"Ready or not". The last words I remember hearing my little sister say to me. The last words that I heard the girl I was supposed to be protecting say. "Ready or not". The only words that went through my head when I lay in bed at the dead of night. The only words that made me shoot bolt upright in bed in the early hours. "Ready or not". There was no scream, no panic, no way I could've known. There was no way that I could've told she had been taken. Taken away from me. From my mother. From our family. They couldn't even look at me for weeks. They still can't hold a proper conversation with me. She's been missing for two months now; still no word. We're all fearing the worst; praying that it isn't so, but doubting that there is any other way.
"The police were around again this morning," mother said to me as I sat at the table, picking at dinner. She still had her back turned to me. "What did they say?" I asked, managing to convince myself to take a small piece of the bacon that was sat on my plate. Mother spun around, a wild gleam in her eyes. Madness. "What the hell do you think they said?" She yelled, throwing the china plate that she had been previously washing up to the ground. I didn't react; I didn't even flinch. I was used to it now. Two weeks she'd been doing this. We'd already had to go out and buy a new set of dinner plates. Twice. I could see the madness leave my mother's eyes and a deep sadness filled them instead. Now it was her breaking down moment. "They still haven't found her," she began to sob. "They still haven't found my little girl. They still haven't found the bastard who took her." Her hands were shaking and she managed to reach forwards and grab hold of the back of a chair and scrape it round to sit on. She pressed her hands over her eyes and sobbed louder. "Don't look at me," she groaned. "I'm a state; don't look at me!" I got up from my chair and went to the cupboard. I opened the door and took out a dustpan and brush. I went over to the broken plate and began to sweep it up. "Leave it," mother sobbed. I ignored her. "Leave it!" She suddenly yelled, kicking out with her left leg. It hit me in the shoulder and I stumbled towards the cabinets. My head hit the door but I brushed it off and got back to my feet. That one was new, I thought to myself. She doesn't normally hit out. "What were you doing, anyway?" She said, wiping the last of the tears away. She looked up at me - the gleam of madness had returned - and pushed herself to her feet. She was stable now - no shaking. "Why didn't you help her?" She asked. I took a step away from her; she always did this; always brought it up. She knew why. "Because she didn't make a sound," I mumbled. Mother sneered and walked over to me, stepping over the plate and dustpan and brush. "She's a eight year old girl. She was being kidnapped. She'd have screamed, Jonathan," she almost spat. I flinched and turned away. I hated her - anybody - using my full name. I walked out of the kitchen door. Mother followed. "He must have covered her mouth," I said, beginning to climb the stairs to my bedroom. Mother remained at the bottom of the stairs but sneered again. "Ready or not," she spat. "That should have given it away, Jonathan. She never even finished the fucking sentence!" I reached the top of the stairs and stormed into my bedroom, slamming the door shut behind me, the words "ready or not" echoing in my ears.