“This photo doesn’t look odd to you?” I asked.
“No, it’s faded, but it’s as familiar to me as the day I took it. So much love, so much happiness.”
I handed the locket to him, “Here, it’s yours Jack, I’ve a feeling I was supposed to give it to you anyway.”
He took the locket from me without looking, his eyes focused on something over my shoulder. I made to turn around.
“No, don’t move, just keep talking to me, I don’t want to alarm her. She’s not hiding anymore, she’s watching us.”
Jack smiled and raised his arm in a wave, “I don’t want to hurt you,” he said.
I turned around slowly. The girl was closer, and no longer hiding, but she didn’t move. “Hey, I’m Sheila, I saw you in the Stagecoach the other night. You left something behind.”
Jack held up the locket, “Is this yours?”
She still didn’t move, just watched us from a distance. Although there was no breeze the bushes around her rustled and moved. She turned her head as though she was listening to someone close by.
“Jack, do you feel that?”
“Yes,” he answered, “what is it?”
The dead January grass moved in front of us, as though making a pathway to the girl. “Someone is showing us the way,” I replied.
He took a step forward, the young girl tensed, ready to run. Jack stood still again.
She cocked her head to the side, listening to words only she could hear, and then relaxed again.
I took two steps forward, Jack followed. We stood still for a few seconds and waited, expecting the girl to bolt. She didn’t.
“Come on Jack,” I whispered, “lets keep going.”
Slowly and carefully we walked forward until we were close enough to see her face. Her eyes were huge and frightened, her hair matted, straw on her clothes from sleeping in the barn. She was painfully thin, her well-worn clothes hanging on her body.
The world around us became silent, the air still, almost like we were in a vacuum. We were in the eye of the storm.
Finally Jack spoke.
“I think someone sent you to find me.”
He held his hand out, the open locket lying in his palm. “Did you lose this? It belonged to my daughter. I don’t think you knew her because she died long ago. Did someone give this to you?”
She darted forward a couple of steps and snatched the locket out of his hand. I expected her to run, but she didn’t, she backed away a few paces and then looked at Jack, and then at me.
“Why are you living in a barn?” I asked
She looked down at the ground, as though ashamed.
“Are you hungry?”
She looked up at me and nodded.
“Come with us, just for a hot meal, you need to eat.”
“Do you have a name?” Jack asked.
“Janie!” she whispered and then turned and ran.
Jack stared after her as she disappeared into the barn.
“Janie,” he whispered, “My Janie!”
My First Novel is available on Amazon.
Dead of July – A Novel by Sandra Thompson