Well, whadayya know! Who would've ever imagined writing this chapter would be as much fun as it has turned out to be? It goes to show that I need to spend less time worrying about how "developed, motivated, blah blah blah" the characters are and just let them have fun out there.
Something inside her told her that Jean was around. She was hiding, not wanting to be seen by May for some reason.
"I hope you're not still mad at me for talking to Saras." May called out.
At last a pale voice, unmistakenably Jean's, filtered through the trees. "I'm not mad at you."
"Then show yourself. Please."
Jean's head poked out through a lowering branch May hadn't noticed earlier. She was still in her pinafore. Limberly she slid down to the grass with a muted thud, then took one look at May and become slightly agitated.
"You...you've become older."
"Please, Jean," May sounded dead serious. "Tell me what caused this."
"It's Saras," she shook her head and sniffed. "She cast a spell on you."
"I'm really, really sorry that I have to say this, Jean, but...I'm finding it very hard to believe you."
Jean's eyes quivered wide in fear. "Why?"
"Look - I'm aging fifteen years every night and I'm begging you to give me a clue. Surely you must know something. Your friend Misha...what happened to her? How did she end up becoming old like me as well?"
"I don't know," she started sobbing. "It's all so confusing. Oh, why can't we just leave this all behind and have our beautiful picnics and walks and happy days forever?"
Jean tugged at her hand and forced a smile. "I built a new treehouse. Want to have a look?"
"Snap out of it!" May felt like slapping her.
"What do you want from me?"
Her shriek was so unexpected and ear-piercing that May swore the entire garden became still as a picture. It then occurred to May that no one knew where she was.
"First it was Auntie Lilian. Then Saras. Then the teachers. Then Misha. And now you. It's just too much fun picking on Jean, isn't it? Oh look, it's Jean the weirdo. There she goes again, talking to herself about weird stuff with her weird face and her weird clothes in her weird voice. Of course I'm crazy. Of course you don't trust me. Saras must be right! Saras must be right! I'm the evil black magic witch casting voodoo spells on you! Right?"
May didn't know what to make of this crazed outburst. Fear, however, was most definitely creeping in. Harmless she might appear, but Jean probably knew every inch of this garden.