Tragedy at Kensington Gardens

by Elegant Butler

The day began with a comfortable chill in the air.

Paula Lynch smiled as she watched her five year old daughter, Jareth, eat her favorite cereal. The chocolate one with the marshmallow bats.

It was Jareth's regular habit to eat the oat bits from the cereal first, saving up the marshmallows as a sort of dessert.

"Looking forward to our skating trip?" Bryce asked through a toothbrush as he joined them, still in his bathrobe and pajama bottoms.

"Yep," Jareth giggled, leaving her half-finished cereal long enough to give her dad a hug.

"Finish your breakfast before it gets soggy," Paula instructed.

"'kay, mummy," Jareth agreed, digging into the marshmallow bit of her breakfast.

Bryce returned to the bathroom to finish brushing his teeth. He reflected, sadly, that, unless they decided to adopt, Jareth would never have a brother or sister. Paula's uterine wall had been very thin, and had ruptured during childbirth, nearly killing her. It was for this reason that both she and Jareth were even more precious to him.

He looked at the thin moustache that was starting to form above his lip. It looked rather nice on him, he decided. It had been Paula's idea for him to start growing one. And maybe a beard in a year or so. Though he wasn't completely sold on that idea. He didn't want to look scruffy.

Finishing up his morning routine, he headed off to the bedroom to get dressed. It was going to be a fun day. Jareth had been skating at the rink several times, but today she was going to enjoy a bit of outdoor skating for the very first time.

With Christmas only three days away, Bryce and Paula had decided to treat her to a day at Kensington Gardens.

"Are you ladies ready?" he asked as he joined them in the living room.

"You think Sally will be there?" Jareth asked, thinking of the rink.

"We'll see," Bryce said, noncommittally. He had arranged for Jareth's friends to be at the park so that she would be happy. It was to be his early Christmas present for her.

When they passed the rink, Jareth pouted.

"Daddy, you said we're going skating." she reminded him, firmly.

"Didn't say where," Bryce told her.

Paula smiled. "Remember the story daddy read us about the boy who was always young?"

"Peter Pan?" Jareth asked. "Yeah. Why?"

"We're going skating where his statue is," Bryce told her. "And at lunchtime we'll meet your Auntie Dom and Uncle Reg at the cafe there for fish and chips."

"Ooh! Fun!" Paula exclaimed.

"Fun fun!" Jareth agreed.

Edison and Theora were at the park with their two-year-old son Jeremy when Bryce pulled the old beat up green and blue Ford Prefect into the parking lot at Kensington Gardens.

Although Bryce still did freelance work for Edison's team, the two hadn't seen or spoken to each other since Jareth's birth. Bryce didn't dislike Edison. He had simply been putting the main emphasis of his life on his family.

"Edison," Theora said, seeing the young family getting out of the old car. "Is that who I think it is?"

"Bryce Lynch," Edison laughed. "I don't believe it. Where'd you pick up the old clunker?"

"Sully's," Bryce shrugged. "yeah, he's a little shifty. But he's not bad if you're not looking for anything specific."

"What is that, an Anglia?" Edison eyed the car, curiously.

"Prefect," Bryce explained.

"Who's this, Daddy?" Jareth asked.

"I don't think I'll ever get used to hearing someone call you Daddy," Theora told Bryce. "And is that a moustache I see?"

"The beginning of one," Bryce admitted. "Paula likes it. She wants me to grow a beard, too. I don't know about that. Too scruffy, I think."

"Make you look like a king," Paula pointed out.

"Maybe so, I just haven't warmed up to the idea yet. Maybe in another year or two."

"Daddy, can I go skating?" Jareth asked.

"You can walk around the pond, but don't go onto the ice until Mommy and I check it for you, okay?"

"Okay," Jareth said, skipping off to the pond which was several yards away.

"How old is your little one?" Bryce asked, looking at Edison's son.

"Jeremy turned two last weekend," Edison told him. "He…"

A sudden sound, like a crack of thunder, drew everyone's attention.

"JARETH!" Bryce and Paula both screamed.

They raced to the pond, seeing that she was nearly in the middle of it. A large crack had appeared in the ice.

Paula was the first onto the ice, racing into the middle and hugging her child. Bryce followed, and was halfway there before Paula stopped him.

"Don't come out any further, Bryce!" She warned. "I'm going to whip her to you. You whip her to the shore."

"Paula! No! You won't make it back!"

"Neither of us will if I don't," Paula said. "We can't all make it back to the shore."

Bryce looked at the ice between him and the shore. He knew if he tried to cross it with his daughter, they would both fall through.

"Edison," he said as Edison and Theora reached the shore. "Don't let her back out here!"

Theora already had tears in her eyes, knowing at that moment that she was about to watch a good friend die.

It took three seconds for Bryce and Paula to whipsnap Jareth to the shore where she was snatched up by Edison and Theora.

It took a fraction of that time for both of them to disappear from sight as the ice gave way beneath them.

"Mommy! Daddy!" Jareth screamed out for them as she struggled in Edison's firm but gentle grip. "Come up! Come out of the water! Not funny, Mommy! Not funny, Daddy."

"No," Theora agreed sadly. "Not funny. Not funny at all."

"Hide and seek?"Jareth asked Edison, looking at the water.

"No," Edison shook his head. "Not hide and seek."

Jareth frowned. "Daddy said that if anything bad happened to him, I'd go to Auntie Dom and Uncle Reg's place. Is this an anything bad?"

Theora nodded. "Yes, Jareth. This is a very bad."

"Oh," Jareth said, and she dissolved into tears.

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