She’d always known she would become a problem. It had been engrained in her since she turned thirteen. This rebellious streak she couldn’t seem to temper, her unwillingness to listen to authority. Typical teenage angst. Typical adult reaction.
So when Julian, the boy she’d been infatuated with for the past year, disappeared, she knew trouble was coming.
The moon rose over yet another household, over yet another uncomfortable bed, over yet more gushing niceties and promises that she’d be loved, she’d be taken care of.
She didn’t need it.
When her bed lay empty and the police were once again called and the search party began in the town with the masses already suspecting she was looting or drinking or stealing a car, they of course failed to search the obscure places she’d often head to.
This time it was the local builder’s yard. Unused for years, it was more of a mechanical graveyard than anything else. Outside the warehouse filled with broken machinery and rusting shells of cars, the dusty parking lot, once busy with the comings and goings of hauliers, was eerily quiet and empty, except for her, lying on her back, blinking at the sun.
She did this often. The sunlight piercing into her eyes was a test of her resolve. How long could she stare before it became uncomfortable? Was thirty seconds enough?
There was no right answer in this battle of stupidity and science. Sometimes it would be thirty seconds, sometimes it was longer, much longer.
It took as long as it took for a reason other than foolishness. It was all about focus. Being able to blank out her mind, burn her thoughts, phase out her surroundings until there was nothing there but him.
It didn’t take long. Footsteps crunching on the dirt near her released a smile onto her face. She sat up. Time had moved on. The sun, now lowering towards the hills took away his features, leaving him silhouetted in front of her, the sun sitting like a halo behind him.
His identity was hidden in the darkness of his frame, but she knew it was him.
She always knew it was them.
‘How did it happen?’ she said calmly.
‘My father,’ he said with a look of sadness. ‘He’s not a well man.’
Then he relayed the story of his demise as she remembered back to every ounce of attention she’d been paying him that year. Staring at his face as she noticed cuts and bruises which she overheard him brush off as ‘war wounds from soccer’. Hearing him cry in the corridors then beat on the nerdy kid to cover his tracks. Holding a razor to his wrist in the bathroom with a shaking hand as his screams permeated deep into her psyche and the nightmare of his situation haunted her sleep.
She nodded knowingly and could see his anger rising.
‘You knew?’ he shouted. ‘You knew what he would do but did nothing.’
It wasn’t her place. She’d been where he was. She knew exactly what emotions were running through him.
‘I found you. That’s what I do. Without me, there’s no you. Just a body hidden and undiscovered. I know which I’d prefer but I didn’t get that choice.’
Any reaction from him was immediately stopped in its tracks by a barrage of shouting and footsteps as police officers rushed towards the warehouse. Vehicles moved into place, the area cordoned off.
As Julian’s silhouette dissolved into the diminishing sunlight, she laid back in the dirt. No one saw her shadow fade in the middle of that parking lot or reappear sitting on the bench at the bus stop, her packed suitcase next to her.
This was the place they always found her when she ran away.
While she waited, she unfolded a yellowing, torn page from a newspaper. The article on it dated 11th October 1972. The headline read ‘Where is missing 13 year old Tilly Henderson?’
She ran her finger over the words, wiped a single tear as it fell from her eye.
‘Matilda?’ a voice near her asked.
She turned calmly to see the usual suspects waiting to take her to yet another uncomfortable bed and more gushing niceties and promises, but it was exactly where she needed to be.
Someone was about to go missing.
1. Don’t play by the rules.
2. Dark side
3. Navigating through the dark
5. Not seeing the entire picture.
6. Nature brings remedy
Jaime‘s love of writing grew during her time at Cambridge University while studying a B.Ed in Drama. Whist her day job sees her successfully writing and directing stage productions for children, at night, her other writing life concentrates on sci-fi, fantasy and some darker themes. She surprises herself sometimes where her characters take her and loves how deeply involved she can get in creating the visuals for new worlds.
She believes losing yourself in a story is a must and thrives on taking readers on that journey.