Extract - Witness

The next day, I sat on our settee with my dinner tray on my lap. Our TV hung from the wall in front of me, blasting out the day’s news. Arty lounged in a huge armchair on my left; his tray already discarded on the floor beside him. Mum sat in the matching chair on my right, beneath the bay window and nearest the door. Mel, having already finished her dinner, bounced at the other end of the settee turning my food into a moving target.

“Mel, will you sit still?” I hissed. “You’re making me sea sick!”

“Keila, don’t be over dramatic. She’s not hurting anything,” Mum said.

“Yeah, Nerd Face, don’t be such a misery guts,” Arty added.

“I notice you never sit next to her on the settee,” I said, scowling at him.

“That’s ‘cause I’m too smart and you’re so thi …” Arty began but didn’t finish. An image of Mexborough Railway station had appeared on screen. The bottom end of the car park was cordoned off and literally swarming with police cars and white clothed forensic guys.

“The body of a teenage girl was found in Mexborough earlier today. She’d been stabbed and her body left in a wooded area next to Mexborough Railway station.

It is believed to be the missing teenager, Jody Lancaster, who disappeared on Tuesday this week.”

I stared at the screen, my mouth open but no air going in. I think my heart stopped as well. It was like I’d been hit by a stun gun. In the corner of my eye I could see Mum’s head twisting from the TV, to me and back again, like an observer at a tennis match. Nobody moved. Even Mel stopped bouncing. The TV droned on but I never heard a word; it was like I’d dropped inside a water bubble with everything outside muffled and blurry.

They’re wrong! My brain screamed. It can’t be true. Jody’s too full of life and energy. It can’t be her.

Two heavy knocks on our front door broke the silence. Mum levered herself up, went out into the hall and opened the door. Muffled voices carried through, their words drowned out by the droning TV. The news had moved onto a different item now but I still saw the mass of trees, yellow tape and people in white forensic suits.

Movement in the doorway made me pull my eyes from the screen and focus on the figures in front of me. Standing beside Mum was a man with short grey hair, broad neck and a face that looked as though it hadn’t smiled in years. Slightly behind them, a younger woman, with kind brown eyes and curly brown hair, smiled sympathetically at me. Both wore sombre dark suits.

“We’ve only just heard,” Mum said as if to explain the lack of life among us.

The man stepped forwards.

“Hello, Keila. My name is Detective Davies, this is Detective Carlton; we need your help. Do you recognise this?”

He took a piece of paper from the woman then stepped forward and turned it around.

My eyes settled on the red object lying on a white background and my stomach curled into a tight ball.

In my mind I saw Jody, in the school atrium, posing and saying how much better it looked on her. My bottom lip crumpled first. My eyes and nose stung next then the tears fell.

“My jacket,” I murmured, as the picture became no more than a blur.

The TV was right, Jody wasn’t missing any more. She’d been found.