The Stolen Girl

The Stolen Girl by Renita D'Silva Read Free Book Online

Book: The Stolen Girl by Renita D'Silva Read Free Book Online
Authors: Renita D'Silva
you, Diya, my darling girl, light of my life.’ Echoing up the narrow corridor in a blast of panic-scented, sorrow-tinged air.
    My stomach hurts. I hurt, everywhere. I put my head between my knees and I rock, my mouth producing those weird keening sounds again. The policewoman pats my back, ‘There, there.’ She tries to hold me.
    I push her away and rush to the cupboards, rooting around inside until I find the pack of Haribo Starmix I shoved in the other day when I heard Mum’s key in the lock, and the six-pack of crisps I keep with the spare toothbrushes that we never need to use, but if we do, it is my responsibility to find them as Mum always forgets where she puts them.
    I sit on the sofa and eat my way through the pack of Haribo and some of the crisps, dropping wrappers and crumbs everywhere, not offering any to the woman who I am pretending isn’t there. Even though I am partial to sweets and crisps, I do not usually eat in this uncontrolled manner, without caring how much junk I am stuffing into my body. Normally, I am careful, rationing my treats, saving them for when I really need them, for when the bullying has been particularly bad, say. And if this doesn’t qualify as an emergency, a time when I really need the sustenance, the comfort of junk food, then I don’t know what does. Food is the only thing I can think of now that can tide me through this nightmare, bite by bilious bite.
    I crunch and chew and swallow and these sounds drown out the clamour in my brain, all those questions and worries and hurts spilling out and demanding answers. I eat without tasting a thing; everything is dark blue, the colour and texture of grief. I eat until there is a knock and I jump up and rush to the door on wobbly legs that refuse to move fast enough. I push it open and begin to say, ‘Mum. I knew they would let you go. I knew they had made a mistake…’
    It isn’t Mum. I knew it. I did. Somewhere deep down I knew.
    As if from afar, I hear the policewoman say, ‘This is your social worker,’ her voice incredibly gentle, like a glass vase that might break from too much pressure.
    My ears are ringing. I am swaying on my feet, like my mum did when she saw me, that moment when the world as I knew it imploded in my face. I picture the globe that represents my world shattering, the confetti of iridescent, dancing particles, the million shards sparkling and glittering and winking up at me. So beautiful and yet so deadly, each little piece fit to draw blood. I picture myself stepping on the tantalising, inviting shrapnel, each shimmering pearl topped with a perfect vermilion globule of my blood, round like an Indian woman’s bindi, like the bindis my mother likes to wear…
    The woman standing in the doorway is stout, bespectacled, with greying hair and kind eyes. Someone’s mum. Just not mine.
    I turn around and rush to the bathroom, making it just in time. I am violently sick, again and again, and the feeling is welcome. It is much better than shock and numbness pierced by pinpricks of hurt, stabs of pain, incisions of grief and, worst of all, notches of acceptance. In a corner of my mind, I know.
    I know because of the way my mum looked at me, the resignation in her eyes as she was led away. I know because of the way her eyes were constantly flitting everywhere, forever checking, only ever at rest when it was just her and me in the confines of our flat, the curtains drawn, phone off the hook: ‘So no one will disturb us; I need it after the day I’ve had.’
    I know because of the way her hand used to grip mine tight sometimes when we were out, how she used to whisper, ‘Come on,’ and lead me down this alleyway and that, urgently, her little feet making huge strides so I struggled to catch up, her palm locked in mine, gaze darting like a startled fox in search of cover, until we were completely alone. Only then would she stop, making sure, once again, that there was no one about. Then we would bend double catching

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