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  1. 1. 8________________________________________________AwakeI smiled and stepped aside to let her in.She stepped in and took her shoes off leaving them by the door like she always did. I’d neveractually told her that she needed to take her shoes off, but she always did anyway so I didn’tcomplain.I looked at my watch again. It was very nearly twelve. So what was she doing at my house at thistime? If she’d had something to tell me then she would’ve rang me not come out two bus rides tosee me at this time. I was going to ask her this when I looked up at her.She was staring at me. I tried to read her face. Nothing. She was good at masking what she wasthinking when she felt like it. I abandoned the thought of trying to read her look and asked myprevious question.‘So why’re you out so late then?’‘Why were you out so late? That’s what I came to ask’ she surprised me by asking.‘What do you mean-what was I doing out? Who said I was out?’ I tried to sound oblivious.Hayleigh laughed ‘I rang you on your home phone and it went to the answering service so it waskind of obvious’.‘I just popped out to the shops, that’s all. Why all the fuss?’ I couldn’t hide I was gettingfrustrated.‘You ran to the shops and back?’‘Who said I ran?’‘No one. I heard. And then you put the phone down on me and I couldn’t ring back because yourphone was either switched off or conked out’.Now I had to admit she had me there. How did she know all that? Knowing Hayleigh she hadears like a bat, so when she was on the phone it was quite simple to work things out.She read me like a book.‘I’m right aren’t I?’ she smiled a little.I considered for a minute. Telling her was going to mean that she knew and could do whatevershe wanted with the information. Like tell the police, and I definitely did not want them involvedmaking things more complicated.‘So, I’ll take that as a yes?’ she snapped me put of my thoughts.I said nothing.She laughed ‘so…. You gonna tell me’.‘There’s not much I know, to be honest. Only little pieces and everything I find out just makes itmore complicated’ I sighed.‘Oh stop! You’re intriguing me! Tell me before I burst’. I had to laugh at that. If only the situation were funny.So I told her as much as I knew, which wasn’t much. Right from the beginning where I found outabout Lynette outside of the surgery down to what happened when I went to get something to eat.She listened and didn’t interrupt, but her face said everything.‘Why didn’t you tell the police? We can still do it now’.I frowned. Exactly what I’d imagined her to say. ‘Tell the police and then what? What good canthey do but take statements and make things more twisted? My mind’s twisted enough as it is,thank you very much’.‘I was’nt saying do anything like that. I meant more indirect’.I raised an eyebrow ‘like what? Ring and leave an anonymous call?’Hayleigh laughed ‘Okay, maybe that’s not such a good idea. But we’ve got to do something.Sitting here is’nt going to make things any better’.‘What do you suggest then?’She thought for a moment ‘ have you spoken to your mum? She might know’.
  2. 2. I shook my head ‘ Tried that. And she played unknowing , which is what I thought she was goingto do. Whenever I’ve asked her about Lynette she doesn’t usually say much more than the veryobvious which is part of what I already know’.‘So you think she knows then?’ Hayleigh tried to figure it out.‘I doubt it. She’s my mother. I don’t think she’d keep it from me if she knew Lynette was alive.She probably doesn’t want to talk about it’.Hayleigh sat in silence after that. It was like you could see the wheels in her head turning.Mine weren’t turning, they were spinning like spinning tops. I tried desperately to think of someway-there had to be some way. Only whenever I tried to think another thought would push itselfinto view.‘That man’ Hayleigh almost made me jump by the sudden change in noise ‘do you know wherehe works or who’s sending him? That might help a little.’‘If only I did. Lets not think about it anymore. I think I need to get some sleep.’ I turned to her ‘Ican drop you home if you want?’She looked at me as if I’d just suggested we spend the night sleeping in a lions pen.‘If you think I’m going to leave you alone here, then you must be mad.’‘What? Do you think he’s going to come after me?’ I mocked lightly laughing.‘Well you said he asked you for your address’.‘So? What difference does that make?’‘Did you tell him?’ Hayleigh’s face suddenly went serious.‘What do you think? Of course I didn’t. What type of question is that?’ I didn’t hide soundingsurprised.‘Well, I’m not being funny but if you walked down behind the flats at eleven o clock at night,then I’ve got to ask.’‘It was nine actually, when I left’ I corrected.Hayleigh’s face softened ‘ Nine then-whatever. But I’m not leaving you here’.I gave in at that point ‘Fine, if you don’t mid sleeping on the sofa bed?’‘Not a bit’ She smiled.I returned her smile and we went about getting the bed undone.It was a long time since I’d used the pull out bed. Usually when Hayleigh or anyone else came tostay, they stayed upstairs in the spare bedroom. But I’d turned that into a temporary work room soit was full of papers and medicines and charts and stuff like that, so she couldn’t sleep in there.Once I’d got the bed out, I fetched a duvet from the cupboard while Hayleigh helped herself tosome old shorts of mine to sleep in.They were a bit small as I hadn’t worn them for a few years, but she still fitted in them wellenough.‘Where’ re you going to sleep then?’ She asked when she was dressed.I pointed to the lounger by the piano ‘I can sleep there. You’re the one with the back problem, soyou need the bed’.‘Thanks’ she smiled and got into bed.I went to switch the lights off and then got back on the lounger and pulled the duvet up over me.I wanted to go to sleep more than anything else right now, so that maybe my mind would shutdown and I could relax. If I stared around the room, that wasn’t going to help. So I pulled theduvet up on me and tried to close my eyes.‘Verity’.‘Mmm?’ I shoved the duvet from my head.‘W-what’s your mums name?I struggled to sit up to look at her ‘Dawn. Why?’Hayleigh shook her head ‘Just wondered’.I smiled at that ‘You wonder the strangest of things’.‘I know’ she smiled back ‘Night’.
  3. 3. ‘Night’ I replied and laid back down.I shoved my head under the duvet again. I so wanted to do that with life right now. Shove myhead in the sand for a few months or years and then come back out when everything was solvedand was going right. I sighed inwardly. I’d done that a lot in the last day. Sigh for this-sigh forthat. Why couldn’t I just be like everybody else and deal with things instead of wishing themaway. Everybody moved forward when they had problems and got over them some way or theother-except me. I stayed stuck in a grove like a scratched record, just going over and over thesame thing.Hayleigh was obviously asleep, as I could hear her. Soft breathing like she was having a nicedream.I envied her. Asleep just like that.I closed my eyes and burrowed my head into my pillow. But my mind didn’t shut, It just workedovertime thinking. Thinking about something that had happened a very long time ago. Three verylong years ago. A lifetime ago.I lay on my bed at mum and dads house and cried like I’d only just discovered how.My sister who was so close to me had died. Just like that. Disappeared. And the worse thing was Inever could comfort myself by saying at least I knew how she died, because I didn’t.Dad always used to say never to wish for something because your wish may actually come true.For the first time I understood it in the truest sense.I remember laying at home on that night Lynette went missing and wishing like mad for her tocome back. And then even when Mum and Dad told me she was dead I still wished it eventhough I kind of knew it was impossible.Now my wish really had come true.In the worse way possible.
  4. 4. 9______________________________________________Gail WarrenI must’ve gone to sleep because when I opened my eyes I could see a little bit of light seepingthrough the living room blinds. I usually felt at peace when I saw the light in the morning, only Ididn’t today. It was more depressing than anything that there was another day ahead of me.Another day of not knowing and not knowing where to go next.I inhaled sharply and looked up at the ceiling. It was a dark cream color really but it looked adense black in the half dark.I looked over at the wall clock. Almost six in the morning. That meant I’d only slept for about sixhours. A smile crept onto my face. I went to bed last night thinking I’d be able to clear my mindfor a few hours and hopefully feel better in the morning and now I’d woken up I felt considerablyworse.I had so many things to do. Too many and yet my mind was on one thing. Never had I wished toturn back time so much. I had thoughts of setting my alarm on my phone to wake me up later andgo to sleep again- simply because I didn’t want to think. Cowardly I know but I really didn’t wantto think. I picked up my phone from the side table next to the TV and flipped it open. There was aflashing blue envelope on the screen which meant that I had a message. I toyed with the idea ofjust leaving it but curiosity got the better of me. I opened it and was surprised to see it was frommum. Mum never texts me. She always rang me or came to see me so what was so different aboutnow?Hi love,I’m not at home today , so don’t come because the house is empty.I’ll ring later and speak to you.ByeI smiled at that. Mum wrote the way she spoke. She never shortened things when she spoke soshe didn’t do it when she was on the phone. The smile was gone as quickly as it’d come though.Mum didn’t have a job. She quit her government job when Lynette died. So she said anyway. Soshe couldn’t be going to work, I knew that. So why was she texting me at six in the morning totell me that she wasn’t going to be at home?I suddenly thought of what Jill had said. She said that mum said she wasn’t going to be here nextweek some time. Was it next week some time? I couldn’t even remember.She couldn’t be going on holiday. Her and dad were always going on about how they werestrapped for cash after she quit. Funny though how it didn’t show though. They still had their twocars, a reasonable sized house and all the luxuries that not everybody had.Mum quit her job about a year after Lynette died, when I moved away to live here- I know shedid. Well I didn’t really. I just believed what mum and dad had told me.I sighed heavily and slumped back against the back of the lounger. Just like that I had anotherworry. Another thing I didn’t know. Another thing I wasn’t sure about. I’d been sure of it allthese years, why not now? Why now of all times when I had enough things to sort out?I threw the duvet off and swung round to sit on the edge of the sofa.I folded up the duvet and put it in the cupboard where it was before.I crept as quietly as I could over to my PC by the window trying to quieter the squeaky noises onthe floor by walking slowly.I clicked on the hard drive and then the monitor and waited for it to load up. I wasn’t going to sithere anymore. I really wanted to go to sleep, and zone out, but it was obvious that wasn’t going tohappen with all the things I had to think about.
