"You're lying! You're lying! You're lying!" I screamed at the top of my voice.
"Mia, please calm down, we're not lying." Ben tried to hold me.
I pushed him off, i threw the pillows off the sofa, scattering feathers everywhere, I screamed and screamed as I broke things all over the living room until I finally fell to the ground, motionless, speechless. "No." I cried, holding my chest close to my knees.
Mum stayed how she was before I entered the room, she hadn't even blinked as I'd destroyed the room. Ben watched helplessly as I sat on the floor, none of us knew that to do. How could we?
"The police are coming to get Mum and I tomorrow, to go identify the body..."
They had to identify the body, maybe it wasn't her! "So, it might not be her body?"
"Mia the chances of it being Grace are very high. She is the only little girl in this area to go missing in years."
My heart sank again, I had literally lost all faith in man kind that day. Eventually I picked myself up and headed up to my room, I dragged my tired body up the stairs and into my room. As I looked around everything was still the same, how could it still be the same when my whole life was now so different. My mind raced, all I could think about was Grace, dead. It had been 11 days since she went missing and suddenly it was all over. The search for Grace would stop, everyone over the world would know every detail of my little sisters death, the posters would be taken down, the world would stop for a second, of course my world stopped long ago. I lay on my floor, staring out my window, wondering about that little girl in the morgue tonight, our Gracie, in their. I wondered what she would be dressed in, if she was dressed at all. What her hair would be like. Would the sparkle in her eye of died with her? The more I thought about it the more I cried.
The house went silent after midnight, no sound at all, only the faint sound of Ben snoring from downstairs. He was asleep on the couch as mum had refused to move all night. As the night drew into morning everyone tried to be prepared for when the police came to collect mum and Ben, yet all of us seemed shocked to hear the doorbell at 9am.
"Look after Emily okay Mia, you have our numbers if you need us. Stay safe." Ben said handing me Emily and leading mum out the front door.
I couldn't think of anything to say to them, no words had left my lips since last night, I felt the longer I stayed silent, the more it wasn't real.
"Peek a boo!" Emily giggled putting her hands over her face.
I half smiled back, putting her on a chair in the kitchen and chopping up and banana for her. I handed her the food and watched as she examined it, deciding what bits to eat first. I envied her, the hardest thing in her life was deciding what bit of banana to eat first. After breakfast I dressed her, feeding her delicate arms through her dress, she was so tiny, so little, how could anyone hurt a child? I brushed her blonde curls into two ponytails on the top of her head. The whole morning I didn't speak to her, i barely even looked at her. She reminded me too much of Gracie, she had her smile. I left her to play with her toys in her play pen as I had a bath. The hot water hit my face making me gasp loudly, i pushed my heavy body under the water, holding my breath, opening my eyes and seeing the water above me, I wanted to die, i knew i did, how could i live? I felt myself loose breath, i held myself under even though i was begging myself to get some breath. As i felt my breathing slow down, i was suddenly disturbed by a loud scream from downstairs. I ran down with a towel wrapped around my wet body, I rushed towards the living room and saw Emily sat in her playpen, her knee was scraped. I picked her up and cuddled her tight.
"You don't realise this, but you just saved my life."
She really had, I held her little body in my arms, she was my only reason to live, she had already lost one sister, she couldn't loose another. I put a plaster on her knee and turned the tv on, the midday news was on.
"Last evening an elderly couple found a gruesome grave while walking their dog over the lakeside park. They found a young child's battered body in a shallow grave. Police are identifying the child's body as we speak." The presenter said.
That was how Gracie was found, by some old people and their dog! I know they can't say whose the body is yet, but it was obvious it was Gracie's. How could someone leave her like that. How could anyone leave her there. My stomach turned at the thought, her lifeless body lying dead on the cold ground. I tried to convince myself it wasn't her, that she wasn't dead, that they had it all wrong and it was some other family who would have to go through the heartache of loosing a child, that it wouldn't, it couldn't be our family. But of course, i was wrong. As the news ended, Mum and Ben entered the house. Mum's face was as white as a ghost, her eyes raw red, her lips dry. Ben looked slightly the same, but for everyones sake he tried to be the strong one.
"Mia take Emily upstairs, put her in her play pen up there then come back down here please." Ben said calmly moving mum onto the sofa.
I did as he said, rushing upstairs, with Emily giggling in my arms. She was so naive to this world, if only everyone could see through her tiny eyes. Once I left her i closed her door slightly so if we argued she didn't hear it. I ran down the stairs and hit the last one loudly, i stopped, did I really want to go in there and hear what he had to say, it could either go one way or another, and I did not want to hear the bad one. I took a deep breath and opened the living room door.
"Hi..." I mumbled.
"My baby." Mum cried loudly.
She ran to me and held me tight, crying deeply on my shoulder. "My baby, my baby's gone, she's gone Mi-Mi."
I pushed her off me. "No. NO! You're lying. Stop it! She's not, she's..." My voice trailed off, I couldn't bring myself to say the word dead.
"She's dead." Mum shouted. "Dead. My little girl is dead." She pulled at her hair, screaming louder. Ben stood back and watched helplessly.
