In the morning, she went in to check on her son as usual. She knocked gently and pushed the door open. The morning light was obscured by the half-drawn blind. She stood for a moment, looking around the boy’s room in the dimness. She pulled on the blind and sunlight engulfed the room. She looked over to the bed, but he was not there. He couldn’t be up already or she would have heard him. She called his name as she opened the wardrobe and looked under the bed, but she could not find him. She searched the house, and he was not there either.
He must have gone out early, she told herself, but when she cast her eyes over to the front door, she saw the security chain was fastened, which was only possible from the inside. She sat on the couch and gathered her dressing gown around her as a coldness descended over her. She pulled it tighter, but continued shivering. This was not like him. It just wasn’t right. She looked at the clock and realised she was late. She dressed herself and drank a glass of milk and left for work. He would be home tonight. She knew it. But he wasn’t. She opened the front door and called his name.
She listened to the silence of the house and quickly checked his room again. Nothing had changed. She rang his school, but he had not been there, either. She felt like she was going to be sick. Her hands were shaking when she picked up the phone to call the police. She told the operator what had happened and sat on the couch biting her nails as she waited for them to come. She cast her mind back to the holiday the two of them had last year. She remembered how he had played in the beach sand with the little kids and how he seemed so concerned about the homeless people.
She was interrupted by a solid knock on the door. The two policemen seemed sincere enough, but she knew they didn’t care. How could they? They had never met him, could not understand her loss. It wasn’t like he had been abducted; perhaps that would have been better, at least she would know what had happened. But she didn’t. He was gone. She couldn’t tell them when, where or how. The policemen said he had probably just run away and that he would be home soon. She nodded, and tried to pretend she believed them. The trouble started when they asked for a photo, “so we know who we’re looking for” they said.
She readily agreed. There were literally hundreds of photos of him in the album. They sat there and watched as she flicked through the album, page by page, staring at the blank pages where the photos were. She quietly closed the back cover and looked up. They were staring at her. She tried to explain that the photos were in the album, but as she started she saw they way they looked at her. They thought she was mad. But she wasn’t. She knew she wasn’t making it up. But the policemen didn’t believer her; they didn’t even bother pretending to care anymore.
When they had left, she searched the house for something she could show them, to prove that her son had really existed. It was as much for her as it was for them. She had started thinking she was mad herself. Maybe she had just made it all up. She looked slowly all over the house in her fruitless search, looking for just one small detail to prove he had existed. But she found nothing. Everything had gone; his birth certificate, passport, school reportsâ€¦ everything. As she entered his room again, she tried to see him in her mind again. But her memory was fading.
She couldn’t see his face anymore and all the lines that were once sharp were blurred. She asked herself if he had ever existed, because the only proof that he had ever lived was slowly disappearing. She clung to the memory, but she knew that she would eventually loose it, as she lost her son. There was a sudden knock on the door that blew the silence out of her ears. She knew it wouldn’t be him, but she eagerly opened the door anyway. It was Valerie, her neighbour. She had seen the police and wanted to check that everything was alright. She told Valerie who was shocked by the news. “I saw him just a week ago.
He was fine. He came over to help with my gardening. He seemed like he didn’t have a care in the world. Ran away? Ha! He’ll come home, love. ” Valerie offered to cook her dinner, but she didn’t feel like eating. Her stomach was churning, but she couldn’t think about eating. All she could think about was her boy. Valerie knew he had existed, but she was not material proof like the police needed. They both knew he had lived, both seen him, spoken to him. But he was never coming back. As far as the police were concerned, he had never existed. She wondered how long it would take for her to believe it too.