Heartbroken, inconsolable, empty. Those were three emotions that had always seemed to haunt her; they lingered in the shadows and draped her in their darkness with a cruel suddenness, each time just as smothering as the last.
Lindsey had carried her to their bedroom and had lain down beside her, trying his best to comfort and be strong for her, when all he really wanted to do was break down and cry. When he felt her become limp in his arms with sleep, he slipped out of the room and made his way downstairs: he needed answers.
Swiping up the receiver, he dialled Karen’s number.
“Karen, it’s Lindsey.”
“Hey Lindsey, everything alright? How did the visit go with Brenda?”
Lindsey had to bite his lip and hold back his tears as the emotion washed over him again.
“Karen, she – Lily –”
“Lindsey what is it? You’re scaring me…”
“She’s gone, Karen!” he wailed, biting his fist in grief. “She’s gone!”
“Whoa whoa whoa, calm down. Lindsey, take a deep breath and tell me exactly what happened.”
And so he did; he relayed to her as much as he could remember from what Stevie had tried to tell him earlier. Karen had insisted on coming over right away, but Lindsey told her otherwise, knowing full-well that the last thing Stevie would want right now is people fussing over her.
“Karen, I can’t call Brenda, she doesn’t know about me yet and I need –”
“You need answers, I understand,” her voice was meaningful and Lindsey appreciated her strength. “Don’t worry, I have her number and I am going to get you some answers. I’ll call by later this evening, okay?”
“Thank you, Karen. I’ll see you later.”
Lindsey collapsed onto the couch and buried his face in his hands. How could their lives have changed so drastically in just a few hours? That morning, he had left the love of his life and his precious daughter safely in the house and when he returned, half of his heart was missing and the other half was broken.
He must have spent hours just sitting and staring off into space, for when keys began to jangle in the front door, Lindsey realised that it was almost eight o’clock in the evening and Karen made her way into the house with a bag of food.
“I figured I’d find you like this,” Karen sighed, noticing his dishevelled appearance and that no lights had been switched on in the house. “Food, you need to eat something.”
“I’m not very hungry,” he replied, his voice husky from not having spoken in hours. “Did you talk to Brenda?”
Karen took a deep breath and turned to face Lindsey.
“Her name is Louise, she’s twenty-five and she checked herself into rehab just over a month ago. When she went to the agency, they ran a DNA test and it came back as a match. Given that Brenda had not been around for the second post-placement visit yet and that there was no court date organised, there was nothing else she could have done; legally, she had no right to withhold information from Louise, and that is why what happened this morning happened…”
Lindsey’s head dropped in defeat and he shook his head sadly at the realisation of what it all meant.
“We’re not getting her back, are we?”