My bare cheek presses lightly against the cool surface of my bedroom wall, the coldness doing nothing to numb my inconsolable, racing, thoughts. My hands are wrapped around my knees in an attempt to give myself some sort of comfort...it doesn’t work. I can feel my heart squeeze in discomfort as it tries to repair the hole that appeared when I found out Carma was missing.
Her family and I have put up posters of her picture all over London, as far out as possible but they are just useless bits of wasted paper flying in the wind. I’ve seen crowds of people trample over the sheets without even batting an eyelid. I fear that as time goes on, Carma gets further and further away from us and I can’t do anything about it. I feel so trapped , like an innocent, caged animal struggling to get free. It’s an overwhelming, oppressive feeling that jabs at my conscience, constantly reminding me that I am useless, in every way, when it comes to being able to locate her.
The thick, dark blackness that encapsulates me, isn’t enough to block out the horrible thoughts that plague my mind. I picture Carma in a damp, ill-lighted room. The vulgar scent of rotting flesh clings to the air, as well as the smell of fresh blood that has been pasted onto the walls like paint. The room is small and claustrophobic, and only contains a single, wooden chair which Carma has been bound to with, hard, scratchy rope that rubs at her wrists and makes them red and raw.
I shake my head, trying to ignore my racing heart and my nightmarish thoughts. ‘Carma is okay and we will find her’. I recite the mantra I’ve been telling myself this past week. It doesn’t console me one bit.
I press the home button on my phone, the light from the screen illuminating my bedroom, allowing me to see the outline of all the picture frames that litter my lilac walls. Each one a terrible reminder that Carma is gone. Her absence has been duly noted in our friendship group at school.
I flick to her contact in my phone and press the call button. I kid myself every time, convinced that she’s going to answer and that she’ll tell me she accidentally got locked in a cupboard or something. I laugh, the sound getting lost somewhere in my throat, instead a pain-filled sob replaces it. I know she’s not going to answer.
My heart rips into shreads when the continuous blare of the phone proves me right. My rage is taken out on the square piece of metal junk that is in my hand as I squeeze it with all my might. My breaths quicken as I start to panic. She’s not coming back, Carma is not coming back. The sudden feeling of fury rises in me, so much so that I want to throw something, anything, just to release my pent up anger. I go to throw my phone at the wall, feeling as though the sound of shattering glass and metal smashing into the walls will help calm my pounding heart. Instead, I take a minute to look at the screen, focusing on one app in particular:
Find My IPhone.
My heart starts to blossom with the tiniest bit of hope but the sudden realisation that I could have found her ages ago, fills me up with so much self hate. I’m so stupid, it was so simple.
I remember us setting this up. Carma had lost her phone at the beach that day and when we finally found it, stuck in the middle of a toddlers sandcastle, we had agreed to turn Find my IPhone on. I just hope,with every little fibre in my being, that she hasn’t switched it off. ‘Should I tell someone or should I just keep this to myself’ I think. I can’t help but feel as though that if this plan doesn’t fall through, everyone will be disappointed in me and I will feel so guilty for getting everyone’s hope up, just to fail. No-one is going to know until I am absolutely positive that I have found her and-
“Mae! Get ready we’re leaving for the party in twenty minutes!” My mum calls from downstairs. “And you better be ready, because God help you if your not. I’ve been telling you to get ready for the past...”
I reply with a quick ‘yeah’ before blocking her voice out completely. I am going to find Carma, even if it means the death of me. I stand upbruptly and start to get ready for the party. A party that I couldn’t care less about. Rolan is probably going to be there, I groan. If this wasn’t for Carma, I would avoid this party like the plague.
“Mae! Are you ready!” My mum shouts. I can hear her angry feet climbing the stairs to my bedroom. I quickly pull my dress over my head and grab a pair of shoes. She swings the door open and peers in with scrutinising eyes. I smile innocently at her and say “Ready.” She narrows her eyes at me before shutting the door.
