The Child Who Never Was by Jane Renshaw
English | 2020 | Mystery/Thriller| ePUB | 3.0 MB
Having discovered early in my ‘career’ that I didn’t have what it takes to be a scientist, I shuffled sideways into scientific and medical editing, which has the big advantage that I can do it while watching Bargain Hunt. I now live in the north-east of Scotland, by coincidence just half a mile or so from the tiny hamlet in which my great-great-grandmother Jane Renshaw, the wife of a shoemaker, brought up her eight children and where she is buried under a lichen-covered headstone in the graveyard. I hope she would not mind my borrowing her name.
Her child has been taken. But no-one believes her.
Sarah’s beautiful baby son Oliver has gone missing. And she will do anything – anything – to get him back.
But there’s a problem. Everyone around Sarah, even her beloved identical twin, Evie, tells her she never had a son, that he’s a figment of her imagination, that she’s not well, she needs help.
And on one level, they’re right, Sarah does need support. She has suffered massive trauma in the past and now she’s severely agoraphobic, very rarely leaves the house, avoids all contact with people.
But fragile though she is, Sarah knows deep in her heart that Oliver is real, that the love she feels for him is true.
And that can only mean one thing – someone has been planning this. And now they’ve taken her baby.
And suddenly she couldn’t move, she couldn’t do anything but stare at the locked door. There was a tightness in her chest, as if her lungs were shrinking and shrinking and every time she breathed out they shrank a little bit more. Soon she could only get sips of air, tiny sips, before her tiny shrunken lungs pushed it back out again.
She shut her eyes and made herself not breathe. Made her lungs be still, as Evie had taught her.
Oliver loved being outside.
He wasn’t afraid. It wouldn’t even occur to him to be afraid.
She heaved in a breath.
The sun is coming out to play…
When he was born, when Evie had seen him for the first time, she’d whispered, ‘Rah-Bee!’ – the twins’ childhood codename for Sarah, Sarah Booth, Sarah B., Rah-Bee – ‘Rah-Bee, he looks exactly like the sun in Teletubbies! You know, the sun with the baby’s face in it!’ Evie had started watching children’s TV, even before Oliver was born, to select the programmes she thought would be suitable for a child prodigy, which of course he was going to be. Oliver’s red little newborn scrunched-up face didn’t really look like that Teletubbies baby, or, indeed, any kind of prodigy, but that was where it had started, with Evie saying that.
‘The sun is coming out to play,’ Sarah would warble at him whenever they were going outside to the garden. ‘Hello Mr Sun, how are you today!’ And she’d pop a sunhat on Ollie’s head, or, in cold weather, bundle him up in lots of cosy layers and a woolly hat and a hood until he looked like an adorable little maggot.
And as he’d got bigger, as soon as she started to hum it, Oliver would stop whatever he was doing and start squirming in time, his head rocking comically from side to side, his arms held out with his little palms turned upwards as if he were holding a giant invisible ball. Sometimes he would smile like the Teletubby baby, but mostly it was a serious business, his sun dance. Lately, he’d begun trying to sing along –