"Are you sure?" I said to Ben, tears streaming down my pink cheeks.
"We saw her, we identified her body. It's her Mia." Ben sighed, sitting down.
"Please tell me this is some sick joke. She can't be dead! Not my little sister."
"I'm sorry Mia." Ben said, tears brimming his eyes.
"She was gunna grow up and make an animal centre for helpless animals, she was gunna enter Miss England. She was gunna grow up. She has to grow up!" I screeched.
Mum grabbed me and we both cried hard into each other, everything rushed through my mind; I would never be able to see her smile again, the smile that always made me happy. I would forget how she smelled and felt. I would never get to hear her voice. I would never get to see her grow up. Everyone said the memories eased the pain inside, they lied. The memories hurt more and more. Remembered how she was, realising what she will never be.
"They are doing an autopsy on her tomorrow and if all goes well the body will be released to us shortly after for burial." Ben said, holding his head.
"Their cutting her up! They can't! She's too little! They'll break her!"
"Mia calm down, they have to, by law."
"I know Mi-Mi. Why can't they just leave my baby to rest." Mum sobbed.
"Cindy we've discussed this, its for legal reason's."
"For fucks sake I know that. But don't you care that they are cutting up my little girl?"
"Our little girl."
Mum shunned him away, crying into her hands.
"Can I go see her?" The thought of seeing my baby sister dead was one thing, but cut up was another, yet I had to see her, I had to talk to her, tell her it's okay. Even though it wasn't.
"Are you really sure you want to?"
"Yes. I have to see her."
Right, I'll drive you up now before they do the autopsy." Ben said, getting up. "Cindy you'll be okay here with Emily?"
Mum nodded. She hugged me one last time. "Good luck." She whispered, wiping her tears from her eyes and cheeks.
The drive was awkward and silent, every song on the radio seemed to be depressing us even more. When we got there it was almost empty, I was glad about that, it meant I could see Grace virtually on my own. As we sat in the waiting room my heart pounded in my chest, I felt like i was going to throw up every second. I watched as families came out of the morgue, each crying for their loved one. It almost comforted me knowing others were going through the same pain we were. All to soon we were allowed to go see her.
"Ben, please let me see her on my own, she's my sister." I urged before we got to the door.
"Are you sure Mia?"
"I couldn't be more sure." I said slowly opening the door.
The smell of air fresheners hit me as soon as I walked in. I followed the floor over to where she was. Her fragile body was lying softly on a silver table. I burst into tears instantly. From head to toe she was battered and bruised. Her brown hair was matted and messy. Her eyes were red from crying. Her lips slightly ajar, showing her white teeth. Her body was dirty, her pjs had been ripped and her pj bottoms were soaked in blood. I felt sick in my mouth as i saw the blood on her trousers. What sick person had done this to my sister. I finished by looking at her feet, her bare feet had cuts on the bottom of them. She didn't even look like my little sister. She was so fragile, and she looked as if she had been thrown around and beaten like a doll. I looked her up and down again, her smile was eternally ended. I would never see her pink lips in a smile again. Her green eyes would never sparkle. I wanted to reach out and hold her hand, I longed to tell her it was okay and that the pain was over for her. But I knew couldn't touch her, I couldn't bring myself to. She was too broken.
"Who did this to you Gracie? Give me a sign, anything! Please give me hope that there is a way, anything, a sign to tell me you're okay. I love you Gracie. I know i didn't show it half the time but i do. I was always so proud of you. I'm going to get you justice, you deserve it. Sleep tight princess." I blew a kiss and started to leave the room.
Ben met me on the other side of the door. "You okay?"
"I am now." I lied. The whole car ride home i tried not to be sick, the image of the blood on her pjs wouldn't leave my head. I felt sick, how could anyone do that to a child, a little girl, so defenseless. No one was there to help her, no one heard her screams. Not even us.
Once we were home, mum had calmed down slightly. Although she was still crying, it was only soft tears. She was cuddling Emily in her bedroom. "Smile Mumma!" Emily said, trying to wipe her tears.
"Hi Mia. You okay?"
It was a stupid question yet i still nodded. "What's for dinner?"
"I haven't even thought of that yet, sorry."
It was 5pm and I was starving, yet part of me didn't want to eat. Everytime I thought of anything my mind instantly went back to Grace's tiny body. I watched every news segment about Grace online that I could find, and when I had watched all of those I started on the youtube videos. Watching, crying, wishing I could turn back time. As I watched the 6 o clock news I wished for their not to be anything about Gracie, so that maybe it would all just be a dream.
"The body of Grace Love has been found and identified. Police cannot say how the child died, but will find out more in the near future. Our love go out to the family and friend's of Grace. May she rest in pieces and my her killer be found immediately."
I sighed turning the tv down. Of course it was real, all of this wasn't a dream, it was a horrible nightmare that we would never wake from.
I could smell dinner as mum was cooking it, she was doing her favorite, thai chicken noodles. I dragged myself downstairs, and sat at the table. Emily was playing with her food, but apart from that we all sat in silence. I pushed my food around my plate yet again, making it look as if i had eaten something.
