Jordan Phair (Griffith University, Australia)
Today I met the strangest fellow. He started in my grade at school. I don’t know what it is about him that makes me curious. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like he isn’t attractive. He has almost black hair and light blue eyes, complete with a bad boy persona. With his dark blue Armani jeans and plain black polo shirt, the picture is perfect. Ahh, sigh.
Gemma, the stupid little bitch, sat next to him every chance she got. From Gemma’s interrogations I learnt that he’s 18, from Sydney, can’t surf but loves to read, and owns a dog. Not like anyone would believe me other than you, but this guy is, like, freaking amazing! He has to be, without a doubt, my dream man: from Sydney, loves reading and playing with his dog! My life is complete! Almost.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not delusional enough to think for one second that he would even consider talking to me, let alone going out with me, and yet a girl can dream. So, Miss Diary, you and I shall plan (hypothetically of course) how to get me my man. Even if I have to pry him out of Gemma’s cold, spindly, freshly-manicured talons.
Maybe I could try push Gemma out of the way (or possibly off the roof—haha) and talk to him. Yeah, doesn’t sound too hard … right? Yeah, might as well shove her off a high-rise building while I’m at it, that’s how likely to work that plan is. Maybe I should try to—
Now I lost my train of thought, stupid doorbell—of all the afternoons for Mum to have to work late. Ok, so getting me with Hot Boy Plan A! Maybe, instead of chucking Gemma off a building, I could, what? Asking him what else he likes would involve plan A working … Maybe I could jam a note in his locker? Ugh! How old am I, 12?! Just grow up. Get him away from Gemma and the rest will be—
Damn door! The next person who rings the bell, then runs, I swear to God, I’ll shove the doorbell where the sun doesn’t shine. So, plan Get-Hot-Boy-To-Talk-To-Me.
Step1: … Ask his name? Probably a good start. “Hi, we have math together, I think. I’m Gwen, and you are …?” Yep. That’ll have him drooling over me quicker than you could butter your toast. Why don’t I just kneel down in front of him and kiss his—
I locked the front door, just like Mum always makes me promise to. I swear I did … and the windows. There’s no way someone could break into the house without me knowing. But there are footsteps, quiet and deliberate, heading straight for me. He’s walking past the kitchen and down the hall towards the stairs—how did he miss the creaky floorboard right in the middle of the hallway? Even when you know it’s there, you can’t miss it!
If this is it, I want someone to find this and read what happened. Just know that I will fight like hell if I need to. Also, ignore my hot boy plans—please and thank you.
The footsteps are at the base of the staircase. They faltered a second ago, as if undecided. Or maybe he tripped—too much to hope for? He’s heading up the stairs, very slowly, only the slight creaking of the floorboards giving him away. My room is the second door on the left and I’m hiding beside the bed.
The first door on the right opens with the creak of many years’ hard abuse and those tell-tale footsteps pace the perimeter of my brother’s room. The second door opens, and the same thing happens. On the other side of the hall, he opens the door next to my room but doesn’t even bother to look around. He just walks in and sits on the bed by the sounds of it.
I’m going to stop writing now in case the sound of my pen gives me away.
I love you Mum, Dad and my dorky little brother. You picked the right night to stay out late. I did what I could—”
“That’s where it ends,” Sargent Grey tells the gathering crowd of police officers. “It’s just smeared with blood after that.”
Well isn’t that delightful I stop myself from saying aloud. Story time at a crime scene. Yep, that’s exactly what I thought I’d be doing today when I rolled out of bed.
“What else can you tell the adoring crowd, Sargent?” I inquire. In my mind, that line was hilarious, and I struggled not to laugh as I said it. But the others in the gathered crowd don’t think as highly of my wit.
“Detective, nice of you to join us. Good to see that we’re worth dragging yourself out of bed at this time of the morning.”
He’s having a dig at me—it’s 7pm. “Actually, now that you mention it, I realise that you, Detective Steel, are the sole reason I can pull myself out of hibernation every morning. Seeing your handsome face is all I can think about at times like this,” I retort, offering him the fakest smile I can manage.
