She watched the girl run about the playground protectively, watching, alert for any danger that might befall the child.

She watched as the girl ran up to the slide and climb it. She watched each step, waiting for a foot to slip so she could fly and catch the girl. When the girl reached the top, she looked over to the woman and smiled and waved before sitting down and sliding to the bottom. She climbed again and again until she got bored.

The girl ran to the roundabout and sat down, pushing herself round and round, eyes glittering in glee. When it got fast enough, she just sat there, waving and calling out a 'goodbye' each time she passed the woman. The woman couldn't help but smile.

The child got off and ran round the playground, playing a game of tag with the other children. The woman gasped as the child tripped over and fell to the ground. She went to jump up and run to the young girl, but the girl got up, dust3ed her hands and continued with the game, unharmed. The woman relaxed, enjoying the time she spent watching the girl run about, enjoying her freedom.

Time passed as time does when one is having fun, and one by one the other children left. Soon their time was up and it was time to return home.

The woman got up, grabbed her bag, and with a last glance to the playground, walked off, alone, the phantom girl's laughter still echoing behind her: a reminder of what should have been.