'Anna!' A shout resonated up the stairway and bounced around her room.
'Coming, I'm coming!' She yelled back as she quickly stuffed the remainder of her things into a small backpack. She wasn't entirely sure what she was going to take with her. She didn't know where she was going, she didn't know for how long, she didn't even know what she would be doing. She just knew the note was important and the person who wrote it was even more so. It was another link in the chain; she was slowly filling in the gaps. She swept the room for anything else that she might need. She had clothes, money, phone, keys, her notepad in which she had neatly folded the most recent note on which she was planning her journey, alongside the three others she had received in the last three months. There was also a number of newspaper clippings which contained anything that could be relevant. There were many, and none directly mentioned what she really wanted, exept one. She glanced over it as she often did, absorbing the sharp but dull pain as she cast her eyes over the headline:
YOUNG GIRL DISAPPEARS UNDER SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES
It went on to talk about the police inquiry which followed the disappearance of her sister. She remembered that also with a rude pinch; she was interrogated by police three times down at the local station. But that was a number of times less than she was questioned fiercly by her father. Before to make sure she had her story straight. After to force her to recount every word, each utterance, even when she paused, to see if it seemed plausable to an outsider. She didn't know which interview was worse. Being bullied to lie, or actually doing it.
She then shook herself out of the unpleasant reminiscing to fold up the snippets once again and place them carefully back amongst the empty pages of her notepad. She then hastily grabbed the flashlight that sat in the bottom drawer of her desk alongside her other belongings that rarely saw the light of day. She was so preoccupied with making sure she had everything she needed she didn't here the soft footsteps that had been quietly moving up the stairs. She had a split second to react as she heard the hallway floorboard squeak loudly, as if the house was warning her of the imminent arrival. She threw her cover over the bag and pretended to busy herself with tidying.
'What in God's name do you think you're doing? How many times do I have to bloody well tell you missus?'
Her father's face was wild. His dark rugged features and wide jaw made him look like a predator, eyeing up his prey. He did well to keep the steadiness in his voice, but those eyes betrayed everything. Under the surface, he was supressing a scorching anger. She immediately rebuked herself; She shouldn't have tried his patience. Not tonight.
'I - I'm sorry Dad, I was just finishing up some...some work from earlier...' She stumbled on her words; his eyes flashed and she knew she'd given herself away.
'Really? Well I don't know whether that is the entire truth now, is it? Why don't we just take a little trip to the spare room, see if you can manage the truth there, shall we?'
'No! I mean, no, I honestly, I just finished, look!' She grabbed the pile of work she had just organised and waved it at him.
'See? It's maths. I was struggling, you know-'
One severe look and Anna was silenced. His quick, darting eyes flew across the room, and to Anna's dismay, stopped breifly upon her bed. He then looked back at her. With no warning he leapt forward and grabbed her arm, slapping her full in the face, then round the back of the head.
'No! P-please, Dad, p-p-lease don't!'
It was nothing more than a whisper, but she knew it wouldn't quell him now.He threw her to the ground and moved to the door, three shadows moving around the room from the different lights in her room. His face looked as blank as snow.
'You're a lucky girl tonight Anna, a very lucky girl.'
He turned and slammed the door behind him. She lay sprawled on the floor, her eyes flooding her face and mouth until they felt sore. She wept with a mixture of utter despair and absolute relief. She then caught a glimpse of her blue backpack hanging out of the side of the bed. She roughly pushed back the tears and stood up. She knew that now was her chance. He was most likely off to The Laying Hen down the street. She waited a few moments then heard the slam of the front door. It was now or never. She grappled with her pink and blue fountain pen Kate had bought her for Christmas three years ago and scrawled a note, then gracefully placed it on her pillow.
Her mother found it later that evening when she went to console her middle daughter, and bring some food that she had been vehemently instructed not to bring her. The plate smashed and the ink ran with salty water.
I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't leave you but I can't do it anymore. I love you. I'm going to find Kate. After that, who knows. Scarlett won't understand, but tell her I love her too.