“Um, guys? Might wanna have a look at this …,” one of the newbies says from the adjoining room.
Like good little school children, the bickering ensemble follow close on my tail as I stride to the next bedroom. When I get to the doorway, nothing seems out of place; it’s just an ordinary spare bedroom. Raising my eyebrow in a silent question, I give the room a closer inspection. They are only subtle hints at first, but the more I look at the room, the more they seem to scream at me. Moved furniture, strange scents, crimpled sheets; all testaments to the fact that something happened.
“What did you find?”
“Over here, Detective,” the young constable says. As a whole, we move to the other side of the bedroom.
“‘When you reach the other side, you will fall on stranger tides. To find that you crave, one of you must first be brave.’ It’s written in blood,” one of the mob points out.
“Yes, thank you. Because as a detective, I can neither read nor distinguish blood. Idiot. The question is why. What did the diary say about the perp being in this room, Steel?”
“‘On the other side of the hall, he opens the door next to my room but doesn’t even bother to look around. He just walks in and sits on the bed to contemplate the universe by the sounds of it.’ Don’t you find this all a bit strange? No sign of a struggle but they’ve taken the time to write in blood? It’s almost like she’s been taken by someone who doesn’t want to hurt her, but also knows that she’ll never be found—and the phrase … who talks like that anymore? It’s like it’s from a different time. What are you thinking, Tort?”
“No Steel: just a pervert with a history fetish.”
Since the man took me, he’s brought me all sorts of new things. Like the book I’m writing in now, and this strange looking pen. I still don’t understand why he kidnapped me if he didn’t want to hurt or kill me. Whenever I ask, he just says something about giving me a new life, whatever that means. Either way, I’m in my own room (which is massive by the way), with a queen bed, a big wardrobe, and everything a girl could ever want. I mean sure, he keeps me locked in this room, but he brings me meals and sends me tutors, so it’s not that bad.
Everything feels different in a sense. It’s not just the fact that someone kidnapped me only to put me here in this room, but even the little things seem weird. Like the clothes. All the stuff in my new wardrobe is floor length dresses, with long sleeves and embroidery. And corsets—I feel as though I should mention those because I swear they were designed in the deepest pits of hell. The tutors that the man sends wear the same sort of clothes as me, only plainer and with duller colours. And the maids have to wear long, white hanky-looking things over their hair with those dorky headband things that I’ve seen on television. The shoes look like those little boot things that all the Dutch people apparently wear, only these must be much less comfortable! Why would people wear these stupid things when they can just go out and buy a decent pair of Nikes?
Even the food here is weird. It’s all very old school, I guess. No cutlery, chunks of bread rather than slices or rolls, and it’s pretty much all stew-like stuff. It tastes good, but it’s a bitch to eat with no cutlery!
Another thing I’ve noticed is the floor and other features around the room. The floor is just big rocks and mortar. That’s it. No tiles or carpet or anything, just big, uneven rocks with the occasional fur rug. There’s also a massive fireplace in the middle of one of the walls. I’ve never seen anything like it! But then, I guess this room is almost bigger than my whole house put together. I like sitting in front of the fire on the big comfy chair—it’s so peaceful.
I don’t know why I’m describing this room. Maybe if I write it down, it’ll seem less like a dream, or some fairy tale I picture in my mind before I go to bed at night. If it was a fairy tale though, I do wish that boy from school the other day would appear. Oh well, guess you can’t have everything—
The man just came to see me, and he told me that I’m to marry his son: King Edward. So, on the bright side, it sounds like I’m going to be a queen … go figure. It gets better though. I asked him about the clothes and shoes and stuff, and he reckons it’s the height of fashion. I had to try not to laugh at that one; the poor old man looks like he’s straight out of the fourteenth century.
Jordan Phair has been immersed in the Creative Industries since she began dancing at the age of 4 with Kick Performing Arts in Brisbane. She is currently completing her MA in Linguistics at Griffith University. This is her first publication.