• Gina Fegan

Chapter 18. Missing.

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

Having got the house dark, by creeping around on hands and knees, closing curtains, shutter or blinds without being seen, Maeve was feeling like she had somehow landed in the middle of an American thriller. She could hear the shower going upstairs and was now facing the bit she really didn’t want to do. But she would rather make this call when there was no one around, she really didn’t want anyone eavesdropping. She wasn’t sure how she felt about Steve and hadn’t had the time to decide if he really had been ‘just doing his job’ in a way that would clear her and Ray. Or not. Nothing for it, she was going to have to call him, right now before showers were finished, or it would get even more awkward.

Steve wasn’t keen on talking to Maeve either. What had she been playing at? Wasn’t it clear that he found her attractive so had to be extra cautious, always have a witness present, always record any important conversation as a statement. Maybe she wasn’t aware, maybe it did look like she was a suspect. Unconsciously maybe he did think she might have done it, did he? No! That was ridiculous. He had seen how she looked when she had found the body. Was there a sliver of doubt? Okay maybe he could see how it might have appeared to Maeve. He was still right to have done what he did, but maybe she had a point, he had made her a suspect without explaining the process. Maybe he had done it because he hadn’t decided what kind of relationship he wanted with Maeve. He hadn’t had any time to reflect on it either when Maeve called.

Steve had also missed the evening news so it caught him on the hop too. Oh God! This was just what he didn’t need. A media frenzy. “What was your mother thinking of? A medium helping with police enquiries! Shit! I have to sort things here immediately, I’ll call you back, don’t do anything until we have spoken.” With that he hung up and warned the desk sergeant, too late, they had already been inundated with calls, and had been fending them off with a ‘the police do not work with psychics, no further comment’ set of responses.

Once Ada and Orla had set off for Sandgate, Ada started making plans, “this is going to be like going into hiding.” Orla was never one to let an inaccuracy go so she cheerfully added, “it’s not ‘like’ going into hiding, you are going into hiding! And am acting as your ‘handler’, as well as your minder.” That was a lot worse than Ada liked the sound of.

By the time Steve called Maeve they had both had a moment to think, maybe it wasn’t completely the other one's fault, but still, there were wounded egos on both sides. They were civil rather than warm. Meanwhile Ruth had gone through her statement and had a list of questions. She wanted to know if the police had any lines of enquiry or if she should add in anything specific about ‘if anyone has any information they should call….’, or should they organise a joint press conference? Maeve handed the phone over to Ruth. As she did so she thought, what am I doing in the middle of this, how did that even happen? Ruth and Steve decided that given the unusual level of media interest they should hold a joint press conference, where they could both state that this had nothing to do with any psychics, the reporter had been completely mistaken, Ada was a friend and neighbour nothing more. They would hold it in town to draw the media away from the house while Maeve, and in particular Ada, would hide next door.

Having arrived in Sandgate, Orla was enjoying her position of power. “We need supplies and you can’t go out, everyone knows you but they think you are in Canterbury, so don’t put your nose outside the door. I am going to go to the East Yard, to the Docker Brewery and Bakehouse in the harbour over in Folkestone, because I am going to get the best sourdough, have you tried it yet? I’ll get some fresh fish from Trawlers too, and I was thinking we should get a few beers, what do you say? It’s okay, I’m pescatarian, I can eat fish, and I can use your card if I tap it.” Ada didn’t feel that she could object. The girls had kept two bikes in her house for years so that they could go on their own excursions anytime they were over and Ada wasn’t allowed to drive yet. Taking the credit card that Ada held out, Orla took it as her assent. Then Orla picked out Marieanne’s bike because it was the old fashioned upright model with a wicker basket on the front, which would do for the shopping.

Back in Canterbury, Maeve waited till Ruth went out the front door, then as she slipped out the back unseen she could hear Ruth saying, “we appreciate your support at the difficult time for our family….”, and glimpsed the media surging around Ruth, as she hopped over the wall home. She had steeled herself to face Ada and was stunned to find the house empty, and all of Ada’s stuff gone too.

