Chapter 18 - Zoe
I didn’t know how long Viv would be, so at first, I wasn’t worried. She left for the station at about 9:30 am. I clocked the time when I resumed our comedy antics from the night before. By midday, I figured she’d decided to pick up lunch on her way home. At 1 pm my phone started ringing, sending me running across the room.
“Viv? Where are you?” I answered, breathless.
“Sorry, it’s DC Wilde. Is everything alright?”
“I was expecting Viv back by now, has she left yet?”
“I was calling to see if you knew where Vivienne was, we were expecting her some time ago. When did she leave?”
“Around 9:30 am. It couldn’t have taken her longer than half an hour to reach you.”
“And you haven’t heard from her since?” The air of concern was absolute.
“No, I’ve texted her, but I figured she couldn’t use her phone at the station. She never made it?”
“No. Zoe, is there anywhere else she would have gone? Do you think she would consider approaching your father by herself at all?”
The very idea made my blood run cold. Would Viv go to see my father, alone?
Tears trickled down my face without me holding back, “…I…I don’t know.”
“Sit tight. We will send someone round. Check the place out. We’ll find her Zoe. We’ll find her.”
It turns out, they were wrong.
When I first met Viv, I was just five years old. We started school together. From the minute I saw her, I loved her. As a kid, Viv was so sparky and creative. All the girls wanted to be her, and all the guys wanted to date her. I was like a moth to a flame. No one ever came between us. Until now.
All afternoon I crouched by the phone, waiting. I didn’t eat, didn’t sleep. I didn’t move an inch – couldn’t. I was no longer aware of myself. All I could think about was Viv. Where was she? Was she hurt?
Outside, the sky grew a deep marine, and I watched as shadows slowly floated across the timber floors. In the distance, the city buzzed with life; engines roared, birds sang, and people gossiped.
When the police updated me on the situation, I knew I’d never see Vivienne again. Something deep inside of me just knew.
“We’ve spoken to family, work – no one has seen or heard from her,” they informed me.
My eyes closed heavy. My heart sank. “And my father?”
“She’s not with him. He has an alibi, Zoe. He’s been at work all morning. We’ve filled a missing person’s report and will continue checking nearby CCTV and cash machines. Did she say anything, anything at all about leaving town?”
How can someone just vanish? They made no sense.“Viv would never just leave me without telling me where and why,” saliva spluttering from my mouth as I spoke. “She’s my best friend. I know her. This has to have something to do with my father. The day after we submit evidence, condemning him, Vivienne goes missing. Don’t you think that’s strange DI Jones?”
After a few awkward seconds, she replied, “I’m sorry Zoe. We will continue searching. Viv might likely turn up. Are you able to stay at her house in case she returns? Will you let us know if you hear from her?”
“Yes, of course. I really hope you’re right.”
“If you need us, Zoe, if something happens, anything, you call us. Okay?”
“Yep…thanks.” I tried not to sound disheartened, I knew DI Jones was only trying to be sympathetic. I just couldn’t understand how any of this was happening, and it felt like nobody was helping.
After the call with the police, I arranged for my neighbour to feed Barney while I stayed at Vivienne’s place. I couldn’t face food, but my throat longed for spirits. A bottle of gin perched elegantly atop a gold drinks trolley. Forgoing a glass, I glugged a quarter in one sip. My throat scorched with the heat. It tasted acrid. Harsh. Good.
Beyond the kitchen, the bed beckoned. Without hesitation, I ambled in, gin bottle in hand, and cocooned myself in Vivienne’s sheets, contemplating how on earth I let any of this happen.
In a drunken haze, I reached for my mobile and watched through rolling eyes as my phone rang. Then I heard his voice. I ignored his greeting and slurred against the phone, “Where is she?”
“I don’t know, Zoe. Come home, please. I can—”
“You are lying to me. You’ve been lying to me for a long time haven’t you?” I snarled. “I know you have done something. If you ever loved me, you would tell me what you have done!”
The phone beeped against my ear – call ended. I stared at the mobile in my trembling hand, building with rage, and launched it into the air. I didn’t flinch when it smatters onto the floor. I remained curled up in a ball, reeling from the exchange, trying to understand what it meant.