"I'm going to go back to work tomorrow." Ben announced, he was a doctor. Thats how he met my mum, he was my doctor when i broke my arm and they fell in love. Mum called my broken arm, the arm of fate. Of course I didn't think it was as funny as she did. I hated the fact I had brought her to him. She was no longer just my mum.
Everyone remained silent after Ben had spoke.
"Can I leave the dinner table?" I said breaking the silence.
"One mouthful and then you may go." Mum said sternly looking over at my plate.
I spooned the smallest mouthful into my mouth and put the rest into the bin. I ran straight into my en-suite, i pushed my fingers hard down my throat and gagged hard. Making me cough and splutter all over my toilet. I tried again one more time and threw up. I flushed the toilet and wiped my mouth, somehow i felt better from doing that.
I tried so hard to tell myself that Grace was gone, but somehow it felt as if she was still with me. I felt so alone, like no one else in the world knew what I was going through, even though Mum and Ben were going through the exact same thing as I was. From where I used to envy Emily I now pitied her, she wouldn't remember this, yet that meant she wouldn't remember Grace. All she would have were home videos and pictures. Her memories would fade as she grew.
Once mum had put Emily to bed she walked past Grace's open door and shut it, almost as if she was shutting away the memories, the hurt and the pain. Everything. She wandered past my room and caught my eye. She opened my door more and stood in the doorway.
"Would you like some pudding? Or a hot chocolate? Anything?"
"No mum, i'm okay." I said, my tummy rumbling right on que.
"Mia I can hear your tummy from over here. I'll go make you a hot chocolate and get some biscuits." She said rushing off downstairs before I could stop her. Minutes later she walked carefully into my room, placing a tray down on my bed next to me, with a hot chocolate, biscuits and a chocolate bar on it.
"Can't have my big girl going hungry can we?" She giggled awkwardly.
"My big girl." She smiled, leaving the room.
Since this morning she had become a totally different person, she had gone from crying constantly to over smiley, she was smothering Emily and I. Once she had gone downstairs i poured the drink away and hung half way out my window and threw the biscuits and chocolate onto the roof.
"What are you doing?" Ben said looking at me puzzled.
I pulled myself in from the window. "I thought Socks was on the roof." I lied.
She's in her bed, want me to go get her for you?"
"No, i'm fine."
"Alright then, goodnight." He said shutting my door behind him.
I sighed loudly, that was too close. It wasn't that I didn't want to eat, it was that I physically couldn't. Everything reminded me of Gracie, her little broken body on that cold table. Her presence still lingered in this house, the wounds would never heal, the pain would never leave. Time cannot heal this. Nothing could.
After a restless night, I was awoken by my alarm. Ben was already at work when I got up for breakfast. I sat in the kitchen and buttered one piece of bread.
"I'm going to eat in my room..." I said trying to leave the room.
"No, you're eating in here with us." Mum said, her eyes were swollen from crying. She placed down Emily's breakfast and sat down with a coffee. "Sit Mia."
I did as she said and forced the toast into my mouth, i chewed slowly and finally swallowed. I repeated this a few more times until the toast was gone. "Happy?"
"Yes, you may leave the table now."
I ran into my room and pinned my hair back, i sat over the toilet, closed my eyes and pushed my fingers hard down my throat. My throat was still raw from last night, as I was sick it burned harder than before, making my eyes brim with tears. Once I had left my bathroom, mum walked into my room, staring at my eyes.
"Maybe you shouldn't go to see Ashlynn today Mia..."
"No mum, i'm fine." She thought i was crying, i wasn't. Only on the inside. I pushed past her with my bag on my shoulder and rushed to the front door. Ashlynn greeted me as i walked up my garden path.
"Hey Mia!" She hugged me.
I brushed her off, shocked by her sudden affection. "Hey."
"I'm so sorry. Seriously, I can't believe it myself, I cried when I saw the news last night."
i had forgot to watch the ten o clock news. "Oh."
"I know you probably don't want to talk about it, but i can't believe they discussed that on tv. I mean it was awful."
"I mean, they described her death."
"What?" I stopped in my tracks. "They did?"
"You didn't watch it?"
"I'm so sorry, i thought you knew, well they just guessed anyway."
"It's probably bullshit. Can we stop talking about this now. I came over to see you, not to talk about Grace." I felt tears hit my cheeks.
She hugged me again. "Oh Mia. I'm sorry. I still can't believe it. I'm such an awful friend. I just don't know what to say. I'm sorry."
I hugged her back tightly. "It's okay, you're not an awful friend, you're the best friend ever. You're amazing Ashlynn."
The rest of the day we both tried to act as normal as possible. We did the usual things, we did make overs, we sung on karaoke and we made a cake. The whole day I just thought of all the times Ashlynn had been over mine and we had shunned away Grace from playing with us. I would of done anything in this world to play with Grace one more time. She was such a confident little girl, whenever i played with her, she would always prance around the room, dancing and singing as if she was in front of an audience of millions. She was so talented. Everyone always said she would make something of herself when she was older. Everyone was wrong, she was never ever going to get older. She was always going to be my little eight year old sister, stuck in time, forever eight.