Night takes an eternity to come. Now the sun has finally set, I sliver out of my house. If I dawdle, I may not have enough time to make it to Sophia before the police arrive. That doesn’t stop me sucking in the evening air with exhilaration and fondness. My nocturnal surroundings seem to acknowledge my presence approvingly. How I’ve missed you.
My dad is mistaken. By the time the cops come, they’ll have been notified with Ali’s statement and Sophia will have been unburdened from the lies, empowered to fight against her father once and for all. Things will all work out, he’ll see.
I pierce the familiar key into Sophia’s front door, but it resists. I force it again and again without success. Damn it, the key no longer fits. As I stand contemplating my next move, the hallway floods with light. Abruptly, the door flings open to reveal Janice, tired-eyed and enraged.
“What are you doing here?”
“I need to speak with Sophia. It’s urgent.”
“I don’t care how urgent it is, you aren’t supposed to be here.”
“Sophia!” I call, storming past Janice. My feet fly up the stairs as Janice calls me back. I ignore her cries and run into Sophia’s room.
“Sophia, I need to talk to you.”
As I rush over to her bed, I see it is empty.
“Where is she? Has he got her?” I press.
“Has who got her?”
As I turn round, I already know who is hovering by the doorway – Fred Andrews. Wrapped in a dressing gown he rubs his eyes and glares at me. Janice stands behind him watching on with worry.
“Where is Sophia?” Janice screams. “Where has she gone?”
A blare of sirens interrupts her outburst, and I falter with my steps. What’s happening?
“I think you better be going,” Fred declares. “They’re coming for you.”
I scan Sophia’s room one last time and notice her opened, empty drawers. My stomach drops and a lump forms in my throat. I’m too late.
Bounding down the stairs, the shrieks elevate in my ears. My parents are already stood on the pavement, concern plastered across their weary faces.
“Lucas, what did I say,” my dad scorns when I walk outside.
“What?” my mum replies.
Just then, I hear the sound of car doors creak open and then slam shut. Before I can respond, a police officer grabs my arm and leads me into the back of his patrol car. Outside the car window, I hear the muffled voice of Janice begging the officers to find her daughter. To find Sophia. Fred loiters in the background, quiet. Just as we are about to speed off to the station, I think I see him begin to cry.