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Louise Zedda-Sampson

Marie sat at the park bench, gaze on the playground, mind on other things. Jack was late with the fortnightly payment again, and he wouldn’t take the kids for the weekend. They needed new school shoes, she didn’t have money. She needed to go to work, but couldn’t afford a sitter. The pipe under the sink was busted and who was going to fix that? But these were all worries for another time. Right now, she was spending time with her children.

Laughter drifted up from somewhere far away. She watched her two angels play.

‘Lovely day today.’

The man’s voice was familiar, but she couldn’t place it. The uncertainness and interruption unsettled her. She clenched her jaw. ‘Can I help you?’

He was six-foot-tall, smartly dressed. Maybe in his 40s. But he wore mirrored glasses.

‘Don’t trust someone if I can’t see their eyes,’ she said. ‘Eyes tell you a lot about a person. My Jack’s eyes, for example–’

‘I know,’ the man said, laying a hand on her arm. ‘But you’re safe with me.’

‘How can I be safe with someone I don’t know?’ Her laugh was light, dismissive. She shook him off and walked to the play equipment.

‘Where are they? They were here… playing …’ her voice tapered off.

‘Come on, Marie. It’s getting cool, let’s–’

‘How do you know my name?’ She felt unsettled now. Her reflection in the mirrored glasses gave her pause. She touched her face, felt the deepened lines. She was old; much older than she thought. More wrinkles, more worry lines. When had her hair become so grey? A feeling of futility clutched at her chest.

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