Mother's Little Helper
Ayesha was probably dead. Sam didn't like to think of his sister glass-eyed, lying broken in some ditch. It had rained ever since she'd gone, rained ‘like a monsoon', their neighbour said. Sam's mum rolled her eyes: ‘Don't listen to him,' she said, ‘it's jus' pissin' down'. Sam was only 10 but he knew evidence would wash away in the rain. It was washing Ayesha clean. The noisy spoilt little brat who'd always got him in trouble. Sam stared through the grimy window into the Indian-ink black night and shook his head. The fingertip search would start at first light and they wouldn't find a thing.
Mr Miller had bad breath. He came round all the time to babysit. He patted Sam's head and gave him lots of money for stickers. Mr Miller picked up Ayesha with his pale lanky arms and twisted her round and round in the air, then kept her dizzy on his lap. He took ages tucking Ayesha in at night. Mum didn't notice, she was too busy touching up her roots and hiding imaginary wrinkles. She didn't care who babysat, even that lanky old git, as long as she was free to drink her weight in vodka and hit the clubs.
Sam didn't like to think Mr Miller was a bad man – but he guessed he was. They said Ayesha had gone off in a black car. Mr Miller had a black car. They said Mr Miller lived alone but Sam saw lights on in three upstairs rooms for a few days. But now there was only darkness. And Sam knew there'd be no more money for stickers.
20 December 2013