Songs For The Missing*

“I’ll meet you down there,” I say to brother.  “Five minutes.”  We’re off to the safari park.

Shutting my door, I burst into tears.  All day yesterday I didn’t get a message from Seb and when I wake up this morning: still no message. Drying my eyes, I go through to the lounge.

“You OK?” My brother says, looking concerned, putting a hand on my shoulder.

Wiping my eyes I say “it’s really silly.”

“What is it?” He says, putting his arm round me.

“I haven’t had a message from Seb for two days and…” I dissolve into tears again.

The coffee machine disgorges its stream of brown liquid into the tiny glass cup.

“And I’m sure he’s just run out of credit, or run his battery down and left his charger at home, but I just want to hear from him.  I hate not being able to talk to him.”

Draining the little cup of coffee, throwing my shawl over my sunburned shoulders, pushing my hat onto my head, I say “let’s go.”

“What’s the matter?” Mum says when she sees me.  Not sure how she can tell that I’ve been crying through my dark sunglasses, but obviously she can.

“I haven’t had a message from Seb since the day before yesterday,” I say, sniffing, blowing my nose on a pink and white Hello Kitty tissue.  “Maybe he doesn’t like me anymore or…”

“Well hopefully he’s getting on with his work,” Mum says.  She’s eccentrically dressed today in a mid-calf length skirt and a bright multicoloured lace top with a flower pattern.  “I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about, but there will be if you harass him.”

“Have you heard from the fluffy monster?” I say as we walk past hibiscus and oleander bushes, looking for a taxi.

“No, pussy hasn’t bothered to contact me,” Mum says.

“We ought to send him pictures of those scrawny feral cats who live by the bins.  He doesn’t know how lucky he is,” I say.

My brother sprints ahead, hails a taxi and we all pile in.

“Presumably, regarding pussy, no news is good news,” Dad says.  He’s going for the look of An-Englishman-Abroad in pale blue trousers and a bright purple silk short-sleeved shirt.

My phone pings.  It’s my Seb.  “It was quite nice in the end,” he says, answering my how-is-Easter question. “Beautiful day today!  Get photos of the hyenas xxx”

Phew.  “It’s Seb,” I tell the others.  “He hasn’t forgotten me.”

“Let’s try and have a nice time with the animals, shall we?” Mum says.

Immediately I feel lighter.  Seb isn’t cross with me.  Everything is OK.  Mustn’t let myself get into such a state again, I think, as we speed out of town towards the safari park.

Giraffe feeding frenzy photo attached.

Happy Monday evening everyone!

*2008.  By Stewart O’Nan.  Mystery thriller.


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