  5. 5. The screen brightened and set itself up quickly enough. I turned on the side lamp on my desk nextto me and tried to open my eyes a bit more. They kept shutting like they wanted to go to sleep butthen I never could.I ignored my shutting eyelids and clicked onto the internet.Now for the hard part. I didn’t know what to put in the search box. Lynette or April 29th orLynette’s disappearance?I settled for the last one and googled it. It came up almost immediately with a list of results. Morethan I’d expected actually.The first one was about Lynette’s family history which wasn’t what I wanted.The second wasn’t much help and neither was the third. I clicked on the extract they had from theLondon paper for that day and waited for it to appear on the screen.When it did I started or attempted to read. Much of it was giving me stuff about what led up toher disappearance which I already knew. I skipped to the middle where they started to talk about where they thought she was.‘-No one knows exactly why she left. Her mother refuses to give any information on any othermatters that may have lead up to this and so does her father’Now that I didn’t know. Mum and Dad had always told me the police didn’t ask them muchquestions. I stared at the screen until it blurred and re read it to see if there was anything more Icould get from it.‘You alright Verity? It’s only half six’.Hayleigh was walking over to join me.‘I didn’t even hear you get up’ I laughed ‘No, I couldn’t sleep so I thought I might as well try dosome research’.‘Find anything?’ She asked scanning the screen for herself.I shrugged ‘Nothing more than what I knew already’. I didn’t want to tell her what I’d found outabout mum and dad until I found out if it was completely true or not.‘Who’s Gail Warren?’ Hayleigh was more speaking to herself than me.I looked to where her finger was and read.‘Just some woman that disappeared the same day as Lynette I guess’ I turned back to read what I was previously.‘Exactly. She disappeared on the same day. She must’ve had something to do with it’ Hayleighsaid still scrutinizing the screen, her eyes narrowed.I frowned ‘Why? Just because she went on the same day it doesn’t mean she has something to dowith it’.‘I’m not saying that she definitely did, I’m just saying why would they have mentioned her nameunless she wasn’t relevant?’I paused. She did have a point. But that still didn’t make any sense.I looked back up at Hayleigh. She was still looking at the computer screen, her eyes piercingthrough it.I looked back to the screen to re read it all over again.‘What about Abbey? She might be able to help’ Hayleigh suggested eventually.‘Abbeys on holiday. Maybe when she comes back’ I paused reconsidering ‘Actually no. Ishouldn’t be getting everyone involved. It’s not fair to drag Abbey into it as well is it?’Hayleigh raised an eyebrow ‘So its okay to drag me into it then?’ She laughed ‘just joking, I’msure Abbey won’t mind’.‘I didn’t drag you into it anyway, remember? You came and inquired and pushed me to tell you’ Ipointed out.‘I know. Its not nice to leave people to cope on their own so I thought I’d only be being helpfulby offering’.I decided to rest my case. I didn’t want a little tiff now of all times.
  6. 6. ‘I’ll ring Abbey when I get home and ask her then, she wont mind helping out’ Hayleigh thoughtaloud.I shook my head ‘Don’t Hal, I’ll ask her when I’m ready, not now or it’ll spoil her holiday’.I had to use that as an excuse because the truth was I didn’t want anybody else involved to behonest. It was far to embarrassing already that people knew that I didn’t actually know the truthabout my own sister.Abbey was another of my close friends. She was on holiday. Well a very short one anyway. Sheleft last morning when I went off to work and was due back some time today I think.I wasn’t too sure; she didn’t really want to talk about her arrival timing when I last spoke to her.‘I’ll print these out and have a look at them a little later’ I said and pressed on the print icon at theside of the screen.‘Alright then, I might have a look through them with you later’ Hayleigh yawned looking at herwatch.‘Where’re you off to then?’ I asked.‘Work. It’s Tuesday today not Saturday’.‘I forgot. I’ve been in a different time zone recently’.‘I’m going to get dressed in the stuff I wore down here yesterday and then leave. What time’llyou be home?’ Hayleigh asked getting together her clothes.I shrugged ‘I’ll be here when you finish work probably’.‘But you usually finish after me’.‘I know’ I nodded and got up from the PC.Hayleigh frowned ‘You are going to work aren’t you?’I turned to look at her ‘I might do. Depends what I feel like by nine’.Hayleigh looked concerned ‘Go into work Verity, you’ll get bored doing ….doing nothing’.I looked at her ‘That wasn’t what you were going to say was it?’Hayleigh sighed ‘Just don’t do anything stupid’.‘What’s that supposed to mean?Hayleigh shook her head ‘Nothing, don’t worry. Just- just be careful’.I nodded as she turned towards the lounge door to leave. I sighed to myself. It was hard trying towork out what people meant, and Hayleigh I know was trying not to put ideas into my mind bysaying what she really meant. I knew what she meant but I didn’t bother ask her why that’d comeinto her head.I got up and pulled up the blinds in the room. The turquoise light streamed past the window panereflecting on the PC screen. I switched it to standby and went about going to the bathroom.I tapped on the oak door.‘Coming’ came her muffled reply.I went back downstairs. My stairway curved to stop at a landing and then went on and for the firsttime it felt like a long struggle to get to the bottom. Everything was in neat order like it alwayswas and the light coming in from the window on the landing was the same mid morning color andyet it felt dark. Or I felt dark. It was like the glow in me had gone out.I could remember just this time yesterday morning I was none the wiser to anything than I hadbeen the three years before. It was only a day ago but so much had happened in it, it felt likeweeks.I slipped on my slippers and picked up the mail lying on the door mat. The postman must’vecome early today I thought to myself. There was only one envelope today funnily enough.Probably a silly bill or something like that.I picked it up and looked at the back. It wasn’t a business envelope and there was no address onthe back of it. Just V.H, my initials in bold lettering on the front. No stamp, no nothing. Just theinitials. I fingered the brown envelope trying to see if there was anything I could tell from it. Itfelt light weight and it was very neat like it’d been hand delivered. Well, from everything I couldsee, it had been hand delivered. That was the thing that I didn’t get. Why wouldn’t whoever this
  7. 7. was from just post it. Unless they lived near me. But even that was stupid-if someone lived nearto me they wouldn’t write, they would ring or text or come see me.I ripped open the seal pulling out the paper inside.It was cool and crisp, but typed out. I looked to the top for the address of the sender but there wasnothing.I decided to just read the letter first.Verity,I was planning to tell you this when I saw you last night, but you ran off too quickly. Iwould suggest you read the contents of this letter very carefully.You say you don’t know what I’m on about in regards to your sister, which I don’tbelieve. No one from my firm does. But in the case that you really don’t, I’m willing togive you the benefit of the doubt.On the 15th of this month, why don’t you come down and see me and some of mycolleagues?We could talk things over and maybe explain what you really don’t know.Don’t bring anyone or a mobile phone with you.Come after 11pm and not before.Our location is by the top of London Bridge.Come, if you want to know more Verity. If you want to know about your past.D. MilerMy head spun and the whole room blurred. My legs felt like water and the floor beneath meswam.I rested against the wall to steady myself. I looked back at the paper. Why me? Why wouldn’tthis man just leave me alone?The words seemed so tranquil and kind, not demanding. But there were hidden meanings.Meanings that were subtly meant to draw me to into everything, and give in. But I really did wantto find out about Lynette and what was really going on. It didn’t look like I was going to find outanything on my own. Why did my life have to be so complicated? I could just go, find out andcome home. Simple as. Only I knew it wasn’t. There was a catch, somewhere. But they wereusing the fact that I didn’t know anything as bait to get me hooked. He can’t have been that muchunder cover or anything because he gave his name. D. Miler. I had to try and find things out formyself first but that wasn’t working….‘You alright?’ Hayleigh was coming down the stairs.I nodded ‘Just got a headache’.She stopped halfway getting her shoes on.‘Are you sure you don’t want me to stay with you?’ she looked up at me from her bent positionover he sling backs.‘Hayleigh, I’m fine. I’ll be fine. I don’t need watching over’.‘Its just, you said you had a headache….’‘I’ve had headaches before you know, I’ll just get some water or something’ I dismissed it.She nodded and opened the door and then stepped out.She turned back to me ‘I’ll ring and see if you’re okay’.I nodded and shut the door behind her.
