VIII

Suddenly an Earth-shattering explosion shook the house and Miss Peterson and I fell against the little furniture in the room.

“What the Hell was that?” Yelled Miss Peterson as she lifted herself from the ruins of the chair. “Are you okay?”

“I think…” I said, but soon followed that with, “Ah, my head!” As I fell I must have knocked my head against what must have been a table. Now all that was left of said table were a couple of unstable legs and a smashed glass and wood board.

I gazed around the remains of the room. It was mostly intact, apart from the objects Miss Peterson and I had collapsed onto, there were actually only two other pieces in the room (I had not really taken in the room when I entered because I had been focused onto Miss Peterson): a healthy leafy green plant stood complete in it’s rusty red pot, but the large bookcase had lost every cover and half of its frame. Even a part of the room had been blown apart; a missing window was scattered around the room, in the rubble of its wall, whilst Miss Peterson was picking shards out of her untidy hair.

“What-what happened?” called grey haired Mrs. Craig, hurrying into the room, “Is anybody hurt?”

“No, thanks,” I replied. Then I spotted, through the missing pane of dusty glass, the young girl I had hit with the megaphone last night, running away from this house. “Look, who’s that? Is she part of the household?”

“Who?” Questioned Miss Peterson, peering where I had pointed.

“My height, wearing blue, or purple, clothes. Hair: short pale curls,” I shuddered. Was I imagining ghosts now?

“Who? I don’t see anyone?”

“There is only Carrie and I in the house n-now… Such a big house…” Trembled Mrs. Craig, before collapsing down to the ground. I hastily stepped over the wreckage to comfort her, but was too reckless as I almost tripped over a small book half hidden in some of the broken bookcase. Its soft-coated cover was not ruined or ripped like most other books in this room, and on its front cover was the lacy word: Album.

“A photo album…” I said a little breathlessly. It was uncommon for my mother to have kept an album, so I had had no experience of them beforehand.

“It’s old. I had forgotten about it,” the poor old lady moaned.

Something told me that she didn’t want this album to be involved, but my curiosity had already been piqued; it seemed that the album wasn’t the only thing she had forgotten about, judging by the layer of dust I had noticed coating the furniture as I came in. More than the layer that had coated the living room Mrs. Craig first ‘greeted’ me in, I mean.

 

Carefully, I prised open the discoloured book and peered at its contents. The small picture decorations had faded into white but the portrait of an attractive young man still shone out among the pages. He had light chestnut hair, short and neatly combed to the side, he looked casual and relaxed but his black and burgundy suit looked out of place in between the roses.

The next photo contained the same man with his arm around a man of about his age with a poofy black afro. This new man was more rugged and fitted into the scenery precisely; he wore a sports sweater with trainers and a large grin; they were obviously friends.

A gasp came from Miss Peterson’s direction and she whispered, “Andy…”

We were clearly all transfixed by this new turn of events. I flicked quickly through the album. Apart from a few baby pictures, most were of the two boys, in various stages of their lives: seven or eight years old in school uniform, greasy-haired teens grinning cheekily at each other in the backyard of somewhere- the summer heat glistening off their bare-chests. University graduates complete with dark mortarboards and gowns, and then just general photographs of the two as adults, some that even looked as though they had been taken at my secondary school.

“Such good boys,” Mrs. Craig murmured, almost so quietly that I might have missed it, had I not been close to her. Despite our misery, I felt like laughing.

“Well…they have quite a history!” I said, turning back to the teenagers. I must admit it felt quite naughty to see my teachers topless!

 

The next photos consisted of the slightly younger teenagers sitting around inside. Nothing appeared to be going on but one must have spoken about something amusing, as they were both in complete hysterics. I was just turning the page, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a figure, hiding quietly in a doorway to the right of the picture. The girl was about my age, with mousy brown hair, dark sky-coloured eyes and a slim body, hiding under a sack-shaped floral print summer dress.

I passed the picture over to my late teacher’s mother and said softly, tapping the photo, “Who is this?”

A dark cloud seemed to come over Mrs. Craig again as she gently stroked the young brunette.

“Lizzie… Josh’s sister… She went missing about eighteen years ago. She was only sixteen then. Nobody knows what happened to her.”

“How old was Joshua Craig?”

“He was only fourteen. He acted as though everything was okay, but I think it affected him deep inside.” She paused to reconsider a point,

“Hers was the birthday I mentioned earlier.”

“Of course…” I said, nodding. Now I could see why Mrs. Craig had been so distraught at losing her son, when she was also reminded of his lost sister. Her whole family had been torn apart.

I frowned and stood up.

“Thank you for everything,” I addressed Mrs. Craig and Miss Peterson, before abruptly turning round and marching out the room.

“Wait,” called Miss Peterson, getting up and following me, “What do we do now?”

Yes, good question. What would they do now? I mean, they couldn’t exactly go back to life as before, though, I suppose all that changed when Joshua Craig died, but they now know someone is ‘On the case’, they’ll want to have updates and such.

Oh, goodness, what have I done?

Ignoring the thoughts in my head, I didn’t reply to Miss Peterson and continued to walk towards the front door; I really couldn’t say. But as I placed my hand on that shiny, silver handle, a voice called, “There’s one more thing I can show you…”

The old lady had come to join Miss Peterson and me in the hall, and as she spoke, she turned towards the stairs…

The End

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