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Moss covered bridge

Echoes of absence: Finding peace in the wake of disappearance

For this edition our creative writing brief was: Write a story or a poem in a genre of your choice to go with the title “The Missing Person”. This is one of our entries from partner school Robert Smyth.

She had been drowning under the weight of her thoughts. Sometimes, she had wondered how easy it was to get lost in her musings. Other times, she hadn’t been able think at all. She had been like a ship, gliding along tranquil waters or constantly battling a raging storm. Yet, it was like she had been stuck on the latter- unable to escape the darkness that had enveloped her mind. She had become a shell of herself, and retreated to a place where no-one could reach her. Months had passed, where whole days would disappear before her eyes. Today, however, something felt different. She sat on her bed, staring at the wall, which was painted an almost ethereal shade of blue. She remembered how Abby and she had painted the wall four years ago, when she’d first moved to the bustling town of Shrewsbury, with its half-timbered buildings and cobblestone paths. Abby’s long brown hair had swung into the paint, resulting in a fit of giggles from both, softening their identical angular features.

It had been two years since her sister had disappeared, during one of the worst floods Shrewsbury had ever witnessed. The police had searched fruitlessly in every potential place for her, including the river which ran through the centre of the town. Memories of that night had fogged her brain, all piercing one after another into her heart. Of streaming tears, of the conciliatory but distant voice of a professional who had seen this many a time before. After that, the numbness had crept in, eventually shrouding her with despair. Her initial hope of someone finding Abby flickered and died, like the flame of a candle. Her dreams had been plagued by the recurring thought that Abby was in pain. These dreams – which had always ended with Abby’s face, contorted in agony, her crumpled body slowly disintegrating – had often screamed her awake, heart pounding, and she had shot upright in bed, unable to shake the horrifying imagery. But not last night. She let her eyes slide from the wall and padded downstairs, wrapping her dressing gown tightly around her to protect herself from the early morning chill. She slipped into her favourite lace-up boots and a black parka, before opening the front door. She inhaled the crisp air, savouring the stillness of the sunrise. Lately, this had become her custom, to head out early, to try and quiet her thoughts without the chance of running into anyone she knew. She had established a route out of town which fulfilled this purpose. Setting off at a brisk pace, she made her way to the moss-covered stone bridge, which ran over a chalk stream. She looked up at the streaked sky, marvelling at the soft hues and wispy clouds above. She grew keenly aware of birds chirping around her, whistling cheery tunes signifying the start of the day. As she drew nearer, she could hear the gentle plishing of the water, which somehow seemed to provide a sense of calm. She reached the ancient structure, idly looking down into the crystal depths – and drew in a sharp breath.

A reflection stared back at her, with familiar sharp features and long brown hair. The face smiled, eyes twinkling. She had been deluged by grief, yet now a sense of peace swept over her, like the lapping of waves.

She had resurfaced.

Please note: All articles written by young people are fictional in nature and nothing is to be taken as fact.
By Lily Stead-Burdett, year 10, Robert Smyth
Photo credit: Tom Davies via Pexels

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