenly he felt safe. He reached out his hands and felt soft warm fur.


* * *

I've had this idea for a while. 500 words is not quite enough to go with my original plan, but I think this comes out pretty well. I wanted to portray parents so worried about a pet that they forgot to care for their child. The idea of Reece fending for himself because his parents are occupied with a less serious matter is fascinating to me and I know how easy it can be to prioritise the wrong things. There was the option to make this story a lot darker than it is, but I didn't feel it was necessary and would have found it too hard to write.

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