He kissed her fluffy fringe and said “I love you Princess”.
She giggled and replied “Grandpa, you haven’t finished the story!”
Her squeaky voice made his heart burst. He blinked to hold back the tears and read the rest aloud.
“Right then princess” he said as he softly closed the book, “Time for your dinner.”
“But I want to go to Pixieland” she peeped.
“Tomorrow sweetheart, it’s raining today.” He gave her a squeeze to dissipate her heavy frown “Go and wash your hands ready for dinner.”
She sighed resignedly. “Ok. ”
“Good girl,” he said as he hauled himself out of the armchair and made his way across to the kitchen area.
She stomped across the room and out of the door, but instead of going to the downstairs toilet to wash her hands, the little girl stopped in the hall and squeezed into her little red wellies with the big frog eyes on the top. She pulled her pink bobble hat onto her head and quietly put on her grey duffle coat with the pink mittens attached by a string through the arms.
“Isabelle,” came Grandpa’s voice from the kitchen.
“I’m coming,” she replied.
She waited for a moment, grinning at the door, expecting him to burst out and tickle her tummy, making her giggle again. But the hall stayed empty and the sound of pots, pans and plates rang out from the kitchen. She reached up high to the big brass handle, pulled the door open and squeezed out, closing it lightly behind her.
She skipped down the path towards the gate, her rubber wellies clip clopping along the front path. If it wasn’t for the pitter patter of rain, perhaps he would have heard her clip clopping down the path. Perhaps he would have caught her before it was too late. But she opened the gate and turned left, skipping along the pavement and swinging her arms. The cold rain made her cheeks turn pink.
She reached the zebra crossing at end of the road, pausing for a moment as if unsure of what to do next. Then she said “Look right-left-right-left!” aloud and crossed without looking in either direction, taking big strides so she only stepped on the white lines. Safely across, she put her hands on the cold metal railing and looked at the clump of trees at the far end of the park where the pixies lived. She bounced on the spot and giggled.
She was so excited about her adventure that she didn’t hear the heavy wheels that stopped behind her. She didn’t hear the footsteps of the man getting out, or the sound of the van’s sliding door open behind her. All she felt was the sensation of being grabbed tightly and flying backwards straight off her feet, leaving one of her little red wellies behind. Before she could speak, a dirty smell filled her button nose. All she saw was the silhouette of a man before a metallic ‘whoosh’ filled her ears and took all the daylight away.