  8. 8. I had things to do. Lots. I wasn’t going into work today. I’d made my mind up about that thismorning when I woke up. I wasn’t going until I’d sorted my life out.I looked back down at the letter in my hand. I felt a sudden pang of ice run up my spine.Something told me, that this was going to be my very last moment of normality I’d see in a long,long time.10____________________________________________________Disbelief
  9. 9. I couldn’t think straight for the life of me. My head spun like a wheel and my mind was a blur.The phone suddenly rang making me jump. I staggered over to the hall table to get it. I paused ,my hand hovering over the receiver. Who was it? I wanted to know that before I picked the phoneup but I wouldn’t. He wouldn’t know my number. He just couldn’t. But somehow he knew myname, my whole full name and my home address so he could do……. I picked it up and answered it.‘Hello?’ my voice came out small.‘Hello is that Verity?’ a woman’s voice said.I bit my lip ‘Yes. W-who is this?’‘It’s Fiona. Are you alright?’I let out a sigh of relief ‘Oh hi Fiona. Yeah I’m alright. Why?’‘Well you didn’t come back into work after yesterday morning so everyone thought you were illor something’.‘No, no. I just had stuff to sort out that’s all’ I dismissed.‘Yeah, but who were those men that wanted to see you. They didn’t give their names to me. Werethey relatives or something?’ she wasn’t going to give up.What to say? What to say?‘Just people that wanted to talk to me that’s all. I need to go now though’.There was silence for a moment on the other side of the line then a sigh ‘What’re you not tellingme?’I laughed ‘There’s nothing to tell. Two men came to talk to me and now I’ve got some sorting outto do. Now you know as much as I do’..‘If you say so, but if you need any help then do ask me’.‘I will’.‘So you’re not coming in today then?’ she had to bring up another subject.‘No. I’m really tired anyway. I might see you in a few days’ I faked a yawn.‘Alright then, I’ll put in your leave for you for the next few days. But if you’re off any longerthan that then I’ll have reason to be worried’.‘I smiled ‘Don’t worry. I’ll be in by next week. See you then’. I hung up before she could ask memore questions or probe any further.I leaned against the wall again and rested my head. I felt hot and very tired but every time I triedto go to sleep I thought of something and then that would keep me awake.There had to be something I could do that would be more effective than standing here and lettingmy imagination run wild. What I really needed to do was go and see mum and try get her to tellme more about Lynette. But mum wasn’t at home, so that didn’t help.But I had a key to the house, so I could go myself. Even if mum wasn’t there I could do my owninvestigating. If she knew anything more that she wasn’t telling me, then there had to be somesigns lying about the house somewhere. I’d look for those.I had a quick shower and got dressed in something casual and comfy.I slipped on my flat sandals and my sued jacket and went to find my bag.I pout my purse and my mobile in it and then went to the door to leave. Then I had secondthoughts. I picked up the house phone and put that in my bag as well. Hayleigh did say she’d ringand I didn’t want her making a fuss if she found out that I was out. With that I left. I closed the door behind me making sure I locked it, checking a few times. I don’t know what Iexpected to happen but I wasn’t up for any unpleasant surprises. I got in the car and started it up.I reversed out of my drive and headed for the main road. The sky looked brighter now, andunusually the sun was shining down as if it was noon not half seven in the morning. I drovepassed the block of flats and stopped at the lights. The pharmacy and the bigger shops like the CDshop were all closed. It was only the sweet shops that were open. The closed shops gave thatweird spooky look with their metal shutters and bars over the windows and doors. It kind of
  10. 10. looked deserted. The lights turned green and I continued down the road. Past the Sainsbury’s, thecarpet shop and the vetinary I worked at.I sped up when I went past there. I didn’t want Fiona spotting the car and then ringing me andinquiring, so I decided to play safe.Mum and Dad lived in the greener side of Sydenham. I’d grown up there most of my childhood.Funny that because all my friends I had in high school, was forever moving house and leaving theschool whereas I don’t remember moving except the one time.I was only two blocks away from the house now. I decided to park at the end of the street. If mumdid suddenly come home, then I’d hear her and leave through the garden gate at the back. But ifmy car was in her drive then she’d know I was there before I even left. And I didn’t want toarouse ay suspicion with the neighbors. Not that they would be particularly interested, but I’dlearnt not to take any chances if not anything else. I shut the car down, took the key out andopened the door. It was surprisingly cool outside, even though the sun looked like it was shiningit wasn’t. I sucked the air through my teeth and wrapped my arms tightly around my chest. Therewas a strong wind today making all the trees look like they were dancing and making it hard towalk.I trudged on anyway, wishing I’d worn my closed shoes instead of my open toed sandals. Thewind blew about a dust wind storm and the wind fought against me trying to push me back. Isquinted my eyes a little and tried to pace my steps. I looked straight ahead, trying to make sure Ididn’t pass mums house.The street was very empty today. Not many cars and not many people out like I usually saw. Wellthere was one person. I couldn’t see them very well from where I was. The person was comingout of a door. I continued walking towards the house. I could swear the house the person wascoming out of was mum and dads house. I was sure it was. It had to be. I kept walking eager tosee who this was, but my legs wouldn’t carry me any faster than I was going. Maybe I wasn’tsupposed to go any faster. I still went at a brisk pace towards the house.I kept my eye on the person that I could now make out as a lady, coming down the road towardsme. She was wearing a long red coat, leather boots and dark trousers. I could just make out her hairand her handbag. She was walking my way but wasn’t looking at me. She wasn’t really looking atanything. She was staring as if through space, but she looked very much like Abbey. In fact shewas Abbey. I stood stock still staring at her for a moment. She was only centimeters away fromme yet she didn’t look like she could se me.‘Abbey?’ I said aloud as she was about to pass me.She turned to me, looking startled ‘Oh, Verity….’ Her eyes looked scared.‘I thought you said you were on holiday?’ I tried to work it out aloud.‘I am, I mean I was’ she tumbled over her words ‘I just got back’.I looked at her ‘So how was you’re holiday then?’‘Great. Lovely.’ Abbey searched for words.I let curiosity get the better of me ‘But why were you coming out of my mother’s house?’Abbeys face went blank ‘I-I just went to say hello, that’s all’.‘You don’t even know my mum, so why would you be going to say hello?’‘I do. I’ve seen her around’.Now that had me on the edge ‘Seen her around where?’Abbey sighed and laughed ‘At work. Ages ago remember? She used to work for parliament andso did I?’ I shook my head ‘Of course, I don’t know what I’m on about, sorry’.I stood for a minute thinking, until I remembered something.‘So mum’s at home then?’Abbey nodded ‘Yeah. It’s only half seven she has nowhere to go at this time.’I nodded.
  11. 11. ‘So you didn’t say much about how your holiday was’ I persisted.Abbey shrugged ‘It was OK.I guess, but nothing out of the ordinary’.‘So where did you go? You didn’t tell me or Hayleigh’.‘Just round Europe. Nothing special’.I frowned. She was being deliberately vague. Extremely vague. So much so I had to work tounderstand what she wasn’t telling me and why.But right now I had other doubts. Why had mum told me she’d be out when she was at home?And why had Abbey been to see her first thing in the morning? My head spun with unansweredquestions.‘So you only went for a few days then?’ I asked again.Abbey nodded ‘Didn’t really need much longer than that’.I decided I wasn’t getting anywhere with this. I nodded.‘All right then, well I’ll see you Abbey’ I said walking past her. I didn’t bother wait for her reply, I had more pressing things to do and think about at this presenttime.I turned into mum and dads front path and rang the doorbell. I knew she was in but I decided itbetter I ring the bell so that mum didn’t get the impression I came here to snoop around myself. Iwaited a while, and then I heard footsteps clicking up to the front door.She didn’t look through the spy hole like she usually did, she just opened the door.‘Oh h-hi Verity, what brings you up here?’ she stood in the doorway in her dressing gown andslippers.‘Can I come in mum?’ I asked with a straight face.She stepped aside without a word. I walked into the foyer and waited for her to shut the door.She then turned to me.‘I thought you said you wasn’t going to be here’ I didn’t beat about the bush.Mum sucked in air through her teeth ‘I know. I was going to be out but I cancelled last minute’.I nodded.Mum looked at me ‘So how come you’re up here if I told you I wasn’t going to be in?’I shrugged ‘I was around and then I saw Abbey’.Mum looked suddenly alert ‘What did Abbey say?’‘She said you were in, so I thought I’d come and see you’.Mum pulled up a smile ‘I’m all ears’.I sat down on the breakfast stool and went for it ‘Mum, do you know a person called GailWarren?’Mums face went, almost the color of the dark cream marble on the floor. Fear was widespreadacross her face. Then her face went masked, no emotion, no feeling.‘No love, never heard of her’ she paused ‘Why?’‘Just wondered’.‘Has anyone said anything to you about her?’ she couldn’t mask her urgency.I frowned ‘I thought you said you’d never heard of her’.‘I-I don’t.’I nodded. I was going to ask her about what Jill had said about her going away on Wednesday butthen I thought better of it. I didn’t want to arouse her suspicion on the fact that I knew a littlesomething. If mum really was hiding something, and I let on that I knew then she’d make more ofan effort to cover her tracks.‘What’re you thinking?’ mums’ voice was quiet.‘Just all the things I’ve got to do, that’s all’.‘You not going into work today then?’I’d been dreading that question, because I didn’t know what I was going to say.I shrugged ‘Maybe’.Mum said nothing, but her face said it all.
  12. 12. ‘I better go now anyway, just in case I do go to work’ I said.I got up and made for the door.‘Verity, are you sure everything’s alright?’ mum asked.I nodded ‘Why?’‘I just thought it was weird for you to come and ask about Gail Warren’.I bit on my lip. Maybe I’d been a bit too direct. Why did I always give things away? Then Iremembered something.‘I thought you said you didn’t know Gail Warren’.Mum missed the beat ‘I never said I did know her’.‘But you’re talking like you do’ I pursed my lips before I said anything else.Mum shook her head and smiled ‘Why would I say I don’t know someone and I do?’‘You tell me’.‘Anyway, I’ll ring you later’.I waved and left.I walked to the car at the end of the road. I got in and started up.The phone suddenly started ringing. I delved in my bag for the house phone.I answered it.‘Hi Hayleigh’.‘You all right?’‘Fine’ I lied.‘Are you at home?’ Hayleigh’s tone turned serious.‘What’s wrong?’ I didn’t want to lie again.‘I’m coming back to your house in a few minutes’.I glanced at the clock on the dashboard ‘its not even midday yet. Aren’t you at work?’Hayleigh’s voice was brisk and sharps ‘Verity, I need to talk to you. Okay’.‘Ok-ay. See you in five’ I hung up.What could she want to talk to me about? It could be…. No, that was just wishful thinking. It wasimpossible that she’d found out what was going on already. And besides she’d only gone to work.What clues to the problem could she possibly find there?I needed to get home before Hayleigh did or I’d have to find an excuse for why I was out. HavingHayleigh as a friend was like having a second mother as she was such a worry guts. I started upthe engine again and went home the back way. It wasn’t really a back way; it was just followingthe side roads instead of taking the main road route. Hayleigh was going to come back by bus,which was going to come down the main road and I didn’t want to be spotted. It was longer by afew minutes but I didn’t want to risk it. I pulled up and parked. I walked up the walkway to myfront door glancing up the road now and then to see if there was anyone watching me. Althoughthe road was quiet I was still scared. I fiddled with my keys in the top lock, wishing I hadn’tbothered to lock them all up as it was taking me so long. It eventually opened, and I steppedinside shutting the door behind me. I still locked the bolt even though it was early morning. I tookmy shoes off sliding my slippers on instead. I put my jacket on the banister and sat down on thelast step of the stairs. My head was hurting something chronic now, and my feet felt sore eventhough I’d been sitting in the car for most of today. I sighed rubbing the heels of my feet.The doorbell rang making me jump of the step. I opened the door letting Hayleigh in.She didn’t say anything as she stepped in. Her face was set like a mask. I tried to read it but Icouldn’t. Not properly anyway.‘What? What’s going on?’ I spoke slowly.Hayleigh’s expression didn’t change. She handed me a one page printout. It came from a sitecalled Politics and co from as far as I could see. I looked back at Hayleigh trying to read her faceagain.‘What is it?’ I asked.
