“Be there. Be there. Be there.” Maggie words beat in time to the wipers as they fought a losing battle against the rain. Pushing her mini more than was safe for the conditions Maggie tried to concentrate on the twists and turns of the road ahead.
The reflected flash of eyes dashing across the road was enough to focus her. Something small, Maggie thought probably a rabbit. She exhaled, letting out a breath that to that moment she hadn’t realised she’d been holding.
“Get a grip,” she told herself “Getting yourself killed won’t help Lola.” The thought caught in her throat. She had to be strong for her. Her mind flashed back 30 mins. Getting home from work, opening the front door and calling Lola’s name to no response. Then finding toys untouched, bed undisturbed and worst of all the back door slightly ajar. The slow but sudden realisation she wasn’t there. She’d gone.
She’d run away before. The fostering people had said it was a possibility. But it hadn’t happened for months, not since summer and then she hadn’t so much run away as walked a couple of miles before falling asleep in the sun. Now winter was here with freezing rain fell on a moonless night. Maggie blinked back the tears as she thought of her girl, how she’d be cold, tired, afraid.
‘Please be there,’ she whispered, knuckles white as she gripped the steering wheel. It was the only place she could think she’d be. The old house. Her place. Where the coal shed nestled against the south facing wall, the weeping pear providing welcome shade in summer and shelter from the harshest of the wind and rain in winter.
She rounded the final bend, praying to a God she hadn’t believed in since leaving the convent twenty years before (and going by her exam results Maggie God hadn’t exactly believed in her while she was there,) but right now Maggie was willing to try anything.
Something caught her eye, a glint in the headlights. Maggie blinked to clear the tears from her eyes, blinked again then slammed on the brakes. She was there. She was alive. Any vestige of anger Maggie felt was replaced by an over-whelming desire to take Lola in her arms and never let go. She stopped the car, reached over and opened the passenger door. ‘Lola,’ she called, her voice raised above the rain, ‘Come on girl, let’s go home.’
Lola looked up, initially unsure, then recognition struck. Sopping wet and fur dripping Lola bounded into the passenger seat, simultaneously trying to shake herself dry and lick Maggie to death.
Maggie turned on the fan to clear the windscreen, now fogged courtesy of the soggy doggy by her side. She cranked up the heating, turned the car around and headed for home. First thing in the morning she’d phone the kennels. That was it. After tonight she didn’t want to foster Lola anymore. She wanted to adopt her.
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