Chapter 31. En route to Cromarty.
When it was all over, and the TikTok session had ended, they called Ada back. As she was taking her make-up off, and having a cup of tea, they had a debrief.
Marianne was in awe of Ada, star struck, she had never seen her grandmother perform before and kept saying ‘Wow’ and ‘Amazing, I didn’t know you could do that.’
This was a little irritating for Maeve and Orla who knew that she had put on a good show but without them it would have been just that, ‘a show’.
Maeve was trying to figure out the mechanics of it all,
“Okay so how do we think that actually worked? Who called that woman?”
Ada was exhausted, she really had put on an incredible improvisational show. With very little material she kept her audience engaged without revealing how she was getting the information. She had done a lot of “ooh,... aah, ...I feel something coming through…’ mixed with her humming crooning sounds.
Judging by Marianne it had gone down well with her audience, well that, and all the thousands of hearts and messages she’d received.
Make-up off, back in comfortable clothes, tea in hand, Ada was ready to give her opinion,
“Wasn’t I fabulous? We can get on to the plumbing in a minute, but you have to give me that. I was on fire.” She was flexing her shoulders, almost preening, plumped up and ready for adoring fans.
‘Oh God’, thought Maeve, she’s going to be unbearable, adding who am I kidding, she is unbearable.
“Glad we could help.” Maeve wanted to bring her back to earth without directly crushing her, then she remembered who she was dealing with.
“Actually Ada, you were brilliant. I couldn’t have done it, so ‘Well done’. You deserve a round of applause.” And Maeve raised her hands and gently clapped Ada. Joining in, Orla wolf whistled, then Adam who had been as quiet as a mouse throughout gave a big ‘Hurray!’ And Marianne was now clapping her heart out. So what Maeve started a little ironically turned into the reaction that Ada was craving. On the other hand, Maeve knew that they were also collectively celebrating having achieved something that none of them really believed was possible.
Smiles all round.
“Of course I couldn’t have done it without you, the backup team.” Maeve winced, Ada didn’t notice. “But I haven’t felt so alive in years. I used to think about big live shows, on stage, but I was too afraid that I’d fall flat on my face.” Ada looked round at them, this was heartfelt, wistful. A change of tone and she was back to the unstoppable Ada, “But if I’d known it was this much fun, I’d have started years ago.”
Maeve groaned and muttered mostly to herself,
“Thank God you didn’t.”
Taking a deep breath, and repositioning her smile, Maeve tried to move then on.
“Can we get back to the real issues? How did it work?”
Ada who didn’t really want to know, was still revelling in her performance. So it was Orla who spoke, a little tentatively,
“I think that maybe Ada hasn’t lost her powers, I think that she has shut them out. So Ada could call the woman but couldn’t see her.”
Maeve was impressed. “Wow. I never would have thought of that. Well done Orla, that could very well be the explanation.”
Ada was coming down from her moment of glory, and this was a very bright prospect for the future.
“Girl, you are brilliant! That’s genius.” She was grinning from ear to ear, “well I know which side of the family she got her brains from.” As she pointed to herself, just in case anyone might miss it.
After that, they dissolved into general celebrations, talking over each other with how brilliant this or that had been. It was only with the relief they were feeling did they realise just how anxious each of them had been.
Maeve had a bottle of Prosecco in the fridge and this seemed like the right occasion to open it. The alcohol went straight to her head so Maeve didn’t stay too long, and without Maeve the others called it a day, though Ada was up for a future planning session. They had a lot to sleep on.
The next day, first thing in the morning, Maeve was up and out, it was so early that she had packed breakfast into her picnic bag. A flask of good coffee and some fresh baked croissant which she had heated while she was showering. There was enough for Steve too. Better to enjoy it on the train that rush some food down before leaving the house. She wanted to walk down to the train station to stretch her legs before spending the rest of the day on a train, albeit in good company. Her overnight bag was a backpack and the food was in a neat carrier.
Still dark she could hear the birds and not much else, breathing in the clean morning air, she felt the rising excitement of heading off on an adventure. The idea of leaving Canterbury felt exotic; strange how things had changed so profoundly in such a relatively short space of time.
Maeve needed the walk to clear her head, the session on TicTok the night before had taken it out of her. In the quiet of the morning, Maeve could focus on the spirit who appeared rather than the drama of the event. She had felt the woman’s pain. Maeve wondered, had she actually shared any information that was new?
Maeve now had a complete picture of the child’s last day, the beautiful, glorious, idyllic start and horrific end, she could imagine the poor woman going round and round that same few hours, stuck in a terrible loop.
She got to the station quicker than she expected, but Steve was already there and waiting. He had the tickets, which was just as well as the ticket office wasn’t yet open.
Steve had the same air of ‘going on holiday’ or ‘off on an adventure’ that Maeve had. So when they saw each other, they laughed as if sharing a secret joke.
Steve had gotten used to living on his own long ago. It wasn’t that he didn’t have girlfriends or the occasional fling, but he had some rules that he lived by. He would never have a relationship with a victim. That was just taking advantage of someone in a difficult situation, and wasn’t fair, plus a grateful shag felt plain wrong.
There had been attractive colleagues who he had considered, but he also lived by the maxim ‘don’t shit on your own doorstep’. Maeve was no longer, or in fact had never actually been, a ‘victim’. And she wasn’t in the force, so was fair game.
Steve enjoyed her family too, there was a great atmosphere, but he wasn’t sure that he wanted to sacrifice his independence, or that he could deal with them on a daily basis. Maybe he was thinking too far ahead, let's see how this goes and then review.
On the train, Steve was right, they had the whole carriage to themselves. They took a table, one on either side to have enough room to spread out breakfast. Steve had also thought bringing their own food might be a good idea, and had brought two bacon butties, made with delicious fresh white rolls, and a flask of tea. They laughed at each other’s priorities.
“Ooooh that smells sooo good. I had forgotten how good bacon is! This is going to be a culinary holiday. Bacon rolls and tea first, then coffee and croissant as a snack before arriving in London.” She rubbed her hands together with glee. The fun of breaking all her own rules for a day was adding to her pleasure.
They had got to London and were dashing across from St Pancras station to Kings Cross with a quick refresh of coffee for the next leg of the journey, when they got the first inkling that something was up.