  13. 13. ‘Read it’ her voice was stable and unreadable.I looked back at the paper. It didn’t look all that important really. Just a little bit of text and then alist in bold. I read it anyway.Current Date: April 13th 2007 Subject: List of all fired/sacked ex-employees 2004-2007Jacob Nard (2007 12thJan) Due to difficulties within workHilary Kane (2006 3rd Nov) Due to difficulties within workYvonne Woods (2006 28th Feb) Due to difficulties within workWill Edwards (2005 13th Aug) Due to difficulties within workNeil Omen (2004 1st Dec) Due to difficulties within workDawn Hilton (2004 4th May) REASON NOT APPLICABLEQueries tel: 0800 3467894I stared at the paper until it blurred. The feeling of De Javu was so overwhelming my head spun. Iwas back in the hallway reading the letter from D .Miler this morning –only this was worse. Itcouldn’t be true. It just couldn’t. I looked up at Hayleigh. She was looking at me.I looked back at the paper. It couldn’t be right. None of the paper was right. Everything waswrong. What I’d believed for the last three years was true-it had to be.I wanted it to be. I felt one thing.Disbelief.11_____________________________________________________Denial
  14. 14. I still couldn’t get my head round it. How long had I been staring at this page? Five minutes? Fivehours? A day?I looked up at Hayleigh who was standing behind the chair I was sitting on.‘Where’d you get this?’‘Internet. I googled your mums name’ she looked back at me.Then it came back to me ‘So that’s why you asked for my mums name last night?’Hayleigh nodded ‘I was sure I could find something about her. If I knew her name’.‘But mum….mum always said she quit’ I re read the printout.‘She’s said a lot of things. It doesn’t mean they’re true.’I looked up at her. I would’ve been more surprised if she’d slapped me in the face.‘I didn’t mean it like that Verity. Just- just forget about what I said okay’ Hayleigh lookedtowards the window on the far side of the wall.I said nothing. I knew it was true. Mum had said a lot of things. I’d lived for the last three yearsbelieving my sister was dead. That mum quit her job days after Lynette’s disappearance. And likethe biggest fool in the universe I’d believed everything.‘Mum told me she quit after Lynette died. Not weeks’ I still didn’t want to believe it.‘Exactly. Four days into May isn’t weeks if she died on the 29th’.I nodded. Everything made sense. It was all looking at me in black and white and I still hadtrouble coming to terms with it.Then I thought of something.‘Why does it say “reason not applicable”’ I was talking to myself more than Hayleigh.Hayleigh leaned over my shoulder and shrugged ‘They probably don’t want to give you thereason.’‘But doesn’t “not applicable” mean they can’t give you the information?’‘Not applicable can mean anything depending on why they write it. It could mean they can’t orthey won’t’.‘Why? Cant you find out?’ I tumbled over myself.‘Why ask me. I don’t know. Maybe you should just leave it’ she cast a look out of the window.I looked at her. Had she gone mad!? ‘What do you mean leave it?’ I had to ask.Hayleigh looked at me ‘Hasn’t it crossed your mind that you might be even a little obsessed?’I stared at her ‘I’m not obsessed. I’m just trying to find out what’s going on. What’s so obsessiveabout that?’‘The fact that you’re spending every spare moment of your time looking into this and then youdon’t even go into work anymore’ Hayleigh couldn’t hide the concern ‘why can’t you just dropit?’I felt a sharp prick of anger exploding inside of me ‘You try being me. Not knowing where yoursister is, not knowing anything much about what you’re getting yourself into-just hanging on byyour nails to reality. You try being me and then come tell me to drop it!’ I got up and went outinto the hallway.‘Where’re you going?’ Hayleigh’s voice sounded small.‘Nowhere’ I said picking up the phone.I looked down at the paper still in my hand and dialed the digits at the bottom.I could hear Hayleigh over the dialing asking me what I was doing. I ignored her. This was mylife that had suddenly become complicated. Not hers. So why would she understand?Almost immediately someone picked up.‘Hello, how can I help?’‘Hello. I-well my friend just got your number off your web page’ I stammered.‘Yes’ the ladies voice sounded patient but tired.I suddenly felt very scared about what I was doing.‘Hello?’ the voice prompted.
  15. 15. ‘Sorry. I was saying my friend got your number of the web- I was just wondering if you couldhelp me out.’ My palms felt hot on the receiver.‘I’ll do my best, what can I tell you?’ came the reply. Her voice was so even I couldn’t read it.‘Well I was wondering about someone’ I was forcing myself to speak.‘Name?’ she sounded like she did this every day.‘My name or the name of the person?’‘Name of the person please.’ I couldn’t hear any trace of impatience ness in her tone.I started walking up the stairs with the phone. I stopped on the landing, looking out of thewindow ‘The name is Dawn Hilton’ I said eventually.There was silence apart from the quiet sound of rain spattering the window.‘Hello?’ I said.‘What about Dawn Hilton do you want to know?’ Her voice sounded whispery.‘Well on the printout I’ve got it says the reason isn’t applicable for her being sacked.’‘Yes?’‘I was just wondering why she was fired? Do you know or….’ My voice faded to a whisper.‘Who is this is speaking?’ her voice sounded up beat and abrupt.I worried at my bottom lip.‘Can you tell me your name please’ the ladies voice was demanding.‘Could you tell me why she was fired please’ I rushed on.‘I said could you tell me your name please’.‘I was just asking why Dawn was fired. I don’t think you need my name for that’ I hid myannoyance.‘I’m afraid I can’t help you there, love’ her voice was still abrupt.‘So you’re telling me that Dawn used to work for your company and you can’t tell me why shewas fired?’ I was almost begging now.‘I never said I don’t know. I said I can’t help you.’‘Why’s that?’ Just one more question. I had to know as much as I could.I stared out of the window waiting for her answer. I only just noticed that I was holding mybreath.‘That information isn’t relevant to anyone. Okay then bye-‘‘Wait. Just one more thing’ I babbled quickly.The lady sighed ‘Yes?’‘Do you know anything about Gail Warren?’ so much for one more question.Her reply was almost instant ‘Who’s said anything to you about Gail Warren?’I fiddled with my earring ‘No one. I was just asking’.‘We don’t give out information like that’ her voice was intimidating but scared.‘Why not?’ just one more question.‘Who is this speaking?’ her voice had gone dangerously quiet.Silence.‘I said WHO IS THIS!’ She was shouting now.I took the phone away from my ear. I could still hear her from a few centimeters away.She was still shouting. I pressed the red button cutting her off.I turned to see Hayleigh watching me from the bottom of the stairs.‘Did you tell her who you were?’ she sounded distant.I shook my head.‘She’ll ring back and try find out’.I faked a shrug ‘I don’t have to tell her’.‘She’ll still ring back and try.’I walked down the stairs and placed the phone on the base. I reached under the little table it wassitting on and pulled out the plug.‘She can’t ring me now. Not unless I turn the phone back on’ I said chuffed with myself.
  16. 16. Hayleigh shook her head.‘What?’ I asked.‘Mind you don’t get yourself into trouble’ she was looking directly in my eye.‘Well I’m already in trouble, so it can’t get any worse’ my mind switched to Wednesday.‘What’re you thinking about?’ Hayleigh asked.‘Nothing much’ I said vaguely.‘I’ve got to go back to work, I’ll ring you later’ she surprised me with the sudden change ofsubject. She left without saying anything more. She always did that when she was trying to make a point.I didn’t think I was getting myself into trouble. I’d already been put in a big mass of trouble that Ididn’t know anything about and I didn’t think it could get any worse.I knew that Gail was something to do with this now. The lady on the phone hadn’t said so ofcourse but from her tone and eagerness to hide it, it became obvious.But the thing that I couldn’t get out of my mind was mum.Mum told me she quit when in fact she was fired.I wasn’t even all that bothered by her being fired. I just wanted to know why. Why straight afterLynette’s death, disappearance-whatever? I know Lynette had worked there but it still didn’tconnect. Not Fully.Nothing did.12___________________________________________________Thoughts
  17. 17. I put the letter back on the duvet and stared out of the window.I’d read Milers letter infinite times over the last few hours. I’d managed to get an hour orso of sleep after Hayleigh left for work earlier. Then I’d spent the rest of the day in frontof the computer screen searching. I was now lying on my bed with the letter in my hand.I’d scoured every website possible looking for anything that would prove that mumwasn’t fired , but that she quit, like she said she did.But like I’d expected there was nothing. I’d thought about ringing her and telling herwhat Hayleigh’d found but what good would that do? She would either confess whichwould be highly unlikely, or she’d deny it but then she’d want to know why I’d beenprying behind her back. Either way it was going to end up twice as complicated.I sighed loudly and buried my head further into my pillow.I kept thinking of Abbey. She had looked so…. So out of it when I saw her this morning.The fact that she’d supposedly went on “holiday” for two days was weird enough, andthen she was particularly vague when I’d asked her about it. What was it she said again?Something about going ‘just around Europe’. How much more secretive could she get?But what did she have to hide? She was fine before she left to go on “holiday”. Andwhat’s more why did she just happed to pop in ‘to say hi to my mum’ the morning shegot back from this “holiday”. She and my mum hadn’t been in contact since Lynettedisappeared which was when Mum was fired or quit. Abbey had quit her job working forthe government round about the same time mum did, so I didn’t understand why they’dkept in contact. Or had they? My head was drumming with unanswered questions,questions that would only create more if I continued to think about them.I sat up on the bad staring out of the window. I couldn’t see anything but black as it wasalmost half 10 at night now.My reflection stared back at me. A stressed, confused coward is what I saw. Whycouldn’t I be like other people and sort out problems instead of sitting there staring themin the face watching them multiply before me?I looked at the clock. 10.25pm. I still had time. Not much but some.I slipped my flat shoes that lay at the bottom of my bed and pulled a jumper over myhead.I knew what I had to do.13___________________________________________________The drive
  18. 18. I put the key in the ignition and started down the road.I stole a glance at the clock on the dashboard. 10.32 Now. I centered my focus back onthe road ahead of me. I needed to think as little as possible about what I was doing. Themore thought I gave it, the more likely it’d be that I would chicken out of it.I knew it was mad. But what else could I do. Nothing, that’s what, and I was so sick ofdoing nothing. I had to do something. I sped up as I approached the lights and gotthrough just about. I only had about a twenty minute drive ahead of me but I knew it wasgoing to be my longest. ***It was bustling with people in London. Well it was until I got round where Big Ben was. It waslike the sound switch had been flicked. I slowed down as I got closer to my destination.Eventually I pulled up onto the pavement and parked.I was there.London Bridge.14______________________________________________ London Bridge
  19. 19. All I had to do now was wait. I squirmed around in the driver’s seat unable to sit still. Mystomach had tied itself into a tight knot and it wasn’t loosening. I stared out of the front windowlooking out for Miler.Out of nowhere it just started spouting rain which went just about right with my mood. I watchedas the droplets winded their way down the windows creating patterns.I decided to get out of the car. My nerves were making me hot enough to boil to the point the carfelt stifling. Wrapping my scarf around my head, I got out of the car. The sharp contrast in weather hit me asthe wind was howling and the rain was pelting now.I breathed in and stole a glance at my watch. Five past 11. Why wasn’t he here yet? I looked upthe long bridge. It was completely bare and desolate apart from the odd tourist. I looked over thebridge and into the Thames. My mind switched to what I was doing. This was madness! I didn’teven know if I wanted to know anymore. What if I found out something that I wished I didn’t?My stomach tightened and my head swam. A yellow light caught the side of my eye. I lookedback to the bridge, and squinted into the distance trying to avoid the rain. There were twoapproaching yellow lights coming towards me at full speed. They slowed down as they got nearerme. Eventually the car came to a smooth halt about a few steps away from me. It wasA black Mercedes with no registration and tinted glass- or should I say black glass. The windowwound itself down a few centimeters enough for me to see Milers nose.‘Verity?’ was the only words he said.I nodded and pulled the handle. I sunk down into the leather bench seats and tried to relax. Thecar started off as soon as I’d sat down.‘How long have you been waiting here then?’ Miler startled me out of my thoughts.‘A few minutes’.Miler caught my eye in the over head mirror. ‘You look pale’.Tell me something I didn’t know.‘So do you want to know where we’re going?’ he read my mind like an open book.I replied through silence.‘It’s about a half hour away from here, nothing big’.I nodded. I was going to ask why he didn’t ask me to meet him there, but I bit my tongue andthought better of it. I looked out of the window. We were driving down a narrow road with tallstately houses either side. We were obviously still near Buckingham palace. We were going at areasonable speed but it felt to me like we were rocketing to outer space. My stomach was doingsomersaults and the doubts were eating away at me. I was in a car with no registration, with aman I didn’t know on my way to God knows where in the middle of the night. How far gone wasI!? I stared into the head rest in front of me and tried to calm down.‘You alright back there?’ Miler’s voice held a faint trace of humor.No.‘Yes’.‘You haven’t said much’.I said nothing.I couldn’t say much if I tried. If I opened my mouth I‘d probably be sick.I sunk back into the chair and tried to breathe steadily. Everything was going to be all right.Everything was going to fine. I reiterated these words over to myself to steady my pulsatingnerves. Everything was going to be fine. Hopefully. That was the thing that scared me. Hopefully.Hopefully…I opened my eyes and sat up. I must’ve fallen asleep. Asleep…. I stared out of the window, myheart drumming against my ribs like a hammer. Outside looked like a black sheet had been pulledacross the world. I could just about make out the grass and trees. Grass….
