Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Sizzle (05/02/13)
TITLE: Midsummer Madness
By Fiona Stevenson
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At the fourth call Joanna interrupted Molly with a frown.
“Isn’t that your car, Molly?”
“What car?” Molly cut short her anecdote.
“That Ford Zephyr – listen!”
The call was repeated once more.
“Better run. Take my trolley please Jo.” She ran.
Midsummer with its scorching heat arrived early. The sun pouring into the supermarket car-park reflected blindingly from polished metal, glass and chrome. The sealed surface of the road softened stickily in the heat.
Molly saw a large group gathered around the red Ford Zephyr. Drawing closer she saw the back door of the car swinging open, a uniformed man backing with a bundle in his arms.
A bundle? No, oh no! She hastened her steps. The crowd broke apart to make way for her. White-lipped she looked into the officer’s face.
“Are you the mother of this baby, Ma’am?” His voice was grave.
“Is she ... is she ...?”
She couldn’t complete the sentence. Ignoring her outstretched arms he kicked the car door shut.
“No, Ma’am, she isn’t. No one could survive five minutes in that oven. Surely you knew better than to leave a small child in a closed car in this heat for any time at all?”
“But I was only gone a minute and I left the window a little bit open.”
“It was all of ten minutes after she was found before you came and that was already too late. A lady heard a cry, couldn’t open the door and went for help. Someone had the idea of asking the supermarket manager to use his public address system. I had to break the window to get the door open and by then ... well, by then it was already too late.”
Molly looked wildly around the openly accusing faces.
“But ... but it can’t be that hot?” She panicked.
“Can’t be?” A tall, thin man in a wide-brimmed hat leaned over and spat on the bonnet of the car. A hiss, a sizzle, the saliva was gone. The accusing looks deepened. The officer moved forward, still holding the toddler cradled in his arms.
“We need to get out of the sun, find some shade.”
The group moved toward the supermarket entry. Some of the bystanders drifted away, shaking their heads, murmuring their disapprobation.
“Can you get hold of your husband, Ma’am, and ask him to join us here?” The officer’s detachment had a calming effect.
Molly pulled a cell phone from her handbag and dialled. “David, please come to the supermarket ... come quickly.” She ended the call before he could reply.
The supermarket manager ushered them into a small office – Molly, the officer, a lady and the tall man – and brought some folding chairs. The officer laid the little girl on the hastily cleared desk and had a quiet word with the manager who nodded briefly, going out and closing the door.
The officer sat, taking a notebook from his pocket. “My name is Adam Creasey. I need to get some details, please.”
Names, addresses, short statements: the bare bones of a tragic event. He was still writing when the door opened to admit a young man. Molly flew at him with beating fists and tearful sobs.
“How could God do this to me? You call Him a loving God – how could He do this?”
The officer laid aside his notebook and pencil. His cold voice was effective.
“Calm yourself, Mrs. Brady, and sit down.”
David looked from his wife, past the body on the desk to the officer. His eyes filled with tears. Adam Creasey introduced himself, and related the events of the afternoon.
David and Molly were home. David prowled wordlessly, lifting and replacing toys and books, reminders of a cherished child now forever absent. Molly sobbed and scolded, excusing herself while blaming God. Finally David could take no more. He sat beside her, taking her hands firmly in his.
“That’s enough, Molly, be quiet. This is not the doing of the God you don’t believe in. Christy was in your care and it was your decision to leave her in the car while you shopped. I believe you when you say you didn’t intend to be more than a minute, but you met a friend. You forgot Christy. Don’t blame God for what you did. You would do better to acknowledge your guilt and ask His forgiveness.”
She spat in his face.
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