Lost and Found   Leave a comment

“Mummy…  Mummy!” screamed Hannah in the dark.

Stephanie heard the unnerving wails coming from the thick undergrowth, as she walked home through the City Park. Her heart started beating fast; she was the only one around to help the child, but the thought that maybe she was putting her own life in danger, did flash through her mind. Nevertheless she crouched down and called, “Where are you?”

“I’m here….. Over here!” bawled the child.

Stephanie struggled to pull a torch out of her pocket, as it was awkward being crouched down under a prickly holly bush. The footpath through the park had been well-lit, but in the underbelly of the bushes it was pitch black. Once she had released the torch, she shone it towards the chilling cries. Getting down on her hands and knees, Stephanie crawled forward, seeking and calling.

Hannah was sobbing her heart out when Stephanie found her. Stephanie saw a heart-broken child about eight years of age, scratched and bleeding, muddy and forlorn.

“It’s okay,” Stephanie reassured her, taking Hannah by the hand. “What’s your name?”

“Hann…ah,” gulped the little girl……”Hannah….. Greg … ory.”

Stephanie took her coat off and threw it around Hannah who was shivering. She led Hannah out of the undergrowth back to the path.

“Where is your Mummy, Hannah?” Stephanie gently probed.

“I don’t know,” whispered Hannah. “She brought me to the park to go on the swings; but when I was swinging she disappeared…….. I went looking for her, and then it got dark….. I was shouting for her…… some big boys started laughing at me and chased me, and I hid in here.”

“Do you know your address or phone number?”  

“Mummy only had a mobile, and I can’t remember the number. I live at 5 Inglewood Gardens.”

Stephanie groaned inwardly; Inglewood Gardens was a very rough area.

“Are you hungry Hannah? Would you like some chips?”

Hannah smiled faintly and nodded her head. So Stephanie took Hannah to the chip-van just outside the park gates. Hannah ate her chips hungrily, and licked her dirty fingers. Stephanie found out from Hannah, that the number 10 bus would take them to Inglewood Gardens. The man in the chip-van told them the next one would be at the nearby bus-stop in a few minutes, after Stephanie had queried him.

True enough, the bus arrived on time. Stephanie felt very uneasy and vulnerable on the bus. She wouldn’t have ventured to this part of town on her own during the day, not mind after dark. There was only them on the bus and a few noisy adolescents, who swore every other word. Stephanie held on tight to her purse and mobile inside her pockets. Hannah started to climb out of her seat when she got near to her bus-stop. Stephanie followed her, cautiously looking around as they got off the bus. Hannah pointed the way. They crossed the road, turned right and walked down to the end of the scruffy street.

Number 5 had boarded windows, peeling paint, and rubbish strewn in the front garden. There were no lights on. Stephanie rapped hard on the door with her knuckles, as there was no bell or knocker. No answer.  Hannah sat on the doorstep and rubbed away the muddy tears that ran down her cheeks.

“Right, I’ll try the neighbours,” Stephanie said in a mock cheerful voice.

“No! They hate my mum! They put dog poo through our letter-box, and said they would burn us out,” screamed Hannah hysterically.

“Okay, we’re going back up to the main road and I’ll call a taxi, and you can come back to my place.”

Hannah calmed down, and followed Stephanie silently.

When they got to Stephanie’s apartment, Hannah had a bath, washed her hair and put on one of Stephanie’s tee-shirt as a night-dress. Then they both had hot chocolate and biscuits.  Stephanie looked at the now beautiful angel sitting across from her. Hannah’s strawberry blonde hair shone, and her grey-blue eyes looked intently back at Stephanie.

As soon as Hannah was tucked up in bed, Stephanie rang the police. When she gave the child’s name the duty officer paused, and then said, “I’ve a Milly Gregory here in the cell, drunk and disorderly. I wonder if could she could be the mum? Could you bring her here in the morning, and I’ll contact Social Services?”

In the morning Hannah was happy to find out that her mother had ‘been found’. Stephanie was curious to know what kind of woman walked away from her child and got drunk. A social worker greeted them at the station, and took them into a side-room to meet Milly.

Hannah ran to her mother and hugged her tightly. Milly was clearly the worst for wear; she was pale and looked sickly. She had the same hair and eye-colouring as her daughter.  

“Let’s get Mummy a cup of tea,” the social worker said to Hannah and guided her out.

“Thank you for looking after Hannah,” Milly said weakly. I have no excuse, except my pride was hurt.  My neighbours were constantly telling me that I was nothing, a hopeless mother, slovenly and a slut. Something came over me in the park, and I just walked away believing Hannah was better off without me. When I realised what I had done, I went back for her, but couldn’t find her; so I went to drown my sorrows.”

“But she loves you, and needs you,” Stephanie blurted out…..”Come and stay with me both of you, until you sort something out.”

Just at that moment the social-worker returned and heard Stephanie’s offer. “I’m sure we can sort something out,” she said.

So Hannah and Milly did come. They flourished with the attention and care of Stephanie and the support of the social worker, and eventually moved into their own council flat just around the corner from Stephanie. Stephanie was just glad that Hannah’s childhood would turn out better than her own.

Posted March 11, 2014 by eileenmoynihan in Uncategorized

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