  20. 20. Where were we? How long had we been driving? I pulled my jacket sleeve up a little to look atmy watch. 1:30 am. We’d been driving for nearly three hours! Where the hell were we going!? Isuppressed my breathing, trying not to let Miler know I was awake. The car was rumbling overuneven turf down a dark, thin alley enclosed with trees. I had to find out where we were.Before…I slipped my hand into my top pocket and silently slid out my phone. If I could just ring the policeor something…. No signal. I couldn’t get in contact with anybody . Then again, what could I tellthe police-‘I’m in a car, I don’t know where but could you come and save me please!’ I don’tthink so! Quietly I slipped my phone back into my pocket. What now?! I peered out of thewindow again, desperately trying to work out where we were. I could still only just make out thetops of trees, but that was about it. There was nothing I could do. Unless… I looked down at thehandle. I toyed with the idea. It was mad. I was mad . And what if it didn’t work? But if it didthen I’d at least have a chance. It would be a small chance but it’d be a lot more that I had now.That knot in my stomach was back again with vengeance. I ignored it. I had to try. What did Ihave to lose in trying? It was either that or….I very slowly, got hold of the handle. That was the easiest part. Now I had to pull it. What if itwas locked or what if it made noise? The car turned into an even smaller alley where I wascertain the car couldn’t make a U turn to chase after me. All the while Miler was still driving inoblivion. I kept my head down, so he wouldn’t see me in the overhead mirror. The car was goingat about 5 miles an hour so what was I waiting for!? If I pulled at the handle I’d have to make itfast, so he couldn’t turn round and interfere. I tightened my grip. It was either now or never.Now or never.Placing my feet towards the door-I pulled.15__________________________________________________Woodford
  21. 21. I ran and I ran and I ran. My head was itching to look to look back and see if the car wasgone but I didn’t. The night air was freezing temperature and the ground was lightlycovered with ice. I kept running. Running .Running. I didn’t know where I was going, butI couldn’t stop! I sure as hell knew that! The overgrown path winded its way in and out asI followed it. I began to wonder how the car had managed to fit down the small littleroad. Eventually the path opened to a clearing. The dirt track stopped and old cobbledground followed. It looked like I‘d just stepped back in time. There were neat rows ofhouses and then a few shops on the opposite side that looked like they needed sweepingthe cobwebs off of. All it needed was a horse and carriage and ladies in Victorianclothing and it’d be like a 19th century village. I relaxed into a brisk walk along the paradeof shops. Being almost 2 in the morning, everywhere was closed.I looked down the road to see if there were any lights coming from anywhere. I spottedone beam of light near the very end of the street and hurried towards it. When I got to thedoor I pushed it and entered a small sweetshop. There was no one behind the counter, so Istood and waited by it. The window of the shop was large. Very large. The type thatMiler would be able to drive past and spot me through. I needed to stop being paranoid.I switched my attention to the counter again. It was eerily silent in the shop, andunrealistically still outside. The rows of chocolates and crisps looked like they hadn’tever been touched. Either that or the owner rearranged them after every customer left thestore.A door at last, creaked open from behind the counter. A tall old looking women came out.‘Sorry to keep you waiting’ she smiled. I summoned a smile out of some unknown place ‘That’s Okay. I just wondered if you’d be ableto tell me where I am?’‘You’re in Woodford, love.’Woodford?‘Do you know where the nearest train station is from here?’‘I do. If you keep heading straight, you’ll pass a big petrol station and then you’ll see some stairsgoing downwards. Go down there and that’ll be the station. Alright?’I logged her words in my head ‘Thank you’ I said heading through the door.The cold air chilled me as I pulled my jacket together. She’d said to keep heading straight. I keptwalking. My steps echoed loudly on the cobbled ground. I quickened my steps to a light sprint. Icould faintly make out an illuminated sign a few meters ahead. I passed two little pumps thatwere stood up by a wall. That must’ve been what she called ‘the big petrol station’. I carried on.Just like she said, there were a few steps leading downwards and an illuminated sign overheadread’ Woodford’ station. I ran down the steps and into the ticket office. There was a clerk over atthe far corner behind yellowing glass. He was watching an overhead TV when I approached. Ihad to tap on the countertop to get his attention.‘Return or single?’ he just about made it to a grunt.Oh well hello to you too!‘Single please’ I leant on the counter while the clerk printed a ticket.‘2.50’.I slipped the change under the glass and took my ticket. I then turned round to look at the tubemap. Very rarely did I ever go anywhere by train, so this was all new to me. I managed to workmy way through t he merging squiggly lines to where I lived. I didn’t have any time to waste, so I ran down the steps and onto the first train platform. Theplatform was thin and stuffy. I sat myself down on one of the chairs by the side. I was the onlyone there. The only noise I could hear was my own breathing. I looked up and down the baronplatform. The paint on the walls was chipping, the track looked like it’d never been swept and the
  22. 22. light above me was faltering. I was so tired my body felt limp with fatigue. My eyelids felt heavyand my feet numb. I wished more than ever I hadn’t gone to London Bridge in the first place.What good had I got out of it? But I definitely knew there was something deep going on now,otherwise Miler wouldn’t have tried to kidnap me or whatever else he’d planned to do with meBut what could be so BIG a deal that he’d go to such an extent for? What could be so big?There was a sudden rush of warm air as the train glided into the platform. The doors slid openand I stepped in. I didn’t bother sit down as the seats didn’t look particularly inviting. The wholecarriage was empty apart from old McDonald’s cartons lying round and newspapers occupyingempty seats. I looked through the little square shaped window into the other carriages. It lookedlike I was the only one on the whole train. My heart started slamming against my ribs again. Ileant on the bars of one of the chairs to keep myself standing. I felt so faint with tiredness andadrenaline it was sickening. I opened my eyes wide until it stung to try keeping myself awake. Istared around the carriage. I suddenly craved coffee as I looked at the empty coffee carton rollingacross the floor. I looked up at the tube map above the seats. It was only then I remembered thatI’d left the car on London Bridge. I cursed myself silently. What was I doing!? I had morepressing things to worry about than my car. I was as sure of the fact that something was going on.I just didn’t know what. And I had to find out. That wasn’t an option anymore. It wasn’t as if Icould just forget it anyway. It was like no matter what I did, I was either more confused or backto square one. There was only one logical way to find out. It would be long winded, tedious andinvolve a bit of prying on my part, but it was desperate measures or nothing now. I looked backup at the tube board. I had two more stops left and I’d now changed my destination.I was getting off at Sydenham station.16______________________________________________________EscapeThe train came to a gradual halt and I stepped out. The air was even more stuffy now andmy jumper was more a less sticking to my back. I now followed the signs to the nearest
  23. 23. exit. The concrete stairs winded its way upwards making me feel dizzy. When I finallygot to the top, I had to stop and rest for a few seconds. The night air, or should I saymorning air met me from the station exit now only a few steps away, cooling me down.Gathering my strength I left the station and made my way down the road. It was stilldark, and it’d obviously rained a bit more as the roads and pavements were shiny andwet. There weren’t any cars on the road surprisingly, so it was ghostly silent. I keptwalking, keeping my mind on what I was about to do. It was far from perfect timing butthere was nothing I could do about that.I turned right into another road. I scanned the houses as an I passed looking for onespecific number. Then I stopped. I was there. At Mums.I stopped at the gate and looked up at the frosted windows. All the blinds were down andall the lights were off as I’d expected. Dads car wasn’t there so he was obviously workingnights. This had to be one of my worst ideas ever. I was going to wake mum up at fivepast two in the morning and ask her about Gail warren-What a fantastic idea! But whatelse was I to do?I slowly walked up the bricked path. I stopped at the door. It was probably better if I ringthe doorbell than let myself in and give mum a fright. I reached forward to press the bellwhen I noticed that the door was ajar. Only very slightly, but still ajar. My hand stoppedin mid air. Had mum been burgled? The thought exploded in my mind along with alarmbells. Why would someone burgle her or dad? Okay they had loads of valuables, but howwould a burglar be able to open the door without smashing one of the windows? I lookedback up at the windows again. They were all in tact. Or maybe it was someone who hadtheir key. Someone they knew. But it couldn’t be. I was the only one that had their keyand ….Lynette used to.Tentatively I slowly pushed the door. Now it was half open. I peered in from thedoorway. It was pitch black, and none of the lights were on apart from the conservatory atthe back. What would a burglar want with our dining chairs? I stepped in and onto themat, making sure I left the door open enough to run back through. I took my phone out ofmy pocket, ready to call the police if I had to. At snail pace I softly stepped properly intothe kitchen. I looked up the staircase. The lights weren’t on up there either. The stereowas still in its place – on the shelf above the worktop, and mums purse and phone werelying visible next to the toaster- all the expensive things were still in place. I lookedaround the kitchen again. They couldn’t have been burgled then. But why would theyhave the door open at two in the morning? I looked back up the stairs. I could go wakemum and ask her… Out of nowhere I heard faint footsteps echoing on ground. It soundedlike it was coming from the back of the house. My heart pounded against my chest for themillionth time tonight. I wanted to turn back and run, but it was like my feet were rootedin the marble. The steps got a little louder and I heard the key being turned in the backdoor. Key?I heard a slight muffle of voices. So subtle I had to stop breathing to hear.‘-I know…..’ I heard a first voice whisper.‘Put these two in the car….There is space’ A second voice said. The voices were toostable for me to work out whether it was man or woman.There was the sound of zips being done up and then a bang. What was going on!?I had to let my breathe out silently before I went blue in the face from lack of oxygen.The steps quickened coming nearer. The light in the conservatory went off and then two
