"Erica...? Erica..." I knelt on the dirty gravel ground beside the unconscious girl.
"Huh?" she mumbled as her eyes fluttered open, large brown spheres revealed.
Mai was stammering beside us.
"I'm sorry! This has never happened before...I mean the whole thing has never happened before..."
“It’s okay,” I said, laying a hand on her arm. “She’s coming to.
“Erica can you hear me? Are you alright?”
“Urg…” mumbled Erica. She rolled to one side and I darted out the way as she was sick. “Mr. Bible, Mai… Where are we?”
Mai, already in a lookout standing position, looked around our dreary transportation location. Clouds covered the whole vista of the sky, and the grey tarmac went streaming into the distant fog. There was one out-of-the-way house on the opposite side of the road, but the only other significant detail was the dark forest on the horizon.
“We’re not in England at all!” she cried. “I’ve left us in some forsaken place in the middle of nowhere! This is all my fault…”
“No, Mai, it’s not,” I replied, getting up and, after a second, helping a shaky Erica onto her feet. “Look, whatever happened, you’ve got us away from the reporters and the terrible news. In a way, you’ve saved us.”
I didn't add, however, that safety was only temporary for the time-being.
“I suppose so. Thank you, Mr. Bible.”
“But where are we?” asked Erica again.
I pointed to the house resting opposite.
“I’ll just go and ask…”
I wandered across the road, not feeling altogether very confident. A man, a farmer-type with light ginger hair, was sitting upon what appeared to be a hybrid of the large tree above and a wooden bench, half finished.
“Excuse me…” I called, jogging up to him. “We’re a bit lost. Would you mind telling me where this place is?”
“Ah, ya ‘ppeared out of nowhere there,” said the farmer cheerfully. I prayed that he wasn’t referring to Mai’s transportation. “Well, I’ll tell ya where y’are. You’re in County Sligo.” (When he said this, his voice gained a sudden magical lisp).
“Thank you, sir.” I nodded to him, and then jogged back over to the girls.
“We’re in Ireland,” I grinned at them.
“Oh, thank goodness! I haven’t put us that far off course!” Mai cried, her eyes wide still, but her hands clasped joyfully.
“I know!” I continued. “We can just hop on a plane and be home in no time. I can speak to the police about the charges. I’ll look after you Erica; and then the whole kidnap business will be over, and Meg-”
My smile dropped. It was then that I realised what had been missing the entire time I had been busy rushing around this little place on the outskirts of County Sligo.
How could I have not seen it before? What kind of partner just goes off into his own mind without spotting the obvious? Maybe I was such a terrible boyfriend.
For all this time, through the talking and the walking, the exploring and the perilous excitement, I had not noticed the one thing that was meant to be the dearest to me, and the one thing that I was meant to keep in mind the most.
Meggie was gone.