As her breathing calmed, Ella let the brown paper bag fall from her lips to the floor. Being in this room wasn’t getting any easier which made her cross with Mrs. Sheldon, her neighbour, who was constantly saying something about time and healing. People had lots of things to say but nothing real to offer, just sayings that automatically popped out of their mouths, Ella thought. The scene had been like one from a film. One of the nasty ones rated 18 that she wasn’t yet old enough to see. But this one she had seen.
The room was quite different now. The sofa had gone, taken as evidence and now replaced with a pristine dark brown model. Ella recoiled and clutched her stomach, a crashing wave of nausea rising in her throat. She trailed her eyes to her school photograph, the one taken before it had all happened, in an attempt to forget the horror. She looked happy there, there was no fear or trauma, just a pretty girl with long blonde hair, parted in the middle, blue eyes and dimples. She'd applied a little mascara and lip gloss because she was 13 and that’s what all the other girls had done. Beyond the photo Ella caught her reflection in the large oval mirror on the wall. Her hair was shorter these days as she’d taken the scissors to it a week earlier and hacked it off in uneven, clumsy handfuls. Her eyes didn’t seem as blue either and you couldn’t see her dimples; they only appeared when she smiled; which was rare now.
Her thoughts dragged her eyes back to the sofa. I should have moved the furniture around; she cursed silently, and thought that might have helped? It stood in the exact place as the old one that had been cream until soaked with deep red blood. She began to wheeze and picked the paper bag up, taking a few short, sharp breaths and eventually relaxing her hold until she felt okay again.
The carpet had been pulled up and taken away, that had been soaked in blood too. At least they had a hard floor instead now, her feet made a different sound so she didn’t have an immediate flashback from that. Everything else was the same, except her duvet. He’d gone up to her bedroom, taken it and covered the body with it. She never saw her pink polka dot cover again after finding her Mum, wrapped inside it, naked, dead and mutilated. They’d taken that too. More evidence. DNA.
Four months isn’t a long time for a girl to accept the scene she had come home from school to find that day. It was the most hideous sight in the world. Now she doesn’t remember her Mum, blonde, smiling and pretty. She only remembers which body parts were missing, that he had cut her Mum’s face. And that he was still out there somewhere. She grasped the paper bag and breathed sharply into it.