They were camping. It was supposed to be a relaxing break from the hectic pace of the last few weeks. They were so busy with work, both doctors working at the same hospital. Camping was a luxury they tried to indulge in twice during each summer. This campsite was new to them, wanting to try somewhere different for a change.
They loved the outdoors life and would go walking during the day, proper walks that would be an all day activity, returning to camp in the early evening. This was to be no different from any other holiday they went on. Or so they thought.
They woke up to a hive of activity just behind their tent. A man was digging up the ground watched by some interested campers. What was going on? He seemed determined in whatever he was looking for. They noticed the digging was in the shape of a coffin, looking at each other they approached the man.
"Is everything ok," asked Michelle, the psychiatrist.
"I think my wife is buried here," he said in a distressed voice. "I've got to find her."
"What makes you think she is buried here?" asked Michelle, trying to assess his state of mind.
"She disappeared from this site six months ago," he responded.
She looked more closely at him and noticed a wild look in his eyes, a manic look that told her things were not quite right here. But of course losing his wife in this way would be traumatic, she told herself.
"Why don't you stop for now? Take a break. We'll make a cup of tea for you," she said soothingly. A crowd was starting to develop and she wanted to get him away from the curious onlookers if possible.
He shook his head, without speaking. He didn't want to stop; he was just focused on his missing wife and finding her.
"What makes you think she is dead and buried here?" she asked.
"This was the last place I saw her. She was just popping down to the shop to buy some milk and she never came back," he said wringing his hands hopelessly.
The shop was half a mile down the road and sold everything that was likely to be needed on a campsite.
"What did the police say?"
"Them, they were useless. They just said there was nothing they could do. Initially, they spoke to everyone here at the time to see if anyone remembered seeing her and they asked in the shop. No one remembered seeing her and she didn't go into the shop that day."
Michelle looked at her husband, also a psychiatrist and shrugged. Something wasn't quite right here, she tried to communicate this and he gave a nod of understanding.
He tried taking the spade from the distraught man saying, "Come on, put this down and we will make you a nice cup of tea."
The man didn't take any notice, he may not even have heard, he was so intent on his task.
Eventually, they managed to get the spade away from him and led him to their tent where they sat him down on a chair. Michelle made him a cup of sweet tea thinking he might be in shock. He certainly didn't seem right to her.
"Did you have an argument?" she asked eventually.
"No," he replied, still looking wild. He glanced anxiously around, eyes darting everywhere, not settling on any one place.
"She must be here, she wouldn't leave me. She wouldn't."
"It's all right," she said soothingly.
Whilst she sat talking to the stranger, trying to calm him down, her husband was ringing the police, thinking they might be able to help.
"That must be Ivan you are talking about. He lives in the village. He does this every now and again. His wife died six years ago of cancer and he never got over it. He hasn't accepted that she has gone; he thinks she will turn up again one day. We will come out and collect him," said the officer on the phone.