Emma sat in the front seat of the rental car, scared to get out. She was a city girl, having grown up in Boston with her dad, David, and mom, Mary Margaret. And this little village, Sommerfynch, had a population of eighty, and everything was green and muddy and beautiful. And very green. The six year old had never seen so much green before.
"Come on Princess." David's tired voice smiled, his fake 'I'm-coping-honest" voice. "Let's go. We need to put up our tent before it gets dark."
"It's only just been lunch time." Emma whispered.
"I know. I'm joking. Although it might take me a while to put it up. I've never put up a tent before." David turned off the car engine, and sighed. "Let's go and talk to the man who owns this camp site, yeah? Come on, Emma." David tried. He got out of the car, and opened Emmas car door, and undid her seat belt.
"You wanna piggy back?" He asked her with a smile. Emma nodded, attempting to throw him a half grin. It didn't work. David kissed her forehead, then picked her up onto his back, and locked the car, leaving everything, apart from his wallet, with ID, money, and his booking papers inside it.
Emma's skinny and pale arms wrapped around his neck, as he walked through the squelching mud, ruining his once-pristine trainers. David approached a little wooden cabin, and walked in. "Hey there," he smiled to the grey haired man behind the counter, "my name's David Nolan. We booked to camp here?"
"Ah, yes, yes. We've been expecting you. And who's this?" He asked with a sweet smile to Emma.
Emma didn't reply, shy and nervous. "This is my daughter, Emma." David smiled.
"Okay. You're all checked in. You're on just there, in between that caravan and the blue tent. You can just come here if you need anything, and the shower and toilet blocks are just next door. The list of contacts you can call if you need anything is pinned up outside. Have a great stay."
"Okay. Great. Thank you." David smiled, walking out. Then he turned around and looked at Emma's sad little face. "It's going to be okay Em. I promise." He looked down at her, then caught one of her swinging little feet. He tickled it softly, then did a double take. "Emma Nolan! Where are your socks and shoes?" He laughed, noticing her fully bare feet.
"I don't know." She laughed.
"I need to find you your welly boots."
"They're in the back of the car." She giggled, her voice a perfect little tinkle.
"Ah yes." David smiled. He tickled her foot again, making her laugh. David loved her laugh; it's what kept him going. Even though he rarely heard it anymore. To him, it was one of the most precious things in the world.
David sat her in the car, plugged her seat belt in, and drove over to his slot. He passed him some socks and her tall welly boots, with multicoloured stripes. She pulled them on, and hopped out of the car, following David. As she stood there, she saw a little boy with black hair, about her age, give her a huge grin. She just stared back, fascinated by the little boy, sat in a tree, eating strawberries from a little tub.
Half an hour later she was sat back in the car, David fighting a losing battle against the tent. Then the little boy walked up to her, and knocked on the glass window, a rhythmical five tap knock. Emma rolled down her window.
"Hello." The little boy grinned kindly with a hint of excitement. "What's your name?"
Emma looked at him, unsure of the little boy. His hair was dark and untamed, and was floppy, reaching the middle of his neck and flopping over his eyes when he hadn't pushed it back. His eyes were the most beautiful shade of blue, eyes like Emma hadn't ever seen before. His smile was large and charming and sweet, his white, even teeth stained red with strawberry juice.
"Can you not talk?" He asked interested. "That's okay. I talk enough for two people. That's what my mummy says. My name is Killian. Killian Jones. And we're camping next to you. Me and my daddy and my mummy and my big brother Liam. He's eleven and I'm six."
Emma smiled back at him sightly. David stopped wresting with the tent and looked over at them with a smile, listening to the one sided conversation.
"Do you want a strawberry? I saved you one." Emma softly shook her head. "Well, do you want to play? There's so much to do. We can swim in the river or climb the trees or go berry picking or play a game. I come here every summer, for four weeks. I've been here for one already."
Emma looked at David expectantly, and he nodded. "You can go play if you want to."
