Owen pulls it away and closes it, pushing the small of my back to make me walk ahead of him. I stumble forwards, clutching my bag. We’re walking up a long gravel path. There’s a house ahead of us. It looks a bit like an old mansion, only scaled down.
There are two floors instead of the three or more than seem to be popular on the genuinely large country houses. Each one has five windows, though the ones on either end are close together, which suggests it’s either one room or two very small ones. In the middle there’s a grand porch with three steps going up to it. The door is grand too, but no bigger than my own door at home. It’s so strange – it really is like everything has been scaled down.
They lead me not to the front door but an undersized one around the side, a servants’ entrance. From there I’m pushed down a narrow corridor that twists and turns until I’m totally disoriented, and there at the very end, next to a wall with peeling paint, is a door. We’ve passed several on the way, but none of them had handles, or locks.
This one has both. “This is your room,” says Owen with a leer, and unlocks it. He pushes me inside and I fall to my knees on thick carpet, just in time to see the door close and hear the key turn in the lock. I’m a prisoner.
But this room isn’t the cell I was expecting. Perhaps I watch too many dramas, but I was expecting a concrete floor and iron bedframe: this place looks more like a hotel.
There’s an enormous bed in the middle, a double bed. I’ve never had one of those before. There isn’t room in my bedroom at home, to be honest, since it’s about a quarter of the size of this one. Then, next to the bed on either side, there’s a bedside table – two drawers and a little cupboard, with a lamp on top. There’s a wardrobe in the corner, and a bookshelf next to it. I’ve never heard of any of the books on it, and half of them seem to be in Russian.
The floor is wooden, although they’ve provided me with a thick-weave rug by the side of the bed. The far wall is reasonably bare, with no pictures or hangings. There’s a door in the corner, not the one I came in by. The rest of the wall is dominated by a polished ballet barre, at exactly the right height for me.
It’s like they knew the girl they were abducting was a dancer.
I walk over to the wardrobe and open it. It’s mostly empty, though there are a few bent wire coathangers that clatter together, but at the far end of the rail there’s a dress that looks like it’s about my size. It reminds me more than anything of a lyrical costume like the one I wore in the show last year. It’s about knee length, off-white in colour, made of two layers. Both of them are stretchy material. The bodice is simple and it has spaghetti straps to hold it on.
I pull open the drawers, but they’re a similar story. They’re empty but for a pair of ballet tights.
My confusion increases: they knew they were taking a dancer.
How did they know?