I let out a sigh of relief and finish dressing, giving myself a once over when I’m done. The stunning dress I wear hugs the curves of my body. The black material is embroidered with small diamond-like gems around the neck piece which sparkle under my bedroom light. The comfortable cloth ends just at mid thigh, showing my beautiful, shiny brown legs. I decide to leave my braids out, to show off the colours I had put in; electric blue and purple. My makeup is simple:Black eyeliner and wine-red lipstick.
I descend down the stairs with a new-found hope as well as jittery nerves. My stomach is doing somersaults, barely containing my anxiousness. What if when I find Carma, she’s dead. The image of finding her cold, lifeless body somewhere in the middle of a deserted forest has me quivering in paralysing fear. I shake my head to get rid of the frightening thought.
Entering my mums car, I grip my phone with sweaty palms. “You got everything?” My mum asks, revving the car to life, I nod. It’s all I can manage. If I had spoken, she would have heard the shake in my voice and knew something was up.
My mum groans and honks our car horn once again, the action having no affect on the cars that are lined up along the highway for as far as I can see. I would be grateful for the traffic, if I weren’t so intent on finding Carma. During the time spent in the car, I had decided that whilst the party was in full swing I would go to find her. If I happened to stumble across something too dangerous I would call the police immediately but now my plan had been pushed back by about forty minutes. It is getting late, really late and I’m starting to get worried. What if the people who have taken Carma move by the time I’m able to get to her? The last time I checked she was about three miles away.
It’s been an hour and we haven’t moved, I look at my phone, and it seems like Carma hasn’t either.
“Why is it taking so long?” I complain to my mum, who is sat with gritted teeth next to me. Her road rage could be the funniest thing sometimes.
“If this Ass... I mean man could move his big, hunk of junk to the right. I could slip into that side road over there and take the alternative route, but the fûc- um-fudgedoodle wont’t move.” She gives me a small tight lipped smile, I laugh, though my joy is short-lived as my previous worry starts to seep back into my brain. My heart starts to pound and I begin to feel woozy. The idea of never seeing Carma again fills my body with unrelenting, brittle fear that courses through my veins continuously. My mum notices this and rolls down her window, shouting out “Will you move your fucking car. My daughters having a bloody panic attack.” The car driver in-front just flips my mum off instead of moving out the way. Even in my panicked state, I can’t help but let out a strained laugh when I see the anger and adrenaline clear on her face. She revs the car engine, her own personal warning to the stubborn driver in front. She would hit the car if she really had to. The man in front seems to get the idea and ,without hesitation, moves his car to the right.
“Sweetheart listen. I’m not angry at you, it was that prîck that had me stressed ok. Whatever’s bothering you, it’s gong to be ok, alright.” She places her warm, gentle hand over my sweaty one and rubs the skin carefully with her thumb. My breathing begins to slow and I start to feel more relaxed.
“Do you still wanna go to this party, I’m sure you’re friends will understan-”
“No, it’s alright. I need to have some fun. I haven’t been out lately.” My mum gives me a sympathetic look.
“Carma is a smart girl,” she says, ” She’ll find her way back.Don’t worry.”
“How can I not?”
We finally, after an hour and a half extra, get to our destination;The Ritz. Normally a place like this would wow my senses with its bright, fluorescent lights that illuminate the streets for miles and its cream coloured paint that gives it an air of sophistication compared to the other grey buildings that clutter the London streets but now even the glowing radiance of the well known building seems dull and the intoxicating smell of lavish foods being served inside does nothing to excite me.
“Have fun, sweetheart. If you want me to come pick you up sooner just give me a ring.” My mum says, giving me a kiss goodbye.” I love you.”
“I love you too,” I say, shutting the car door and walking to the entrance. I hand my ticket to the usher who then directs me to the party.
The party hall is filled to the brim with my content classmates. The girls are dressed to the nines in dazzling attire and the boys look sharp in their tailored suits. Strobe lights-both green and blue-fill the massive hall and so does blaring music. I can’t spot any of my friends here but that might just be the flashing lights...or my eyes.I take out my phone to check on Carma’s location.
My stomach drops and my eyes widen when I see what’s on the screen. My breath quickens to a dangerous pace and my head begins to whirl. I swallow hard, trying to calm myself down so I don’t draw any attention to myself.
Carma is here!