My face is numb, but I can still feel it. It is a weird sensation as if my cheekbones have turned to jelly and the feeling is slowly evaporating never to return, but in the present moment the physical awareness remains. The expression that I have been holding for the past fortnight won’t leave and it is paining me knowing this but there is nothing I can do about it. The exhaustion throughout my body remains too and no matter how much I try to relax, my mind doesn’t allow for any form of recuperation.
‘Why don’t you get some rest,’ Mum says affectionately while she tries to remain normal and feed the children their favourite – spaghetti hoops on toast.
Though I know she means well, it is the last thing I wish to hear because I cannot rest until we find her.
‘I just can’t.’ I snap at her not meaning to and leave, heading into the unknown.
I walk out of Mum’s patio doors which lead into her huge garden. Her garden has been an ongoing project for as much of my life as I can remember. It has been so carefully designed at an extortionate price by a professional to look as wild and uncared for as it does, and my feet speed up into an almost run as I traipse through. Her garden backs on to an expanse of fields. Wide open space with nothing else around until the forest, but that is over a mile in the distance so I don’t know whether I will get that far.
Running through this landscape gives me a total sense of freedom and new energy that I haven’t experienced for almost a month and it is something that cannot be explained in words. I feel as if I can fly and the sweet smell of Mum’s garden resonates in my nostrils as I proceed to make the distance to the forest. This is also a new thing that I am noticing because smells are certainly something that have vanished during this dark time. Noticing the scent of the Hydroniums and Honeysuckle lingering in my memory bank pleases me but doesn’t remove my hurt.
On reaching the forest a wave of panic that I am so familiar with now comes over me again. It swarms my body as if a snake wrapping itself tightly around my frame with intention to kill. All the new energy that I had whilst I was pacing through the fields has instantly disappeared. My sense of freedom too has washed away into the air and I am left feeling that all too intimate sensation of horror that has been a permanent fixture inside me lately.
I begin searching frantically in the bushes, even looking high up into the trees.
‘Sarah!’ I scream in pure desperation hoping, naively, that she will pop out from behind a large tree trunk and shout ‘Hello!’ as if all of this has been some sort of sick joke.