Pink dress. Brown hair. Twinkling green eyes. Big smile. Missing front teeth. Plaster on her elbow.
That’s how they remember her. She stays frozen in their minds. Never growing up. Forever trapped as a five year old.
As the years passed, she was at the back of their every single thought during Christmases, arguments, birthdays or other joyous celebrations, ‘Where is she?’ ‘What are they doing to her?’ ‘Is she in pain?’ ‘Does she remember us?’ ‘Is she still alive?’
The day they received a call that she was found on the side of a motorway was like taking their first breath of fresh air in a decade. They were finally going to have their little girl back. On the day of her anticipated arrival, her old room was scrubbed from top to bottom with her favourite stuff animal perched in the middle of the three-foot bed, and there was a pot boiling in the kitchen of her favourite food, Spaghetti O’s.
They were standing near the front door when they heard a loud knock. The door swung open to reveal a kind-faced policeman, and next to him was a young woman. One they did not recognise.
She was dressed in a tattered grey tracksuit. She had bald patches across the crown of her head, and what they could make of brown hair was cut so short and uneven. A scar ran from her temple down to her jawline. And they could make out dark purple bruises on her neck. But it was her eyes…her dull yet cold green eyes which sent a shiver down their spines.
They got their wish that their little girl would find her way back home. But it didn’t occur to them that she would return as someone else.
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