The next morning, Melanie rang pretty early, explaining that she had heard about Mrs. Harrows and would like to take Rosa out, to take her mind off it.
I agreed immediately,Rosa had become very distant since Mrs. Harrows disappeared, I knew how much she had looked up to her, and felt that it would be good for her to get out and have fun with her best friend.
“We’ll be back before ten, I promise,” Rosa smiled at me, giving me a kiss on the cheek before she left, she was no longer as cold as she’d been at first, and was more and more starting to act like herself, that was, before Mrs. Harrows disappearance, but I was certain that she was well on the way to recovery, and that she would be back to her old self in no time.
It was pitch black, and the rain was pouring. My heart was beating fast. I need to get to her.
I pressed my foot down harder on the accelerator, I was going 70 miles an hour, but it wasn’t fast enough.
Eventually, I reached the edge of Raven’s Brow Woods; I clambered out of the car, and ran towards my daughter. A police officer had a hand on her shoulder, and was asking her questions while writing on a pad, another officer was talking to Melanie’s mother, trying to reassure her.
“Mum!” Rosa shouted, running into my open arms, she began sobbing and I held her tight.
“It’s ok sweetie, I’m here now,”
We sat back down on the bench next to the police officer she had just been talking to, my arms still around her. I could hear Melanie’s mother’s sobs, and her husband trying desperately to comfort her.
“You need to tell this PC Smith exactly what happened,” I whispered to Rosa, looking over to the young police officer, Felicity Smith. She was one of the few police officers on the island, and we all knew them, that’s just what it was like living here, everyone knew everyone.
“Ok, Rosa, you can tell me everything. We need you to be as accurate as possible,” PC Smith said very gently.
“Melanie’s gone,” Rosa whispered, “That man took her...”
She burst into sobs again, and clung onto me.
“I need you to tell me everything, Rosa, please. I know it’s hard, but start from the beginning.”
Rosa took a deep breath, tears still streaming down her face, she held my hand and began to tell her story:
“Melanie came round to mine at about one o’clock to pick me up. We wondered around the shops for a bit, trying on clothes and stuff like that. Then we went to Zara’s Café for some lunch, and then we went to the park. We just stayed there for a while, messing about and stuff, and then when it started to get dark, I suggested that we come to the woods, play games and tell ghost stories, stupid stuff like that….” Rosa put a hand to her mouth, trying to stile a sob, my grip on her tightened as she continued “So, we went to the woods, and told spooky stories, and just messed around for a bit. Then Melanie noticed that there was this guy watching us. I started to panic, and was getting really scared. She kept me calm, and she told me that we should start walking through the woods, and try to lose him. We started walking, and he was following us, so we started running. We were holding hands as we were running, but I don’t know what happened, cos suddenly she wasn’t holding my hand anymore, and I couldn’t see her or the man. I kept running, trying to look for her, but I couldn’t see her anywhere. I tried to find her, she wasn’t there,” Rosastarted sobbing again, trying desperately to get her words out between sobs “I… called her… but she… wouldn’t answer. I... kept running… and… I found the road… and called the police… and my mum.”
Rosa completely broke down then, her head on my lap. I stroked her hair and rocked her from side to side, trying to calm her down.
Eventually, Rosa calmed down enough to answer a few more questions, so I went over to Melanie’s mum.
“God, Kelly, I am so sorry,” I sat down next to her, putting my hand in hers, “But the whole police force is out looking for her, her dad’s out there getting a search party looking and everything. We’ll find her,”
“She’s dead,” Kelly whispered, silent tears pouring down her face, “I can feel it, in my heart; I know she’s not here anymore.”
I squeezed her hand, but I couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“How did you deal with it?” Kelly muttered,
“What do you mean?” I asked
“Losing your boys, Jamie and Danny? And your husband too? I don’t think I could ever get over this. She was my little girl, and now she’s…” She trailed off at the end, staring out into the distance
“I haven’t really gotten over it, Kelly. I never will. I’m sorry, but this will stay with you forever. But I managed to move forward, I just concentrated onRosa, she was my future. And that’s what you’ve got to do, concentrate on little Ava and Luke, and your husband.” I said softly, “And besides, you don’t know that she’s dead, she could be hiding somewhere, they might still find her,”
Kelly shook her head again, “She’s gone. She’s dead. I know it. Just like you knew that Jamie and Danny were dead before their bodies were pulled out of the fire. You told me that, remember?” Her tear-filled eyes met mine for the first time, and I put my arms around her.
Rosa soon came to join us, and the three of us sat there, in the rain, for nearly the whole night.