“Nice work Mr. Cross. I must say I didn’t think we were going to get this new business. You were outstanding.”
Adam Cross looked around the room every member of his team looked exhausted but they had done it. The late nights and early mornings had been worth it, the contract was secured and they could all expect to get a nice bonus. He had barley seen his family for the past few weeks and he was looking forward to spending some time with them. He had been saying that for years but finally he was going to do it.
There was a light knock on the door and his secretary walked in.
“There is a call for you on line one. It’s your daughter’s school.”
He went to the nearest phone and picked it up.
“Hello” he said.
“Hello Mister Cross this is the principle of your daughter’s school. Your daughter Mary is not feeling well. Could you come and collect her.”
“Of course, have you called my wife?”
“Unfortunately we could not get hold of her, which is why we have called you. Mary has been suffering from fatigue for a while but now she has a fever as well. I think it would be best if she were taken to see a doctor. She is currently in the school nurses office”
“Of course I will be there shortly.”
As he drove to the school he tried his wife a number of times but could not get through to her. She had a tendency to lose her phone and he suspected this had happened again. He pulled into the school and walked up to the front door. It was lunch time and he passed a number of children playing, a few of them were singing a song he remembered from his child hood.
“One, two, Bevin’s watching you, three, four she’s going to promise you, five six she’ll take more that you think....”
As a child the old woman Bevin had been one of his earliest nightmares and his mother used to threaten him that if he didn’t eat his vegetables or go to bed early Bevin would come and get him. It was funny how simple thing were back then.
He walked in to the nurse’s office and saw Mary sitting in one of the beds. She looked tired but she smiled as he walked in.
“Hi dad thanks for coming. The nurse thinks I need to go to the doctor but I told her Mom said I just need a good night’s sleep.”
“Ok Mary but why don’t we take you to the doctors just in case. That way we will know you are fine.”
“Ok” she said and she got up off the bed. As she did so he saw a bruise on her arm.
“Did you hurt your arm honey?”
“You remember” she said looking at the bruise, “That’s when I fell off the swing at Rosie’s birthday.”
That was two weeks ago he thought but he didn’t want to say anything more as it might frighten the girl.
As they drove to the hospital they laughed and joked and he almost forgot that Mary was ill. They pulled into the private hospital and the doctor saw them at once. They ran some tests and kept Mary overnight to monitor the fever. The next day the doctor called himself and his wife out of Mary’s room.
“I’m sorry Adam the test is positive for Leukemia. We will do everything we can for her.”
He didn’t know what to do or say. All the late night all the money he had made over the years none of it mattered any more he would trade it all in to make his daughter better.
“I don’t care how much it costs.” he said as the tears built up in his eyes, “Please make my little girl better.”
Except she wasnt Mr Cross she was Bevin. The only Mr Cross she knew was her grand father and her mothers name was Mary.
For the first eleven years of her life Bevin was a normal girl who lived in the city with her mother. Bevin was tall for her age and her dark blond hair ran half way down her back. Her father was in the army and spent long periods away from them but he always made up for it when he came home. He had given her a silver necklace the last time he was home and she wore it around her neck at all times. Her mother worked many different odd jobs. ‘Just to keep busy’ she would say. She always referred to Bevin as Bee. But throughout Bevin’s life strange things happened to her or around her. Once when a boy had been teasing her a dog suddenly ran up and bit him for no reason. Another time a kid had stolen her ice-cream and as the kid ran away with the ice-cream a bird swooped down and knocked the ice-cream into his face. Soon after that when she was in school she had been day dreaming when the teacher asked her a question, as she wasn’t listening she didn’t know the answer and the teacher started shouting at her. The teacher called Bevin lazy which made her very angry but she didn’t know what to say, suddenly she heard a buzzing noise and when she looked at the windows there were bees at every window. The exterminators had to be called and they said it was a rouge hive which had attached itself to the school but Bevin sometimes though maybe it was her, was there something that she was doing?
One day during the summer holidays when Bevin got back to her house she walked into the kitchen and saw her mother clutching a letter and crying.
“What wrong Mom? Are you ok.”, she said.
“Oh Bee its bad news”, her mother said, “This letter was sent from the hospital. It looks like your grandfather is sicker than he told us. He said he was just a little under the weather but the truth is he is very sick. They don’t think he can look after himself. It looks like we will have to move in with him for a little while so that we can take care of him.”
Bevin started crying and ran over to her mother who hugged her.
“Don’t worry” her mother said, “We won’t be there for long and your grandfather will be all better before you know it. We will need to move down to lakeside to be near him and so you will need to move schools. We can go down there tomorrow so I need you to pack some things and we will be leaving early in the morning.”
Once Bevin stopped crying she went to her room to pack. She had never seen her grandfather’s house, he was regularly at their house in the city but she had never been to see him. When she asked her mother about this she always said that it was because his house was very old, run down and he didn’t want Bevin getting hurt in the old building. She had said her father had lost all his money when Bevin’s mother was young and all he had left was the house his parents had owned as this was left to him after he had lost all his money. She told Bevin about how sick she had been and that he had spent all his money to make sure she got the best doctors in the world and by the time she was better he didn’t have any money left.
The next day her mother and her got into the car and drove to the small town where her grandfather lived. The town was called Lakeside, it was made up of a few hundred houses and shops clustered around one main street with two small streets leading off it. At one side of the town was a small dock which was made of wood with a few fishing boats and at the other end of town rose a cliff with a Beach at its base. As they drove through the town Bevin couldn’t shake the feeling that this was familiar as if she had been here before. “Maybe when I was a child”, she thought.. As they pulled up to her grandfather’s house Bevin was amazed at the size of it. Bevin saw that the house had lots of windows but they all looked as if they needed a good cleaning. There was paint peeling off its cream walls and it had the look of a house which needed quiet a bit of repair. Her grandfather was standing on the porch. He looked very pale to her as she ran up and gave him a hug.
