Cousin

I might have done something daft. I’m not sure. I’m getting a bit of a Pandora’s box feeling, but I owe it to Granny to find out all I can about Nate.

I thought about the wrong age thing all that night when I got home from the restaurant. Another thing I’ve noticed lately is that I don’t seem to sleep properly any more. I go to bed out of habit but I lie awake most of the night and I don’t feel tired. Anyway, it kept troubling me.

Because I know there is something Nate isn’t telling us.

I believe him at this point that he is who he says he is. He knows too much about his and Granny’s affair, and the way he chats about his old life, it’s just too casual and easy-breezy for someone who has just Googled “what were childhoods like in 1930s America.” But all the same – there’s something about him. I can’t put my finger on it, but I will not let him hurt my Granny.

She bashed somebody’s brains out for me, after all.

So sometime in the wee hours I got up and did some searching for him online. I’d done a brief Google before, obviously, but this time I went deep. I went to the archives of his local newspaper in Indiana and found an article about him winning some American football championship thingy while in high school.

Then there was a brief blurb about ‘Our Boys Going to Fight Hitler.’ It’s so funny how Americans word that. You’d think they were all going to personally take on ol’ Adolf in hand to hand combat. But it was a sweet article, full of pride and yankee-doodle-dandy-ness and for a brief moment I felt sad again, for the years Nate had lost.

There was a photo with the article and I zoomed in on it until I saw Nate’s face clearly. He was a good bit younger than he was now. The photo would have been taken around a year before he came back to Scotland anyway, but he is more than a year older now. Maybe if he’d seen combat that could explain some extra ageing, but of all the things to lie about, that seems the least likely, so I believe he saw the war out in Port Glasgow.

And he is certainly not in his nineties either, so the time vortex thingmy is also true.

But there are some years unaccounted for.

I’m sure of it.

I kept searching.

After a few dead ends, I stumbled across one of those forums where people put out messages to search for long lost relatives. I scrolled through a posts and posts of adoptees searching for siblings they had been separated from, grandkids in Australia hoping to track down relatives back in the U.K., one lady looking for her father’s long lost forces sweetheart. And then I saw it.

Hey! I’m Casey Jenkins, I live in Wakeboro, Indiana and I’m looking for any information anybody has on my Great-uncle Nathan Jenkins who disappeared in WWII. We know he was stationed in Scotland. The army wrote us that he came back to the U.S. on the ship with his platoon, but he never made it home. My grandma Judy is his sister and she would love to know what happened to him.

The post was dated four years ago, and there were no replies. No wonder, to be fair. Wherever we went in this time vortex thingmy, it was unlikely somebody had wifi so they could pop up a wee a reply up saying ‘He’s here in this time vortex thingmy with me! He says hello.’

I copied Casey’s email address and entered it into the search bar. Right away, her Facebook page popped up, and I actually gasped out loud when I saw her profile picture. It was like looking in a mirror.

Same hair, same eyes, even the same daft smile. She was even posing with a paddleboard, for heaven’s sake, on a beach somewhere. The one thing that kept me from suspecting it was actually a picture of me was that she had a tan and I’m Scottish.

Roddy saw her. In America. When I was disappeared.

When I first got back (I never know how to phrase that, because I didn’t actually go anywhere), Cara wasn’t talking to me because Roddy told her he saw me in the States. In Indiana, where Casey lives. Cara thought I’d just taken off to get over my breakup with Craig and left them all to worry. But now it made sense.

Before I could change my mind, I shot off a message to her.

Hiya, my name is Linley Ross and I live in Glasgow, Scotland. I came across your post on the wherearetheynow website and I think I might know something about your great-uncle. Feel a bit funny writing about it – maybe we could Skype sometime? Linley

I pressed enter quickly, and almost instantly I saw that wee ‘seen’ tick. Of course – it was still evening for her. She was probably sitting mucking about with her phone watching telly or something. I waited a few moments, but no Casey is typing notification came so I shut down Facebook, feeling a bit of a stalker. She could reply to me in her own time.

It was then I noticed it was starting to get light. I made myself a cup of tea then I curled up on the window seat of our bay window and watched dawn break over Glasgow. I was still sitting there when the police thudded on the door to inform me that Rab McAllister’s remains had been found.

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