They were driving down a quiet country road, Rebecca was half asleep in the back of the car, and her Mum, Persephone, was driving home in the soft light of the early evening.
Rebecca was very tired, as she had a long day visiting her Grandparents up in London with her Mum, and even though it was evening it was still very hot which was making Rebecca even more drowsy.
According to her Mum it was one of the hottest Summers she had ever seen, apart from the heatwave when Rebecca and her brothers had been born. Rebecca was only eight, and she certainly couldn’t remember it being quite this hot the last few Summers, she took her Mum’s word for it.
Rebecca’s light blonde fringe was plastered to her forehead with sweat, as she dropped off into a light sleep in her car seat. Persephone looked back in her seat for a second, to check on Rebecca, and smiled softly at how sweet her little girl looked asleep.
Suddenly, there was a loud rumbling of thunder that seemed to be loud enough to shake the whole car, and a flash of lightning that lit the whole sky.
‘What’s going on Mummy?’ mumbled Rebecca drowsily, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
‘Nothing Becky darling,’ said Persephone concentrating on the road, hoping to get home safe before the storm got too bad. ‘It’s just a thunderstorm. When it’s been warm like this for a few weeks, there’s a thunderstorm to make up for all the rain we’ve missed.’
‘I don’t like it,’ muttered Rebecca seeing another big flash of lightening. ‘Is scary!’
‘I know darling, I know,’ said Persephone calmly, ‘I’ll get you home as soon as I can. Then Daddy and I can tuck you up nice and warm in your bed.’
‘Ok,’ said Rebecca smiling enough to show her lopsided grin. Last week her brothers Isaac and Ruben had been playing rugby in the house, and Rebecca had been hit by the ball right in the mouth and one of her teeth had fallen out. It was only a baby tooth so it would regrow eventually, but it had been one of her front teeth.
The rain was pouring down in buckets now, so it was difficult for Persephone to see through the thick sheets of rain. She drove slowly and carefully through the rain, trying to see as much ahead of her as she could.
All of a sudden, a car came speeding out of almost nowhere. The only thing Rebecca saw was the flash of the other car’s headlight, mingled with the lightning. The next thing she knew, the car was spinning out of control, and there was a loud squealing of brakes on a wet road.
Rebecca had closed her eyes, hoping that when she opened them it would all go away. She opened them cautiously and peeped out to look at her Mum. Rebecca saw the glass scattered around the car, and hardly even noticed the shards of glass on her.
None of that phased her, all that worried her was the fact that her Mum was resting her head on the dashboard as if she was asleep, she had let go off the steering wheel, and there was a huge gash on her forehead that was bleeding blood like water.
‘Mummy?’ called Rebecca in barley more than a whisper. ‘Mummy wake up!’
But Persephone couldn’t hear her, she just continued to be flopped over the dashboard at the front of the car.
‘Mummy please wake up!’ Rebecca called more urgently.
The driver of the other car had got out now, they were unharmed, and they were trying to check on the other car to see if there had been injuries.
‘Mummy wake up!’ Screamed Rebecca. ‘Mummy wake up!’
‘Becky,’ called a soft voice as if from another world.
‘Mummy wake up!’ she kept screaming.
‘Becky Bubala,’ said the same voice but louder this time. ‘Becky, it’s alright.’
Rebecca opened her eyes and found herself dripping in sweat but not from the heat from the fact that she had been tossing and turning for hours. She had managed to tangle herself up in bedsheets and had thrown over half of her toys and blankets off of the bed.
There was a thunderstorm going on outside, but she wasn’t trapped in her car seat but safe in her very own bed. She wasn’t a scared little girl of eight anymore, she was still scared, she always had been since that day, and she was still small for her age, but that accident had happened over seven years ago.
Her Mum wasn’t here with her, but her Dad Joseph was sat next to her on the bed, and he had just turned on the bedside lamp.
Dr Joseph Cohen had been fetched by Rebecca’s cat Felix when she had been having a nightmare, so that Joseph could calm Felix’s mistress down, and soothe her back to sleep. Joseph hadn’t even stopped to grab a pair of slippers or a jumper but had come running upstairs in his usual pyjamas of a t-shirt a pyjama trousers, his black curls still unruly from sleeping on them.
‘Here you go darling,’ said Joseph passing Rebecca a cool glass of water.
Rebecca sat up slightly, somehow still shivering despite the fact that she was sweating and drank the water appreciatively in several large gulps.
‘That’s my girl,’ said Joseph kissing Rebecca on the forehead, and making her blush light pink. ‘You feeling any better now?’
‘A bit,’ whispered Rebecca. ‘Thunderstorms, they always make the dreams worse.’
‘I know Bubala,’ sighed Joseph hugging his daughter, ‘I know.’
Rebecca gave her father back the glass, and snuggled up next to him, as he stroked her hair soothingly.
‘If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you fifty times, I will always wish that I was with you that night,’ said Joseph. ‘You had to go through all that all your own.’
‘You don’t wish that Daddy,’ said Rebecca in a logical tone, ‘not really. If you’d be in the car too, Ruben and Isaac and I might have been left with nobody, then where would we have been?’
‘Why do you always have to be right?’ chuckled Joseph.
‘I get it from Mummy,’ said Rebecca smiling softly.
Joseph got up from the bed, and kissed Rebecca on the forehead one more time before tucking her back into bed. He folded most of the blankets away, and put one top of the wardrobe, he put most of the princess dolls on their shelf and passed Rebecca her favourite.
‘Get some more sleep, you’ve got a big day tomorrow,’ said Joseph.
Rebecca groaned. ‘Do I have to go back to school tomorrow?’
‘Yes,’ chuckled Joseph, ‘you do.’
Rebecca yawned and snuggled back down under her duvet. Joseph got the light and went back out into the corridor leaving Rebecca’s door open. As he got into the corridor, a black cat with white socks on all four feet weaved his way in and out of his legs.
‘Felix,’ said Joseph bending down to pick up the cat. ‘Look after Becky and keep her safe.’
‘Meow,’ said Felix inclining his head.
Joseph assumed this meant that Felix got the message, and he put Felix back down. Sure enough, the second he put Felix down, Felix ran into Rebecca’s room, and curled up on the bed next to his mistress, making sure no mice came into her room.