That morning as Marieanne had closed the door quietly behind her, she had felt her heart lift. This was a completely controlled adventure, and it was just for her. It wasn’t until she was walking to the train station that she realised how much the recent stress and tension surrounding her Mum, Ada and Orla had affected her. The exams were bad enough but the rest was in a whole different league. She thought, if I shut it all out for the weekend, take some time doing ordinary things with people I love, then I will be fresh and ready to take on the next phase of revision, and of life. School had already been winding down and putting more emphasis on self study timetables so missing a day wasn’t a problem. As she walked she called her friend Rachael and told her that she wasn’t feeling great so was going to stay home today. There was no point in getting anyone else into trouble for lying. Rachael would simply relay the message. Marieanne felt a bit guilty at Rachael’s concerned ‘are you alright? Should I come over and check in on you?’ But knew this was the best way not to get her into trouble. Marieanne never took time out of school, so no one would doubt her. Job done. Marieanne could now concentrate on enjoying the day. She was in no rush. She planned it as she walked, she would take the train to Ashford and catch the next Eurostar to Calais, maybe wander around the market in Calais. Get her favourite ham and cheese baguette and a grand cafe creme, watch the world go by for a while. Then take the local train to Arras, in time to walk over and meet Dad at the Salon. Easy.

It was after lunch before Ada remembered that she hadn’t told Maeve where she was, nor that Orla was with her. Shit! She looked at her phone which she had left on silent from the night before. Of course there were missed calls from Maeve, four to be precise, one an hour, and the text, ‘where the f**k are you?’ Not surprising really, if she were in Maeve’s shoes she'd be mad too. Thinking of the best way to handle it, Ada decided to text first, then Maeve could call her whenever she was ready, ‘Hello love, so, so, sorry about the TV, thought it best to get out of your hair. Took Orla with me. At home now. All okay here. Call when you want to xxxxx’. She said a silent prayer as she pressed send.

Anger doesn’t really describe what Maeve was feeling, she was beside herself with rage, ‘that woman, only ever thinks of herself. Never a thought for others. Actually that’s not true. Plenty of time for others, just no time for me. She never had time for me.’ The anger mixed with the sadness and disappointment that Maeve really felt when she thought about Ada. Looking at it now she knew that it was a lack of affection, a lack of love. ‘Ada had never really loved her. Not in the way Maeve loved Marieanne and Orla.’ Maeve had brought her children up in a household full of affection, full of hugs and kisses, full of laughter. Where people had time for the children and brought them into the conversation. Thinking back on her own childhood she remembered it as lonely. Ada, drifting around, and her father blaming her for everything. Her father was what we would now call an abusive father, not physical, but totally controlling and no matter what she did, Maeve was always a disappointment to him, irrationally everything that went wrong was her fault. Maeve thought it was probably because she wasn’t a boy, but there seemed more to it than that. Maeve never understood what made her father so unpleasant, so downright mean to her. Nor why Ada never seemed to take her side. All of the emotions that she had been going through the last few days rolled into one and she cried, cried for her lost childhood, cried that she couldn’t reconnect with Ada, maybe she could never fully feel loved by Ada. Was she trying for the impossible? She felt that she had failed on every count. She hadn’t found Anne in time, even though she had had the warning. Once she had cried herself out, the other Maeve took over, telling herself to have something to eat, have a cup of tea, think things through again. It will all work out.

Then Ruth called and explained that the press fiasco wasn’t Ada’s fault, it was true Ada had never mentioned helping the police, it was all fabrication on behalf of the journalist. Of course the fact that Ada was a medium did mean that anyone who knew that could put two and two together but Ada hadn’t done it on purpose. The police were starting their lines of enquiry and had used the conference to call for any witnesses. Things were progressing. Also they had decided to have the funeral at Barham a week today to give Ruth’s brother time to get to Canterbury from Australia.

By the time she phoned Ada, Maeve was in a much better place. They made a sort of peace. It was still out of order for Ada to take Orla out of school like that, but maybe now wasn’t the time to push it. So Maeve decided that a nice quiet evening with Marieanne was just what she needed and as she reflected on the last week, it was probably just what Marieanne needed too, a bit of normality. She would bake one of the family favourites, a cheese pie, green salad with avocado and asparagus, dressed with Ottolenghi’s simple olive oil, garlic and lemon juice dressing, perfect. 

Maeve made the pastry, put it in the fridge and thought, there’s enough time to stretch my legs before I have to get the rest cooking. Throwing on her denim jacket, she went towards town, not keen on going up to the University just yet. She ended up crossing Beverly Meadow, and there waiting for her was Susan who addressed her with “Glad you came by, I am sorry about that lady, she is a nice lady. But you need to know that it is not over. You must find the killer or the price you pay will be too high.” After this cryptic comment, not waiting for a reply Susan had disappeared. 

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