Knock, ring, wait.
Ring again, wait.
The door opens, a suspicious face. “Mrs. Kelly?”
“I’m Sarah Lapsley, I called this morning.” Sarah holds up the Disclosure Service pass, this person is safe to trust in your house, with your children. “Can I come in?”
“I suppose.” The door opens wider, grudging.
Into the front room, sit down, cup of tea, closed face.
“The police have still not found any sign of Kayla, Mrs. Kelly. Have you heard anything?”
“It’s been four weeks since they were notified that she's missing; I’m afraid they’re going to have to shelve the case.”
Her mouth twists, she looks away, rubs her eye.
“They’ve forwarded the case to the Social Services, I’m here to help.”
She meets Sarah’s eyes, looks away again.
“I can help if you let me. Please.”
“She’s gone. She’ll not be back.”
“Mrs. Kelly, she’s twelve years old, please tell me what could make her run away like this.”
“I can’t … no.”
“What is it? … Is it your husband?”
“No! My husband is a good man. He loved her. I loved her.”
“Mrs. Kelly, where is she? Do you know?”
Another shake of her head.
“Why did you not report that she was missing? It was the school truant officer who told the police. Three kids have run away from this estate in the last six months, have the neighbours said anything?”
"The neighbours … we have good neighbours.” Her voice is shaking, what’s the matter?
“Have you had any complaints about the neighbours?” Should have checked the anti-social behaviour records, do it back in the office.
“No! I said we have good neighbours. There’s been no … we have good neighbours. I’m sorry, my husband will be coming home soon, I need to get the tea on.”
“Of course. Thank you for your time. Here’s my card, please call me if you want to talk.”
Hustled out the door, it slams behind Sarah. It opens again; she turns, expectant, Mrs. Lapsley’s putting milk on the doorstep, doesn’t look at her. Hadn’t seen any cats around.
Back to her car, chill November air. Kayla Kelly, last seen at the bus stop on the Boglestone roundabout, same as the other two kids. There’s the stone, a big lump of granite out of place, said to be brought to the flood-plain fields by fairies. Bus stop right next to it, shelter light flickering in the gathering gloom. It’s backed by light bushes, there’s nowhere for anyone to lurk.
Rustle behind Sarah; grasp the alarm in her pocket, look over her shoulder. Nothing there, was that a titter? A nasty little laugh, the other side of her. The street light above flickers, like the bus shelter. In time with the bus shelter. Fumble with her keys, should have had them out of her bag already, shit. Door opens, dive into the seat, something yanks her hair, slam!
Leaves blow across the windscreen.