Chapter Sixteen

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 Dear Diary,

 As soon as I’d answered the phone I ran back into the living room my heart pounding. What did they want with me?

Leo was sat on the edge of his armchair, tapping his knees along to the song playing through the speakers. He looked up at me, saying:

‘God Ambs, you weren’t half in a rush to get to that phone! Who was it?’

‘The police,’ I said.

What?’ he replied, standing upright, his magazine falling onto the carpet.

‘What do they want with you?’

‘They want me to go to the station. Right now.’

We stood silently for a few seconds, him standing at one end of the room by the fire, me standing at the other. He didn’t need to ask how I was feeling. He just said:

‘Right, get your coat then, let’s go and sort this out.’

I went to the porch and put on my boots, zipping them up to my knee with wobbly hands. My mind was blurry, trying to figure out what might have happened. They didn’t tell me anything on the phone. Just – come down to the station. Now. I reached for my duffle coat, put it on and buttoned myself up. I could hear Leo rummaging about in the kitchen.

An image of that man, curled up at the side of the lane kept appearing in my mind. What if they think I did it? The whole pub saw him have a go at me like an hour before.

I heard his words echo in my head:

‘Ah, I remember your Mum used to sing here. Right here in this very pub. Oh yeah, I remember her.’

A shiver shot down my spine. Ew. I remembered his red, alcohol face pushing right up to mine.

Leo barged through the porch door, grabbed his coat from the hook, took me by the arm and bundled us out the back door. The sky loomed above us. Great clouds swirled in the sky, carried along by huge blasts of wind. Leo’s hair flew up and so did mine. He grabbed me around the shoulders as we stood in the backyard.

‘Let’s go and sort this out, sis. Don’t look so worried. You didn’t do anything wrong. Whatever happens, I’ll be there remember, I’ll look after you.’

He pulled me towards him for a hug. The wind spiraled around us, all my plant pots shuddering and swaying.

‘Thanks Leo,’ I said.

‘Come on, let’s go,’ he replied.

He linked arms with me and we set off down our street, towards the village center. As we flew past the houses, an image of that guy crept into my head again:

‘She used to sing here too, didn’t see? Oh yeah, she were a right cracker. I knew her very well.’

Why did he say those things? I think my Mum did used to sing at that pub. She never told us much about it but I do remember she would go off some nights and leave us with Granddad. I always knew she would be out that night because the sweet smell of her perfume filled the whole house.

Leo looked down at me as we walked along.

‘Are you all right, sis? You look pale.’

‘No, I’m fine. I just want to find out what they want with me.’

We were at the end of our street and we turned onto Ecclestone Street – the one that would eventually lead us to the station. The sound of trees swishing in the wind filled my ears. I held onto Leo and kept walking.

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