May Day Bank Holiday
Rolling his sleeves, Andy stopped, heather smelling of sharp sawdust. Either side, a ragged line of men fanned across the moor, grownups playing British Bulldog. A helicopter thrummed like a giant child’s bike wheel with a card between the spokes.
Five children, missing since Friday.
On Saturday, cars and minivans arrived, camera crews trailing cables across the green, understanding, nodding. The story led most bulletins, made front pages.
Seeing the families made Andy awkward, husbands and brothers heads bowed, sisters and mothers brittle. Television marked them apart, intangible, characters rather than people. In the pub, unable to quell guilty excitement, everyone watched the village on the news. Like him, most were newcomers from the city, resented settlers.
Bank holiday, the search began seriously, faces grave, the minibus silent as they drove up winding roads into scrubby browns and greens. Balmy sunshine and blue sky seduced them into good-natured laughing and shouting.
Swigging back warm lager, Andy thought of the pub walls; yellowing photographs of hunts and hill races, wrestling matches and farm shows, May Queens in white.
When he found the children, curled like coloured stones under the bracken, Andy whooped, lifting the smallest above his head like a trophy.