“Ready or not.” My mother’s voice drifted into the room and stirred me from my sleep. “I’m coming in,” Mother said and the door creaked open. She stood there, already dressed in a grey sweatshirt and a pair of tracksuit trousers. “Get dressed,” she breathed. I could see her eyes were swollen red and puffy. She’d been crying. “What’s wrong?” I asked, leaping out of bed and pulling a drawer open. I suddenly realised I was still dressed. “The police just called,” she whispered. “They think they’ve found Alice.”
We drove to the police station in silence. Mother and I didn’t breathe a word the entire journey. We were too petrified of what was to come. It had been months since Mother had seen Alice; I only saw a vision of her. We were now driving to the police station to see Alice in the flesh. Somebody had taken her from us. Taken Alice out of our lives.
Mother parked the car and we stepped out. The day seemed darker, now, tinged with the grief we both held in our hearts. We pushed the police station door open and stepped inside. The local Constable was waiting to meet us, a grave expression etched across his forehead.
“Ms. Stone,” Constable Roswell greeted Mother.
“Constable,” Mother replied, her voice breaking. He put his hand on her shoulder and held her firmly in place. His eyes turned kind as he looked at his old friend. “I’m terribly sorry for your loss, Amelia,” he breathed. He dug a hand in his pocket and pulled out a small bracelet. “I have to ask this,” he said, showing us the bracelet. “I know this is hard, but this was found on the girl’s wrist. Is it Alice’s?” It was a piece of blue string, with an ‘A’ between two beads. I took the bracelet from him and turned it over in my hand. “Yes,” I breathed. “It’s hers. I made it for her. The beads represent me and Mother and the A was Alice. It was supposed to stand for me and Mother always being there for her. It doesn’t look like it helped her,” I sighed. Constable Roswell patted my shoulder. “There was nothing you could’ve done, son,” he said. “I’ll give you two a few minutes. When you’re ready, she’s through the metal door over there. I’ll be waiting for you.” We thanked the Constable and he marched over to the metal door and walked through. Me and Mother were left in the open office, silently screaming that it wasn’t Alice who lay on the concrete slab in the room next door.