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The Sleeper – Part 9

It was starting to snow in the city. Jeremy was hopping nervously from foot to foot as he scanned the crowd. He snorted gently when he caught sight of his father struggling towards him with 2 polystyrene cups of coffee. Daniel flinched as a group of people surged towards him, laughing and bustling as they made their way towards the Christmas market. His grey beard and oversized jacket made him look far more like a tramp than he deserved. Watching him, Jeremy stroked his own stubbly chin and winced as he looked down at his coat. Wrinkling his nose against the heavy smell of BO he sighed as his Dad reached him, proffering coffee and grumbling about cities.

He still took the coffee gratefully, wrapping both hands around it and inhaling the steam. His face relaxed for one happy instant. He gulped the hot liquid then he swore, arching his body away from the spillage.

“Careful, might be hot.” His Dad advised gruffly, his smirk spoiling the dead-pan tone. Looking away from his
coffee-sodden son, he turned to gaze at a large, corporate building across the road from where they stood.

“Any sign?” he asked but Jeremy didn’t reply straight away.

“Dad, look at us. We’re a mess! Maybe this should wait until tomorrow. It’s been years, one more day to let us clean up won’t make any difference. Besides, I could do with a sit down on the tray. My head’s spinning.” Jeremy was dabbing at his trousers with his sleeve, tension etched into his face. Daniel snorted.

“Your head’s spinning because you’re nervous. Face it, Jem, we will never be ready for this, but it’s taken years to find her and we’re finally here. We can’t back down now; that’d just be tragic.” He shook his head, downcast as he contemplated his coffee.

“D’you really think you’d recognise her?” Jeremy asked quietly, his gaze suddenly fixed on a two people walking towards them on the other side of the street. The couple were chatting happily and hadn’t noticed the 2 dishevelled men watching them from across the road.

“Obviously YOU do” Daniel responded with quiet emphasis. “Yes. I think that’s her.” They stood staring at the woman and her partner until the pair stopped their discussion and looked over at them. The man was short and slim, but his stance became protective when he noticed them watching. For her part the woman went rigid, all the colour draining out of her face.

She stood stock still for a moment, staring back at them staring at her. Suddenly she shook herself awake and turned to talk to the man, moving away from him and towards them as she did so. Daniel shuffled uncomfortably as the man grabbed at her arm, pulling her back and arguing with her. She didn’t try to escape but instead turned towards him caressing his face, talking urgently, reassuring him. Still he held on to her, shaking his head, looking over at Daniel and Jeremy. Eventually they crossed the road together.


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