Image: “Gorgeous autochrome girl in bonnet, with dog” by whatsthatpicture. Source
Author: Leah Didisheim
[Content Warning: Missing person, Death]
“Has she come home yet? … No? … Where is she? … What do you mean you don’t know? How can you not know? … I swear sometimes you’re as useless as Myriam. … Well of course you should know! Do you even care that she’s gone? … Are you even searching for her, poor soul? For all we know, she could be in severe danger. Breaks my heart to think of her smile. She did have a beautiful smile, didn’t she? … What do you mean you haven’t thought of her smile? … Why aren’t you more stressed out? … I know it’s not the first time … But I’m telling you I can feel something is different this time around … Yeah, well, I’ll be sorry when you’ll prove me wrong! … Oh, but how I miss her … What do you mean I’m speaking as if she’s dead already? What else am I supposed to do? … Well believe what you will. I’ll keep on searching. I won’t stop worrying until she’s home. … Poor Lula… alone in the cold. … No she’s not just another teenager crossing her parents. That’s just not her. … Well, I’ve never known her like that… and God, Frank, even if she was, she’s just fourteen… Are we not supposed to love our children unconditionally? … Yeah, yeah, you say that, but where’s your love when it requires you to take action huh? … Look, I have to go. I can’t have the same argument again. Just please do something. … Yeah, I know you’re worried. You know how I get sometimes. I’ll call you tomorrow, ok? Or sooner if I hear anything.”
She touched her cheeks, surprised to find them wet with tears. She hadn’t realised she had been crying. It must have been the tenth time she was listening to this conversation she had had with her brother on the phone. Yes, she had been the one laying her worries on the table. And yet she had never really trusted her own words. She had always thought Lula would call her, reassure her. Oh, how she could almost hear the tiny voice say “don’t worry, mummy, I’m safe. I’ll be home soon. Love you.” Maybe, in retrospect, Frank was the one being more realistic. It wasn’t that he was not worried, but maybe more that he had accepted the wicked truth. She hadn’t of course. Maybe she still didn’t. The proof was right there; she was still listening to this old phone conversation, always resenting herself for the way she had talked to her brother that day. But that conversation wasn’t going to change anything. She knew that. Of course, she knew that. And yet, today was no exception. She had listened to the recording of that phone call again with the strong intention of it being the last time. She was going to delete it. She really was. But of course, this time again, she had locked her phone, the recording still there safe and sound. “Next time”, she thought. But of course, we all knew she wouldn’t. It had been three years already. And she was not any closer to deleting that phone call from her phone than she was to letting go of Lula’s memory.