He stayed out past the time the search party gave up.
He knew he was probably searching for her ghost now, his little girl, because he knew the statistics of time and missing children and he knew the rumours of this town.
He should never have come here, damn the job, damn the opportunity to hell. But when his wife died he’d been so adrift, with only his little girl and his ambition to give any purpose to life. And so he came here, to this place, where career opportunities beckoned so sweetly, even though he’d read the newspaper stories about it.
About how kids went missing here, all the damn time….
Because that was what happened to others, not him, surely?
But then, he should have known better. Because losing your wife to cancer so young happened to others too, didn’t it? So how could he feel so safe really? So lucky, so clearly able to beat the odds?
He was the bloody odds. He should have seen it. But there are none so blind as those who will not see.
And now, now in the depths of the forest, his little light so weak, he was truly blind. He called her name, but it was ashes on his tongue. He knew. He knew she was gone. And in his heart of hearts, though he yearned to see her – if only her ghost – he wanted the comfort of thinking she was with her mother now, and the ignorance, the blindness of never knowing what happened to her in those final moments.
But still he searched, weariness a constant companion, almost beckoning the night to take him also, to take him home. To kill him too.
© Helen M Valentina 2019