Looking for Faith

Hope is just a sixteen year-old with a knack for making deductions and reading people, with a passion for criminal psychology. Preparing for her GCSEs feels like the biggest struggle she will ever have to overcome. But then Hope's little sister Faith goes missing and everyone is sure it is kidnap. In fact, the kidnapper seems to be toying with them, leaving them little clues, messages and calling cards. So, she invites you to follow her through what will quite possibly be the hardest 12 hours of her life. And not everything is quite as it seems...

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1. 9:00am

The snow danced and twirled outside, catching on the gentle drafts and breezes of bitter, winter air.

Maths class has never been my favourite lesson; but I'm fairly good at it. Nowhere near as good at it, as I am at psychology though. I want to study criminal psychology at uni. I'm not sure which uni I want to go to. Maybe Cambridge, or Oxford. Durham looks nice too though.

Sitting at my desk now, my heart sinks as I see what Mr. Whittaker is writing on the board:

Solving the equation of a straight line

I understand algebra, I get probability, but shape and graphs? Oh, no. I open my book and pick up my pen. I hate GCSEs. Suddenly the phone in the school office across the corridor rings, and we all look up; taking the easy opportunity to chat.

"I bet that's Miss Jones's boyfriend," my partner Mia whispers to me. We have been friends since year 7 - so, 4 years - and I know she has a flair for the dramatic. I simply roll my eyes and go back to my work. "What?" Mia asks me. "Do you think she's too old for a boyfriend?"

"No," I whisper back. "She's just fairly recently divorced, so probably in no hurry to start dating again."

"Again?" Mia asks me. My friends often call me Miss Holmes because I'm good at reading people and making deductions based on impressions.

"This one's easy," I whisper back. "She's got two slim, ring-shaped tan lines on her ring finger, and three weeks ago her wedding and engagement rings vanished. She also stopped wearing make-up, started putting alcohol in her coffee and so on..."

"Oh," replies Mia simply.

*************************************************************

To the whole class's surprise, Miss Jones walks out of the office, leaving the door to bang behind her, and walks uninvited into our classroom.

"That's fine. Don't bother knocking," says Mr. Whittaker stroppily. He always hates having our lessons interrupted by someone.

"Sorry Mr. Whittaker," she replies. "I have a message for Hope."

As she says this, 28 pairs of eyes turn to look at me, and I feel my face blush as I reach around to grab my blazer off the back of my chair and follow Miss Jones into the corridor. The last thing I see before the door shuts in my face is Mia smiling at me encouragingly.

********************************************************************

Miss Jones looks concernedly at me. "We've had a call from the police station, Hope. Maybe we should sit down." She gestures to where three chairs are lined up outside the head's office in the maths corridor. As we take a seat, the headteacher herself walks out, and takes a seat next to me.

"I've just heard," she says to me. Just to say, I'm really freaking out now. What the hell is going on? "Hope, it's your sister, darling. She's gone missing and the police have reason to believe she's been kidnapped."

"What?" I ask, my whole body going numb in an instant.

"A taxi has been called to take you to the police station. Your parents are there already. Go and get your stuff from the classroom now, dear. Do you have anything you need to get from your locker?"

"I... I don't think s... Oh, wait. My phone's in there."

"Go now, then, sweetie, and try not to worry. I'm sure it's all just a big misunderstanding."

I stand up from where I have been seated and take a step towards the classroom. Through the glass panels in the door, I can see Mr. Whittaker telling Mia off for chatting, and her rolling her eyes and sticking out her tongue at his turned back - so intrinsically Mia. How can life go on so normally like this when my whole world has changed in the blink of an eye?

********************************************************

Slowly, ever so slowly, I force my arm out towards the door, and as my hand fastens in a fist around the cold, brass handle, everything that has happened suddenly becomes too much to take in. My body can't take the strain of everything any more, and silent tears start rolling down my cheeks as I manage to turn the door handle.

As the door opens, I manage to make my legs obey the order of putting one foot in front of the other. Everybody looks up from their books as I walk in, and instantly realise something is amiss.

Somehow, I manage to say to Mr. Whittaker, "Mrs. Marshall has given me permission to leave school. I just need to collect my things."