  24. 24. people came out into the darkness of the open room. It was too dark to make out anythingapart from their outlines. My heart was racing at a thousand miles an hour and I sowanted to turn and run, but my feet were still planted into the foundations of the house.The two figures were only a foot away now. One of them clicked on the lamp in theliving room illuminating part of the kitchen. I stepped to the side hiding myself in theshadows.I could see them clearly. They both had long coats on and were both bending oversomething. It looked like a suitcase. I willed them to stand up properly so I could seetheir faces. One of them did. This one was smaller than the other, but I still couldn’t seeher face as she was standing backing me. She looked like someone I knew, but I felt sotired I couldn’t work out who.The other stood up backing me now too, and picked up the case. Pulling it backwards, theperson stumbled backward into the kitchen. I saw them reach up for the light for thekitchen. I held my breath and got my phone ready to dial. The light flickered on and thetwo coated people turned round.The tightest belt undone from around my insides when I saw who it was. It was mum.And Abbey.Mum looked at me like she’d just seen a ghost and Abbey looked like a mirror image ofher. I inhaled sharply to get air back into my lungs ‘I thought you’d been burgled when I sawthe door half open. You really gave me a scare-‘I stopped looking at what Abbey andmum were pulling in their hands. I’d been right. Suitcases.‘W-what are you doing with those?’ I could barley speak, as I tried to work it out.I looked from mum and Abbey. I realized that neither of them had said anything from themoment they’d seen me. Mum and Abbey exchanged a look that spoke volumes.‘What are you doing here Verity at two in the morning?’ Mum said at last switching thesubject on me.I frowned exasperated ‘I asked first. What are you two doing with suitcases? Where’reyou going?’‘Verity answer my question. What’re you doing out at two in the morning?’ Mums voicewas terse with fear. The knot in my stomach had redone itself as I clocked something-Mum and Abbey?‘I was out’.‘Out where?’ Mum demanded almost immediately like she’d known what my answerwould be.I inhaled sharply. Now that I knew mum had something to do with this whole thing, therewouldn’t be any harm in telling her. Besides I hadn’t done anything bad.‘If you must know mother, I was out trying to find out what was going on in my familly’Ipaused ‘Lynette in particular’. Mum tensed visibly. At that moment I knew that she kneweverything.‘I knew it! I knew it! You know everything and you kept it to yourself! How dare you!She’s my sister too as well as your daughter!’ I quietly fumed. I felt spark of anger. I wastrying to compress it but I couldn’t. I was so angry it scared me.
  25. 25. Abbey gasped ‘She knows Dawn! She knows!’ She looked to my mum like a frightenedrabbit. All I’d had to say is “I knew it” and they knew what I was talking about. Thatangered me even more. I pursed my lips together to keep myself from saying something I’d regret. I looked fromMum to Abbey. If looks were fire they would’ve both been reduced to ashes.I looked at Mum again. I t was like I could see the wheels in her head turning. Workingout what to say. Abbey was just standing there waiting for my mum to say something.‘You don’t know half of it, so I don’t know why you’re looking like that’ Mum tried todefend herself.‘That’s the problem. I don’t know anything’ I spoke in hushed tones to compress theanger that was burning inside me ‘And to think I stood up for you when I first got thenews that my sister was alive. I thought ‘oh no my mum can’t possibly have anything todo with it’. Miler was right-‘I was cut short by Abbeys gasp again.‘You know Miler?’ Abbey said his name as if it was a swear word.‘What has he told you?’ Mum demanded. I had all her attention now.‘Nothing. I was almost killed though, do you know why?’ I paused ‘because I had to relyon him to tell me what was going on in my own family I agreed to meet up with him. Allbecause YOU wouldn’t tell me what was going on!’‘I think you need to come with us’ mum spoke as if I hadn’t.‘What do you mean’ go with you’!? I don’t even know where you’re going!’‘We’ll tell you in the car.’ Mum turned to Abbey. ‘Abbey put the case in the car pleaseand get the engine started’ She handed Abbey a set of car keys and waited for her to getto outside before she turned back to me.S he opened her mouth to speak, but I got in first.‘Whatever you’re playing at mother, I don’t think it’s funny. I want to know what’s goingon’ I fumed.‘I don’t think it’s funny either- and I’m not playing at anything Verity. I think you needto come with us’. Mum repeated her last sentence again.I looked at her. There it was again. That same indistinct expression I‘d seen a thousandtimes before on mums face. She always looked like that when she was talking aboutLynette. I used to think it was because it hurt her to remember her. I knew better now.‘I’m not going anywhere. Not until I know what is going on’ I said at last.‘Yes you are. You’re coming with us’ Mum said. Her voice was so calm and collected itwas almost toneless.‘No I’m not. And you can’t make me’ I replied after a pause.‘Yes you are’ Mum shot back instantly.‘Why should I? Because you say so’.‘As well as that, I’m your mother’.‘Only when it suits you though’. It came out without thinking, but I wasn’t sorry. Howdare she withhold information from me all these years, making me mourn for nothing?We regarded each other. I stared right back at her, my gaze unflinching. Mum lookedaway.I watched her silently as she studied the floor.‘What do you want to know?’ she mumbled after at least a minute.
  26. 26. ‘For a start-where is Lynette?’ I made no attempt to hide the frost in my voice.Mum sighed inwardly ‘It’s not as simple as that Verity’.‘Yes it is. I asked you where she is not how many atoms make up her fingernails’.‘It isn’t that simple Verity’ Mum repeated.‘No? How is it then?’ I snapped back.‘Your sister used to work for the government’ she paused. I said nothing while I waitedfor her to continue. ‘The head of finance was a rich man and there were many people whowanted to get his place.’ I couldn’t help wonder where this was going but I stayed silent.‘The first account finance head had a son and-‘‘What do you mean the first finance head?’‘The first finance head was killed’ Mum replied without hesitation ‘His sons name wasDan Miler’ Mum paused significantly. So Miler was the finance head son. I digested thispiece of news in silence. Mum continued ‘Milers dad was getting old and he’d arrangedfor his son to take over his place when he died. But Miler couldn’t wait. So he shot hisdad and took his place as finance head’.Miler was a murderer? And I had spent an hour and a half with him in a car?‘What has Miler shooting his dad got to do with Lynette and her whereabouts’-‘‘I’m getting to it Verity’ She paused ‘Miler shot his dad just outside the house ofParliament where we was all working. We witnessed it’.I remained silent waiting for mum to fill in the blanks.‘Me, Lynette, Abbey and Gail were working in one of the offices when we heard thegunshot. When we rushed outside, Milers dad was lying beneath him on the ground.Obviously now that Miler knew that we’d witnessed his murder, Miler wanted to get ridof us.’ Mum paused as she looked down at the floor.‘He turned the gun on us’ mums voice was so quiet I had to strain to hear it ‘We all werefortunate enough to get back inside the building, and run. Except Gail’ she waswhispering now ‘she was shot. After that happened Abbey quit her job working for thegovernment as I did and Lynette, she-‘mum looked me in they eye ‘Remember that nightshe disappeared?’‘Not much chance I’d forget’.Mums stare turned to the ground as I said that.‘I-I told her to run away. I didn’t want her to get hurt and I didn’t want Miler to-‘‘You told her to leave!?’ My voice was so quiet I could barley hear myself. I couldn’tbelieve what I was hearing! How could mum do something like that!? Realization hit melike sharp hailstone- when mum and dad were questioned that night, that was the reasonthey’d said they didn’t want to say anything. Because they knew everything.‘Why did you call the police then, if you knew where she was?’ I asked restraining myanger.‘We had to for your sake. When she didn’t come home you would assume we knewwhere she was if we didn’t call the police’ mum tried to defend herself.I looked at her. At that moment I realized I didn’t know her at all. We were just twopeople with the same surname. That was the only thing that connected us as far as I wasconcerned. And I couldn’t even feel sad about it.Mum looked back at me for a moment. Her gaze fell after a few seconds. Mine didn’t.‘Dawn! Cars ready!’ Abbeys voice sounded over the quiet engine interrupting my train ofthought.