“Oh grandfather, are you ok?” said Bevin.
“I’m fine” he said “I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I have tried to tell your mother that there is nothing for her to do and you should go back to the city.”
Her mother walked up and hugged him. “We are here until you get better so the less complaining you do and the more rest you get the sooner we will be gone. Until then you are stuck with us.” Her mother said firmly.
They got their luggage from the car and Bevin went to see her new room. It was much bigger than her room in the city but also it was older, smellier and dustier.
“Oh dear” said her mother who had followed her into the room, “It looks as if this room needs a good cleaning.”
Bevin and her mother spent the rest of the day cleaning her room and that night she was so tired she fell asleep early. Her dreams were very strange she dreamed of fires and an old woman who was looking at her.
“Soon you will be mine” the old woman said and Bevin woke up sweating. Her dreams where often of her flying or of people she had met but she had never had a dream like this before. It was late at night but she could hear her mother and grandfather arguing.
“I don’t want you here.” Her grandfather said, “It’s not safe for her to be here.”
“Oh Dad,” her mother said, “You have been saying that for years. The house is not that bad and she is eleven years old you have to know she is old enough not to hurt herself.”
“No its not just the house, she can’t be here not in this town. You don’t understand. It’s not safe.”
“You really are a stubborn old man but I don’t care what you say we are looking after you and that’s that.”
Bevin fell back asleep and dreamed of cliffs and caves but nothing woke her until the next morning.
The next day her mother told her they would explore the town. The town consisted of a main street with a church, school and a number of shops. There as a park in the center of town and they were going to head there. They walked slowly through the town and her mother stopped to chat to locals. When she ask Bevin introduced herself to people, especially old people, they would sometimes give her an odd look and make a sign with their hands before they shuffled away. Eventually they got to the park and her mother sat down. Bevin went to the swings and saw some girls her own age.
“Hi” she said as she walked up to them.
“Hey” a girl with a slightly large head. “What’s your name?”
“I’m Bevin” she said “what’s your....” The girls started laughing and whispering to each other.
“What’s so funny?” Bevin asked.
“You’re a witch.” the girl with the large head replied.
“What does that mean? Bevin said looking confused. “I was just going to ask your name, why would you call me a witch?”
“Bevin is a witch’s name” the girl said ”Everyone knows that. You must know that unless you’re stupid.”
“I’m not stupid” shouted Bevin. Two dogs who were being walked nearby started barking and struggled to get off there leash.
Her mother walked over and the girls walked away.
“Bee what’s wrong what were those girls saying to you?”
“They said my name was a witch’s name. What are they talking about?”
“Oh that I didn’t think that was still a thing. I remember when I was a kid there was an old rhyme about a witch called Bevin. I thought that had been forgotten years ago. Don’t worry about them Bee if they were really your friend they wouldn’t say things like that to you.”
As they walked out of the park Bevin saw an old woman looking at her. The old woman looked familiar but she couldn’t think where she knew her from. She was leaning on an old walking stick and smiling at Bevin.
“Mom who is that old Woman” she asked, “She looks familiar, do you know her”
“What old woman Bee? Come on we better get back to your grandfather, he is a stubborn man and unless I see him taking his pills I won’t believe he has taken them.”
On the way back to the house she saw the girls again they started laughing when they saw her and crossed the road to avoid her.
When Bevin and her mother got home her grandfather was waiting at the door.
“Where were you?” he asked, “It’s not safe to go wandering around town. If you have to be here you should at least stay in the house. Did..... Did anyone try to take you?”
“Dad” her mother said “what on earth are you talking about. Bee is eleven years old and she was with me all day you need to stop this paranoia. I’m sure this little town is a lot safer than the city is for kids I’m sure she is safe enough. She had a rough day some kids were mean to her. Why are you out here, you were not waiting for us were you?”
“I was worried” he said, “There are a lot of scary people in this town. Bevin,” he said turning to his granddaughter, “you must never talk to strangers and you have to always tell me if anyone tries to take to you.”
“Dad stop it you’re scaring her” she turned to Bevin and said, “Its ok honey you can go to your room and finish unpacking.”
Bevin went through the rest of her things and put them away. As she did this she was still thinking of the girls she had met, are all of the kids in the town like those girls? What if she can’t find any friends, what if they are all mean? She had to start school in a few weeks and she wasn’t looking forward to it.
After a while her mother called he to come down for dinner. When she walked into the kitchen she saw the table was set for five.
“Is there someone calling for dinner.” she asked.
As she said it the doorbell rang and her mother answered it. In walked a girl Bevin’s age and an older woman.
“Bee” her mother said, “This is Susanne. She is going to be in your class and she lives next door.”
“Hi, I’m…..” Bevin remembered how the girls reacted when they heard her name. “I’m Bee” she said.
“Hi” the girl said, “You can call me Sue.”
They stood there for a moment looking at one another.
“So where are you from?” said Sue.
“The city where are you from?” said Bevin.
“I was born in this town and we have always lived next door. Why haven’t I seen you before?”
“My grandfather usually visits us so this is the first time I have to see him in this house.”
Sue and Bevin chatted all through dinner. Sue told Bevin all about her cat Mr. Mittens and how he was her best friend. When she was leaving she asked Bevin if she wanted to call over to her house tomorrow.
“We have to go to the hospital with your grandfather in the afternoon but you can call to visit her for a few hours in the morning.” Her mother said.
Sue promised she would meet Bevin tomorrow morning and said she could meet Mr. Mittens.
Bevin helped her mother tidy up and went to bed. As she fell asleep she smiled and thought maybe this town wasn’t going to be as bad as she had first thought.