“Remember Sarah has to be in school before nine. It looks like it’s going to rain, so make sure that she has her raincoat and umbrella. The last thing she needs is another cold.”
I hide behind the kitchen door, listening. Cammi was my mother’s name, and she’s talking to my nanny, Anita. It was one of those days where both my parents were needed at work and Anita would drop me off at school.
“Will you be home this evening?” Anita asks.
“I’m not sure,” Mum replies. “I’ll call if we’re not.”
“Understood. Be safe.”
“Same to you.”
Anita sighs, possibly in annoyance. I can’t say I blame her. My mother’s overprotectiveness is enough to drive anyone insane. But it also makes me wonder why mum and dad hired a nanny if they don’t trust them with mine and my sister’s safety. Anita is amazing and nothing bad has happened to me or my sister whilst under her care.
“Cammi, I have been watching over your children since Sarah was born, do you not trust me?” Anita asks.
Mum sighs and I see her nodding her head from the gap in the door. “Of course, of course,” she mutters. “I’m sorry. I just hate leaving them when there are storms brewing, especially when I’m not even sure I’ll be returning.”
The door opens behind mum and dad walks in. He’s wearing his puffer jacket. He’s a big man with short brown hair and green eyes. He’s not tall, but he’s also not short. He’s my saviour. My protector. My giant teddy bear.
“Cammi, what’s taking so long?” Dad asks. “The meeting is in about an hour, we were meant to be on the road by now.”
“I know, I know, I’m sorry, I just can’t bear leaving them without an explanation,” Mum explains.
“We don’t even know for sure if we’re chosen yet,” Dad tells her. “We could possibly be coming home tonight.”
Mum sighs and Anita reaches out to touch her hand, comfortingly. “If there is one thing I have learned about the division, it’s they only choose the best. If they’re sending you on all these missions then that must mean they trust you a degree better than the others,” she says.
Mum smiles and nods. Her eyes lift to Anita’s shoulders and catches mine from the doorway. She straightens quickly and a smile spreads across her lips. Mum is a beautiful woman with long brown hair that reaches past her shoulders, blue eyes, and a heart-shaped face. She’s my idol and I love her very much.
“I see you.”
Quietly I slink out from behind the kitchen door and into the hallway. Instantly the atmosphere shifts. Anita and Dad relax and all tension seems to have disappeared.
Mum holds out her arms and I dash into them. I’m seven years old. I have brown pigtails that I feel pat against my shoulders as I run, my blue eyes close as I sink into my mother’s arms and a smile stretches across my face as I hug her as tight as I can.
“Oh, my precious little starlight,” Mum says, using my nickname.
“Mummy, why won’t you and daddy be home?” I ask.
“We don’t know for sure yet, pumpkin,” Dad says, kneeling down so that he is eye level with me. “If we’re not, you must promise to behave for Anita. Do you promise?”
I nod. “I promise to help look after Hannah, too,” I add.
“Good girl,” Dad smiles. He brushes a loose strand of hair from my face and then kisses my forehead. “Cammi, we must go,” he adds to Mum. She still has her arms around me and seems determined to not let go. Almost as if she is scared this will be the last time she gets to hold me.
“I love you,” Mum says.
“I love you more than you love me,” I whisper, trying to hide my sudden fear.
Mum and Dad aren’t shy to show their love to me or Hannah. But every time they say it when they leave for work, I fear that I will never see them again. I don’t understand why, and I can never explain the feeling to anyone, so I keep it locked up inside.
Mum smiles and reaches out to brush my cheek. Her hands are shaking. She tucks another loose strand of hair behind my ear and kisses my forehead too. “I don’t think so,” she says.
I feel guilty that Mum is showing me affection whilst Hannah is still asleep. I want to ask if she has kissed Hannah goodbye, but she and Dad are already out the door before the words reach my lips.
The door closes with a snap. I stare at it for a few seconds and then feel a hand on my shoulder.
“Come on, Sarah,” Anita says quietly. “Let’s finish breakfast and then get ready for school, OK?”
I nod and turn on the spot. I drag my feet across the carpet and return to the kitchen table. My cereal is untouched, and suddenly I don’t feel hungry anymore.
That sinking feeling of never seeing my parents again has returned, and I want, more than anything, for them to walk back through the door and announce that they are staying.