  27. 27. Mum looked back at me. If she expected me to be sorry for asking she was about to besurprised. I stared right back.‘We need to go now, Verity’ she said slowly.The frown on my face deepened ‘I’m not going anywhere until you tell me where’.‘Look Verity, this is for your own good. You need to come with us-‘‘My own good? Like how you told Lynette to leave? I’m sure you told her that that wasfor her own good too didn’t you?’ Mum was silenced momentarily.‘Verity please. I mean this. Now that Miler is onto you its only a matter of weeks or daysfor all I know until her tries something more sinister. And it might work’ Mum soundedsincere. I reminded myself that I knew better now. A whole lot better.‘I can look after myself Mum’. I said after a few seconds.‘Not when Milers involved Verity. He’s got no limits and will stop at nothing to get whathe wants-‘‘Oh mum please doesn’t come with that self righteous rubbish! For all I know you couldbe working for him!’Mum looked so hurt by that I almost felt sorry I said it. But I didn’t make it so close.‘I’m on your side and now that we’re all in the same boat we can try and sort this outonce and for all’.‘Too bad you didn’t think of that before you got yourself and the rest of the family intothis mess’ I shot back.‘Dawn!’. Abbey again. I ignored her. I regarded mum.‘Dawn!’Mum stepped forward lugging the cases along with her. I watched her from the kitchen asshe hauled them into the boot of her car. This must’ve been what Jill’s been on aboutwhen she said Mum had told her she wouldn’t be here on Wednesday. It was now wellinto Wednesday morning. I looked down at my watch remembering my fatigue. Mumstartled me out of my thoughts by grabbing me by the arm and pulling me out of thehouse towards the car.‘Get off me! What the hell do you think you’re doing!?’ I struggled as we stood next tothe open car door.‘Saving your life’ mum replied not looking at me trying to shove me in the car.‘And you expect me to believe that!’‘Verity! Keep your voice down! We’re-‘Abbey leant out of the window to tell me.‘I‘ll speak as loud as I like thanks. I’m not helping you do whatever dirty work you’vegot in mind’ I raised my voice a little louder.‘Listen here Verity!’ mum pulled me round to face her ‘Do you want to be killed!?’Mums voice was so quiet but terse. I looked back at her. She released her grip on me.I got into the car.17____________________________________________________No trustThe car stopped outside my house.Mum turned round from the passenger seat ‘Pack a suitcase with everything possible. Bequick’.
  28. 28. I got out of the car shutting the door behind me. It felt like years since I’d been at home.I opened the door. The warm flowed over me invitingly making me wish I could stay athome. I didn’t even know where we were going. Mum had just told me to pack a case.I trudged slowly upstairs. At least I knew what was gong on now but that had justpresented new problems. I couldn’t rust mum or Abbey. My own mother and one of myclosest friends. Ex- close friend. And to think I’d confided in her when Lynettedisappeared. That stupid speech she gave me ‘Well I’ll always be here for you. Youknow you can trust me…’ literally oozing fake sincerity. Just the thought of it made meshiver knowing I’d been close friends with someone who couldn’t give a pennies worthabout me.I pulled my large pull along case out from being my strand up mirror and put it on mybed. I stared at it blankly. What did she say to pack now? Everything possible. Well thathelped. I shrugged and decided to do just that. I crammed all my make up and jewelryinto one pouch and put it at the side of the case. Slipped as many shoes as I could in thefront compartment and all my flannels and wash things on top of them. I then raided mychest of drawers, packing almost all of my clothes. (All accept a ball gown from awedding, a few work suits and few party tops). I knelt on the case as I struggled to zip itup. I had four pairs of jeans, six shoes, three flannels, eleven tops, three pairs of trousers afew belts and underwear. Hauling my case of the bed I looked at my bedroom. Looks likeI wasn’t going to see it again for at least a few weeks. And that was a rough estimate- andI didn’t even know where they were taking me. I ignored the bitter tasting doubt in mymouth as I took the case downstairs. I couldn’t help thinking I was rapidly getting myselfinto more trouble. With the help of mum and Abbey.I grabbed my purse stuffing it into my largest pocket. After one last look around thehouse I locked up. The car was still sitting there, the engine still on. I opened the car doorpushing my case in first.‘Do you want some help with that?’ Abbey asked turning around to help.‘No. I’m fine thanks’ I snapped pulling the case out of her reach. I didn’t trust either ofthem anywhere near my things. The car started off as soon as I’d put my seatbelt on. Ilaid back a little in the seat. My eyelids started drooping and my head started dropping. Isat up right forcing myself to open my eyes wide. The last time I’d fallen asleep in someones car I’d almost been killed. I wasn’t about to take that chance again, no matter howtired I was. Clutching my case to my side I stared out of the window. This was thebeginning of the end. I could feel it. And here I was in the same car as the two people thatmight help me get there. I kicked myself mentally for being so stupid. I couldn’t doanything now. I’d come this far and I was going to stick at it.We’d been driving for almost an hour now. I’d contented myself with watching themotorway fly past us. No one had said anything so we’d been traveling in silence. Iwouldn’t say uncomfortable silence, not on my part anyway. I hadn’t done anythingwrong. I was quite happy not to talk to them.We came to a gradual halt in the middle of a small build up of traffic. I could just out ofthe side of my eye see Abbey look back at me. I kept my eyes on the window. She sighedand turned back to the wheel. If she wanted to talk then she’d just have to want. I turnedmy attention back to outside. The sun was only just rising so you couldn’t see it very
  29. 29. well. The sky was a dismal looking blue, filled with clouds. Abbey was driving for somereason unknown to me. I mean this was mums car wasn’t it? Or was it? I couldn’t be sureof anything anymore which was gnawing away at me like an angry crocodile. I glanced atmy watch. It was quarter to six in the morning. I sighed inwardly. I wound the windowdown a little to get some much needed breeze. The cold air seeped in through the gapgiving me a bad headache. I wound the window up again. We were still stationery so Idecided to make the best use of my time and try work out where we were going. I wasn’tgoing to ask where; I just couldn’t give them the satisfaction. I felt a little guilty forhaving so much pride, but it subsided as quickly as it’d come. The signs overhead wereall useless. One said ‘Speed Limit 60’, another said ‘Hard Shoulder ahead’ and anothersaid ‘Enfield 5m’. I racked my brain ignoring my protesting headache. Where the hellwere they taking me!? I’d been in a car not knowing where I was going twice in about 3hours and the first time I’d only very narrowly escaped death. What was I going to haveto escape this time? I pressed my aching head into the head rest. An obscure memorypassed through my mind. Mums frosted windows, that day I’d seen that leaflet on hertable on security pads. After Lynette had disappeared I ‘d noticed that she’d becomealmost obsessed in security that she got her windows frosted and always left her blindsdown unless it was really hot. I cursed myself silently for not picking up on the reason. Ilooked towards mum. She stiffened in her seat so she must’ve known I was looking ather. I didn’t flinch. My thoughts turned to Abbey. One of closest friends next toHayleigh. Used to be. Not anymore. There were a lot of things that had changed in thelast few hours. A lot.18_________________________________________British Airways H563My eyes opened. I cursed myself silently for falling asleep. I immediately looked down tomy luggage lying next to me. The padlock was still on the zip securely. I looked out ofthe window. We were in some car park. The walls were a bright white colour and there
  30. 30. were a few cars dotted around. There isn’t much use mentioning the lighting as therewasn’t any. I scanned the car park for any sign as to where we were. There were none.We reversed into a vacant space and Abbey turned the ignition off. We sat in silence for afew deafening moments if that makes any sense. Abbey and Mum exchanged a glance. Aglance that said ‘Here we go’.I felt so sick with fear I felt like fainting. Mum got out of the car followed by Abbey andso I followed them. I was surprised when they took suitcases out of the boot as well. Iassumed it was theirs but what did I know!I followed them as they walked over to a lift at the far corner of the car park. Mumpressed for level one and we waited. I was itching to ask where we were but I stillcouldn’t bring myself to say it. The lift came and we clambered inside. The doors closedand we stood in silence. Mums looked at the floor, the ceiling the walls the lights at thetop of the lift-you name it! Anywhere but at me. Abbey didn’t. She was looking straightat me with a kind of sad expression. If she thought I was going to crumble and forgiveher because she looked upset then she’d be waiting an awful long time. I looked back ather my gaze unflinching. She was the first to look away her head bent towards the floor.The lift at last came to a halt and the doors opened. We stepped out onto the marble effectflooring of….. An airport.I blinked. Whatever I’d expected it definitely hadn’t been this. I stared at mum whowalked alongside me, Abbey at her other side.‘I think the check in desk is this way’ Mum said heading to the left. I stared at her with somuch blazing fury my face burned hot. How could she be so calm and collected? Iwasn’t. My insides were twisting and my headache was getting worse. Or maybe it wasall a façade. I followed her nonetheless, Abbey and her a little in front.I looked around the airport. It was rather empty as it was only quarter past six in themorning. Apart from a few people milling around.I turned my attention back to Mum and Abbey. They were standing at the check in desknow. I trooped up behind them. Mum and Abbey showed their boarding passes andloaded their cases on the conveyer belt.A smallish lady in a dark blue suit stood behind the desk, weighing the cases.‘That’s fine’ she said ‘you’ve got seats in the 3rd isle about four seats in. Okay?’She didn’t wait for a reply, but she called me forward.‘Hello nice to have you traveling with British airways, can you pop your case on the beltplease’. She’d obviously said it so many times, which was why it sounded so practiced.I did as asked and waited while she weighed it.‘That’s fine. Can I have your boarding pass please’ she said after a few seconds.I inhaled sharply. I’d been waiting for that. I didn’t have a boarding pass, so now whatwas I supposed to do?! I turned to look at Mum and Abbey who were behind me now.‘You’re boarding pass please?’ the lady repeated her hand outstretched.‘I don’t have one’ I said evenly.The lady stared at me ‘You should’ve got one. When did you book?’I was about to say that I’d never booked when Abbey stepped in.‘We were hoping to pay here if that’s alright with you’.I stared at her. The lady stared at her. Mum didn’t. Looks like they’d already plannedthis. Surprise surprise!‘Who are you in relation to this lady?’ the hostess’ demeanor changed in an instant.
