The Lost Girl

My smile soured. I wanted to fight the thoughts that were creeping into my head, but instead I let them flow over me.

What if it had been him? I knew I was acting on irrational impulses – namely the evidence of a child’s doll - but I couldn’t stop myself. He had always been unusual, never having married or held a steady job. I’d overhear my mother and aunts talk pityingly of him, wishing he’d find a nice girl to settle down with. Strange that he didn’t. Stranger still was his strained and awkward relationship with me. Perhaps…

I tried desperately to make something of it, trawling my memories for any hints or clues. My recollections of her death are hazy in the extreme, and I’ll only occasionally remember the odd scene or snatch of dialogue in passing. I could possibly have repressed some of it, perhaps because of him.

One thing I do recall is the day of her funeral, with everyone clad in black and crying in the living room. I had been sent to play with my cousins, and when I returned everyone was sitting in the chairs, eating sandwiches and drinking lemonade.

I asked what was wrong, and my question hung in the room for an eternity. Then Uncle Sidney had looked at me, giving me a distant and unfeeling glance. I felt as though he’d taken a cold, bony finger and prodded it into the back of my spine. Then I had started to cry.

Forty years later, and I was still crying. Crouched over my patchwork of papers, I failed to prevent a steady stream of tears rolling down my cheeks and into my mouth.  If these cloudy speculations formed into a hard truth then the repercussions were colossal. It also meant I was sharing a house with a child killer. My blood boiled, chilled, ran in cold streams through my veins. I ran to the door suddenly and bolted it.





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