To my surprise, he just says, "Of course. And just phone the school if there are any complications we can help to smooth out."

"Thank you," I manage to choke out, before I turn on my heel and half-walk, half-stagger over to my desk. Achingly slowly, I pack up my stuff, but in the process I manage to knock my pencil case off the desk and all my pens, pencils, scissors, glue stick, everything, spills out onto the floor. I just stop dead. The walls feel like they're closing in on me. There's no air in here. I'm suffocating.

The sound of a chair scraping across the ground brings me out of my reverie, and I watch numbly as Mia picks all my stationery up off the floor, and all I can do is stand there as she packs up my bag. "Can I take Hope to her locker? I don't think she should be on her own at the moment." Mr. Whittaker just nods at her, clearly glad not to have to deal with the burden that is me at the moment.

Mia grabs me by the elbow and pulls me out of the classroom, the door squeaking open and shut on obviously unoiled hinges. Together, we walk out of the maths block and down the ramp towards the R.E. block where our lockers are, only a few paces from our form room - very handy if you forget something for first lesson.

We are walking side-by-side in awkward silence, but I have to admit, I'm not really noticing it, and anyway, I don't really care. How can Faith be gone? And who would want to take her? And how on earth do the police know that she's been kidnapped? Maybe she's just wandered off.

"Hope... Hope... Hello?" At this moment, I realise Mia is shaking my arm and trying to talk to me.

"What?" I say angrily. Finally, I've stopped crying, but I probably have weird lines running through my foundation, and thank the Lord for waterproof mascara.

"Are you just going to stand there lost in yourself after losing it in a lesson, or are you going to tell me what on earth is going on?"

"I think I'll just stand here lost in myself," I reply.

Mia stops suddenly and turns sharply on her heel so that she is right in my face and blocking my path. "What the hell is going on? You ARE going to tell me now, Hope, because you're not going anywhere until you do."

"I can't do this! I can't live through this!" I cry out suddenly, startling Mia. "It feels like I'm drowning and I can't get out."

"Hope! You're okay. What happened? Talk to me, Hope. You're really scaring me now." Mia's eyes are glistening, and I can see the tears begin to form in them as her bottom lip begins to wobble.

"It's Faith. She's gone missing, and the Police have reason to believe it isn't an accident." Tears are filling my eyes, too, now. "How can Faith be gone? I only spoke to her a few hours ago. I made her breakfast - pancakes shaped like little smiley faces."

Mia puts a hand on my shoulder. "Everything will be okay, Hope. The Police will find her. She's probably just wandered off after an ice cream van or something." She laughs at her own feeble joke, then gives me an encouraging smile. "I need to go back to class and continue to make Mr Whittaker tear his hair out with my idiocy and ignorance. So go now, Hope. Go impress the Police with your expert knowledge on everything."

"How can I? I'm not sure I can face it. I can't do this alone. I know you can't come because of school, but I really need someone to help me through this - to stay with me."

"Call him," Mia replies. I look confusedly at her, but she continues. "Call Aiden and put your differences behind you. He as stood with you so many times before, and I'm sure he'll be there for you again. When you fall, he's always be there to catch you. So call him. Call Aiden, then go find Faith."

********************************************

Mia and I finish our walk to the lockers in complete silence, both mulling over what the other has said. I guess I could call Aiden, but chances are, he won't pick up. After our break-up three weeks ago, he's been really stand-offish with me. We agreed we should remain friends, but he keeps ignoring my texts and refusing my invites to House Party. I don't see him at school much either. He's taking Art, Music, P.E. (all tend to go together...) and Computer Science (??? not so common with the others - but he's an expert hacker), whereas I'm taking Psychology, Triple Science, French, German, Spanish etc. My only musicality is that I play a little of the ukulele my mum gave me some years ago.

For a while, Aiden and I were the ream couple, the perfect example of opposites attract. On Wednesdays, I would coach him in Science and MFL (he hates psychology for some reason!!!), and he taught me Music and Art on Thursdays. But after about six months, I realised we were being pulled apart by study and GCSEs, so we decided to "get some space". In other words, we broke up. After that, three weeks of banging into each other in school corridors and town (all being really awkward), brings us to now.

 

 

 

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