  31. 31. ‘I’m her best friend and this is her mother if you’re so interested’. I looked at Abbey.Best friend? Past tense.The lady surveyed my expression ‘Are you sure the lady doesn’t want to pay herself?’‘No, we’d all agreed this before we got here didn’t we Verity?’ Abbey looked to me.Mum looked at me and so did the hostess.‘Did you agree to it?’ the hostess prompted.Mum looked at me with a pleading expression. I looked back at the hostess.One word ‘Yes’. The hostess didn’t look in any way convinced but she took Abbeys card details and saidshe’d deduct the money from her account.Our flight was leaving in the next half an hour so we were told to board now. We wentthrough the hundred and one security procedures until we eventually started headingdown a long narrow tube to our plane.The only thought in my head was why on earth Abbey and Mum had agreed to fork outfor my flight? What could be so important?We walked down in silence. When we got onto the plane, it was only half full. We wentto our allocated seats and sat down.‘Do you want me to put your handbag overhead?’ Mum startled me out of my thoughts.‘No’.Mum sighed ‘I’m going to find the toilets before we set off if anyone wants me’.I said nothing and Abbey barley noticed as she was to busy staring at me. Let her stare Ithought to myself. I had nothing to feel guilty about. The lights lowered to a dim blueglow and most of the people in the plane were reclining their seats ready to go to sleepalready. The fatigue I’d had a few minutes ago had gone completely and now I felt alert.I dug into my jacket pocket for my phone.I flipped it open and decided to text Hayleigh to tell her I’d ring later in the afternoonwith some news. I should’ve rang her there and then and told her but I really didn’t feellike talking right now.‘What’re you doing?’ Abbey startled me from my train of thought this time.I ignored her. She kept staring.‘What’re you doing?’ Abbey repeated going for a more friendly tone.I ignored her still.She sighed. ‘Verity, it doesn’t have to be like this. It’s not the way you think it is. Ifyou’d just let me expl-‘‘Don’t chat crap Abbey. It’s exactly the way I think it is and you and I both know it’ Isnapped back.‘No it isn’t. Why wont you give me a chanc-‘‘What like I gave you three years ago? I was stupid enough to confide in you. I’ll nevermake that mistake again’.‘Verity, what I-we done was to protect you’.‘From what!? I almost got killed a few hours ago and it’s all because of you and my ownmother!’ my voice was quiet but dripping ice ‘Don’t you come with the “we did it toprotect you” rubbish cos I know better than that now!’Abbey stared at me for a few silent seconds.‘Verity, I-I’m your friend you can trust me’ I could hear her choking up like she wasabout to cry. Boy was she a good actor! ‘I’m only here to help and so is your mum. Just
  32. 32. trust me. You’ll understand soon. Please. I don’t want to lose you as a friend’. She pausedfor a moment ‘Do you believe me?’ she said after a few seconds.I looked at her. Really looked at her. Her mouth was curved into a smile but her eyeslooked troubled. Her mascara perfectly framed her sad looking eyes and her eye liner justabout covered the worry lines under her eyes. It was the first time I’d really noticed. Ifthat’s what a life of crime did to you then I’d make sure I stay well clear of it. I snappedback to the present.‘No’.‘But Verity I-‘‘You asked me a question and I answered it. What more do you want?’ I didn’t botherhide the irritation in my voice.‘For you to believe me’.Abbey looked sincere. Her lips a straight line across her face.‘Well you can keep wanting then’.I turned back to my phone just as Mum came walking back down the isle of the plane.19_________________________________________SomewhereWe’d been flying for about 20 minutes and I didn’t think I could take anymore. Youdon’t know how nerve racking it is to be in a plane thousands of feet off the ground onyour way to….. That’s the thing-I don’t have any clue where. Somewhere.
  33. 33. Abbey had her seat reclined and was sleeping, but Mum was still awake. She waspretending to read the safety card about What To Do In An Emergency but the fact that itwas upside down kind of gave it away. Oh, and the fact that she wasn’t even looking atthe card also gave it away.I ignored her still and carried on staring out of the window.Mum continued staring at me. What was she trying to do? Bore a hole in the side of myhead?‘Verity.’ mums voice split the silence of the plane like a needle making contact with aballoon.I ignored her still.Mum sighed for the umpteenth time today. It was really beginning to get on my nerves.‘The problem with you Verity is that you don’t ever give anybody a chance’ mumsurprised me by saying.She was still going under the pretense of reading the safety card and wasn’t looking atme.‘Who do I need to give chances too and why?’ I said beginning to recline my seat.‘Me and Abbey, that’s who’ mum shot back.My eyebrows shot up at that ‘You give me one reason why I should do that’.‘To explain to you what’s going on –‘‘Alright mum. You explain to me where we’re going, that’ll be a good start’.Mum looked up at me for the first time during our conversation and shook her head‘See it’s not that simple Verity’ mum began.‘So you keep saying, but I really don’t see the complication.’‘You wouldn’t, you don’t know what’s going on’ Mum was beginning to get irritated butthen so was I. I was past irritated.‘That’s exactly my point. You could start by enlightening me on where we’re goingmaybe’.Mum opened her mouth like a fish only to shut it again.‘I can’t do that Verity’ she said eventually. I nodded. I hadn’t expected anything else. I closed my eyes and relaxed back in myreclined chair. I could still feel mum staring at me. I saw her open her mouth again fromthe side of my eye and then shut it again.I tried to relax should I say. I felt so tense, that the idea of sleep was a very distant one. I didn’t know where I was going for the second time in one night and I hadn’t slept inover 24 hours. I looked at my watch. 6:50 AM. I sighed quietly. Well, I couldn’t doanything about it now so what was the point in worrying now? Whatever happened I’ddeal with it when it came. I smiled to myself. It was a very random thing to think aboutbut I just remembered three years ago, the night Lynette went away- she asked me ifcircumstances changing would have an effect on my career plans or education. At thetime I’d thought she was crazy. Why on earth would anything stand in the way of mycareer and education? I only now understood. Three years later.And now more than ever Iwished more than ever I was the ignorant , unknowing girl I was those three years ago.
  34. 34. 20_________________________________________North Wales‘Good Morning passengers, just a little announcement to inform you that we’ve justlanded in Wales. We’d like to all wish you a nice stay from us here at Easy Jet and Thankyou all for traveling with us.’ A voice from overhead said.
  35. 35. I stretched silently and looked around. I’d fallen asleep and forgotten I was in anairplane. What did the overhead message just say? - We were in Wales? My facecontorted with confusion. Why were we in Wales? What did Wales have to do withLynette or anything to do with my finding out what was going on?Abbey was just waking up as well as she was stretching herself upright. I looked down atmy watch. 7:30 AM. This meant we’d only been traveling for about forty minutes.We all sat for about five minutes waiting for the plane to go through its various landingprocedures and then what seemed like years later, we were able to file off through a tubeleading to Wales North airport.Mum and Abbey walked beside me in a barbed wire silence. They were both looking atme. I looked right back at them and looked straight ahead again. If they were trying toguilt trip me now then I must have missed a beat or something-I hadn’t done anythingwrong so why should I feel bad. We came to the luggage conveyer belt and retrieved ourcases. Mum and Abbey who’d got their cases by now as well started t head for the‘Collection point’. Or at least that’s what it was called. I just followed them. I didn’tknow where I was going but they obviously did. We headed through a large glass doorand put into the cold outside. I hugged my coat to myself. I was freezing. Part of it wasthe fear gnawing away at me. What the hell was I doing here? I didn’t have a clue where Iwas being taken and why. And beneath all the fear I couldn’t stop the overwhelmingsadness that was washing over me. Why was I sad? Because I felt so lost. My mum andclose friend had hidden a massive secret from me from years. I couldn’t trust either ofthem, and there wasn’t really anything I could do about it.We all stood in the cold for about fifteen minutes. More than once I felt like asking whatwe were waiting for but I couldn’t bring myself to give them both the satisfaction.After about ten minutes, a small black saloon pulled up. It had a taxi sticker at the side ofthe rear window and a very little man inside. He looked so small; it was almostunbelievable that he was legally allowed to drive. Mum and Abbey hauled their suitcasesinto the back boot and so I did too. We then got in the taxi. Well I thought it was a taxi.But it couldn’t have been as the driver just started driving and neither mum nor Abbeyhad given him any directions as to where they wanted him to go. I sat in my seatwatching the motorway whip past us. The 3rd time in 24 hours in a car , not knowingwhere I was going. I found myself pressing my head back into the head rest to stopmyself from being sick once again.I looked over at Mum and Abbey.Mum, sitting next tome was asleep and Abbey was also asleep. I turned away. Lucky them. They obviouslyhad nothing to worry about.The driver wasn’t saying anything either, so we traveled in a stony silence.After a few minutes the car turned off the motorway, round a round about and down asmall country lane. The lane seemed to go on forever, as I was sure we had been drivingdown it for at least twenty minutes before we reached a small clearing. There were somevery small black gates in front of what looked like a country manor. They opened as wegot within close range. The car rumbled in over the gravel on the floor. There were a fewcars in the small car park but not many. The car came to a gradual halt in one of the manyvacant spaces at long last. I opened the car door and stepped out letting the sharp windslap me. The wind howled like what I imagined a hurricane would sound like. I hugged
  36. 36. my thin jacket closer to me and hauled my suitcase out of the back boot. Abbey and Mumdone the same and they then headed for the building that I now assumed was a hotel.Abbey knocked on the door. It was one of those doors you expect to see in a history bookon one of those Victorian houses. Abbeys knocked a second time. Mum stood beside herwith me behind her. They still hadn’t told me where I was, but I still couldn’t bringmyself to ask them and give them the satisfaction. I looked up at the manor/ hotel. Thewindows were gleaming like they’d just been fitted but the brickwork gave the buildingsage away as it was old, haggard and had that water stained look.Suddenly the door opened by a smiley looking woman.‘Hello there’ she cooed ‘Do come in’. She stepped to the side and we all tumbled in thelarge door. The warm heating of the building engulfed me making me feel sleepy. Isuddenly remembered that I hadn’t slept much in over 24 hours.Abbey and Mum were haling their bags over to a little desk after the smiley lady.‘Have you prebooked then?’ The Smiley lady cooed as she bent over a clipboard on thedesk.Mum nodded ‘Yeah. A few weeks ago actually’.‘Okay.’ Smiley lady paused flicking through her clipboard ‘What date exactly did youbook ? Its just that its been recorded on the paper under that date and theres no other waywe can find you name otherwise.’ She paused to draw breath ‘but theres nothing we canreally do about that’ she rambled on again.No? Have you ever heard of using a computer like other hotels?Then there was loads off faff when mum and Abbey and Me had to sign some register-apparently it was to show that we had been legally checked into the hotel. After a goodten minutes of signing and scribbling on her stupid register Smiley lady grinned again atus.‘Okay, that’s all the procedures done. Heres your keys, and you’re down the corridor andon your first left. Rooms 3,4 and 5’ . She handed each of us little keys about the size ofyour finger nail on your little finger. I started down the corridor along with my case,leaving mum and Abbey behind. I had
  37. 37. 21________________________________________Jessops Inn