Emma hopped out of the car, and followed Killian to the front of his tent. "Was that your daddy?" Killian asked, getting a shy nod as a reply. "Where's your mummy?" Emma didn't move. "Are your mummy and daddy divorced? My friend Mikes mummy and daddy are divorced."
Emma shook her head.
"I've never met someone who doesn't talk before. Is it because you stutter? Or are you not Irish. Do you speak English? Can't you just tell me your name?"
Emma looked up at him, and their eyes locked. "Emma." She whispered. Killian face broke into a smile.
"That's a pretty name. Where are you from? Your voice is different. It's pretty though."
Emma decided that she liked Killian, that she could trust him. She wasn't as shy now. "Boston. In America."
"I'm from Dublin. Your voice is so cool. It's so different."
"Yours is different to me." Emma smiled softly.
"Killian?" A female voice shouted from inside the tent. "Killian!"
"I'm here mummy!" He shouted back. A beautiful lady immerged from the tent, with flowing black hair and blue eyes. She was quite tall and thin, with loving smile. "Killian. Liam said you had gone somewhere."
"I was up a tree eating my strawberries. Then I met Emma." Killian smiled. Emma stepped out from behind Killian.
"Hello dear. Are you part of the family next to us?" Killian mother asked with a soft smile. Emma nodded. "I'm Sarah. I'm Killian's mum. It's lovely to meet you. Is that your daddy?"
Emma nodded. "She's very shy." Killian explained.
Sarah smiled at her. "That's okay. Do you kids want a drink?"
"Yep." Killian smiled at her. Sarah left, and came back with two juice boxes. Killian walked around to the other side of the tent, and sat down on a picnic blanket, next to an older boy and a man who Emma guessed to be Killian's dad.
"This is my brother Liam, and this is my daddy." Killian introduced. "This is Emma."
Liam nodded towards her, then looked back to his mobile phone, busily texting someone. "Hello there," Killian dad smiled at her, "where's your mummy?"
Emma looked at him sadly, then whispered, "In Heaven."
"I'm very sorry about that. Where's your daddy?"
"He's trying to put up a tent. It's quite funny." Killian smiled.
Killians dad shook his head at Killians remark, and walked over, and helped David put up the tent, making conversation as he did so. "Brennan? Do you want a drink? David?" Sarah offered, both of them denying her offer. "What are you kids going to do then?"
Killian shrugged. Then said, "Let's play football."
Emma looked at him as if he was crazy. "They call it soccer in America." Sarah corrected. Emma nodded and smiled back at her. Emma and Killian began to kick a blue ball around.
"Okay. Your goal is here. Mine is here." Killian stated, putting marking four points in the ground, making two goals.
They carried on kicking the ball around between themselves, Killian scoring a lot more than Emma. She was to scared to take the ball of him, because she didn't want to hurt him. Once David and Brennan had put up Emma and Davids tent, David sat on camping outdoor chairs with Sarah and Brennan, and Liam, still ignoring everyone and texting someone. Once Emma and Killian were tired, and has been playing for at least an hour, they went over to their parents.
Emma went and sat curled up on David's knee, her head against his chest. David held her close and kissed her head, on her hair. "So, Emma says you're from Boston." Sarah smiled.
"Yeah. Yeah, we are. I grew up in the country, and my wife, she lived in Boston, but that's not where we met. We," David smiled at the memory, "we met in New York. And she stole my wallet for a train out of town. I tried to find her, and I did. She gave me it back, told me her sad story, and I told her I'd drive her to wherever she wanted to go. We ended up in a little village in Maine. Lived there, fell in love, got married, had Emma, and when Emma was three, we moved to Boston. We are going to move back this September actually."
Emma smiled happily. She loved hearing about her parents story. She loved hearing anything about her mom. "So yeah, it was perfect. Until she got killed by a drunk driver three months ago."
"I'm so sorry about that." Brennan said regretfully, as did Sarah.
David nodded. "Thanks."
"I know how mum and dad fell in love!" Liam began teasingly.
"Liam, no." Sarah warned.
"Liam!" Brennan said firmly.
"Dad met mum at a party and she was drunk. Then they had sex. Then the next morning, they got into a fight, and mum slapped him because she didn't know what had happened. Then they fell in love."
"We don't like sharing that story." Sarah said embarrassed, but David just laughed.
They talked for a little while longer, both Emma and Killian tired and sat on their fathers knees. As it began to get late, David remembered that all of their stuff was still in the car. "Well, we're going to get off now. We have to unpack. But it was lovely talking to you. We'll see you tomorrow?"
"Of course." Sarah smiled.
"Bye Emma!" Killian shouted as she walked away, holding her father's hand.
"Bye." She said quietly, turning around slightly and waving.
David got all of their bags and belonging that they needed in from the car, and put them into the tent. It had three sections; a larger living area, and two small sleeping sections. David knew that there was no chance of Emma sleeping alone- she hadn't since the night her mother died.
They ate pre-packaged pasta, then David unpacked the food, all wrapped and bagged up, a freezer with ice and lollies in, two outdoor chairs, and two plastic tables, along with a large outdoor bean bag, all of which he kept inside, in the living area.
"Are you sleeping in with me?" David unnecessarily asked, receiving a yes in return.
He decided to put the food into the other sleeping area, and put two roll mats out on the floor of the other, lining it neatly, then another two on top of that. Next he put a thick duvet on the floor, along with mountain of pillows and cushions, and thick fleecy blankets and two more duvets. It was warm and cosy, like a nest full of bedding. Almost satisfied, David put up a string of fairy lights on the tent ceiling, then left.
"Okay, do you want an early night? It's been a long day and a long light and I bet you're a bit jet lagged and very very tired." David asked Emma softly. She nodded. "Okay kiddo." He rooted in Emma's suitcase, and pulled out a pair of pyjamas; a cotton, button down shirt with pastel flowers on the white material, and matching long bottoms. She got changed, and David brushed her hair softly.
"Okay. Flip-flops on, and you can go to the toilet and we can brush our teeth, because I have been very lazy and not collected any water, so we have to go all the way to the toilet and wash block, or the tap."
Emma smiled up at him, and slipped on her glittery pink flip-flops, and grabbed her wash bag, then David. She held his hand as they left the tent and went to the communal toilet and wash block. As Emma brushed her teeth, Killian walked in, holding his mum's hand. He was still in his grass stained and muddy denim shorts, and a slightly dirty green top, still barefoot, his hair still wild. Emma spat out her used toothpaste, and smiled at him.
"Hi Emma!" Killian grinned.
"Hi." She whispered back, with a brief flicker of a smile.
"I'm brushing my teeth before bed. Because it is a busy day tomorrow so I am going to bed early. I'm going swimming in the river! Mummy promised me because I didn't today. You can to."
"Yes please." Emma whispered horsely.
"Great!" Killian beamed, Sarah smiling at the two of them, as did David.
"I'm going to bed now." Emma said softly.
"Okay. Goodnight." Killian smiled, then he hugged her quickly. The hug took Emma by surprise, but she hugged him back, making David smiled grow even brighter.
"Goodnight." Emma smiled at him, then at Sarah.
"Night night sweetie." Sarah smiled back. Emma and David waved goodbye as they left.
A few minutes later, they were back in the safety of their tent, Emma nestled in blankets and against David. "Daddy," she whispered, "tell me a story about mommy again."
This happened every night. "Once upon a time, there was a beautiful woman called Mary Margaret. She was the kindest person in the whole wide world. And she was the happiest person too, because she had the best little girl ever. And she always needed her to know one thing. That she was always with her."
David went on and on, after Emma was asleep, until he fell asleep. Talking about his lost love to his only love. Hoping that maybe this summer, getting away from everything was a good thing. Already, Emma was beginning to become more confident. In half a day. Maybe she was going to be okay. That's all he wanted. For her to be okay.
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Goodbye isn't always foreverFanfiction
David Nolan has just lost his beloved wife, and his six year old daughter, Emma, is devasted. In need to get away, he books a holiday to a tiny costal village in Ireland, away from everyone and everything he knows. Then Emma meets a little boy who...