Today is the first of September, the first day of spring, and it's been sixty-four days since I last saw Sophie Abercrombie. It's been sixty-four days since anyone saw Sophie Abercrombie.
The prettiest Sophie.
The missing Sophie.
The Trio of Sophies is no more. When was the last time I had to explain about us? Perhaps to the police: 'Sophie Twiggs is Sophie T, Twiggy to her friends.' I remember telling them that she's the sporty one, a bit like Sporty Spice from a pop band my mum used to listen to when she was in high school. The female officer smiled at that. 'I'm Sophie M, Sophie MacKenzie, Mac to my friends,' I went on, but I didn't add what I always think at this point: that I'm plain-jane Sophie — not too pretty, not too sporty, but smarter than both other Sophies combined. It's true — all I care about is getting good enough marks to get into medical school, so I can study to be a forensic pathologist. That's all I've ever wanted.
The police kept asking when I last saw Sophie A, so I had to tell them what I had witnessed.
The last time I saw Sophie A, she was kissing James Bacon. She could have any guy she wanted, but she was kissing an English teacher who was eight years older than her. Was. Is. I hope it's is.
Thanks to Mr Bacon, I know the difference between past and present tense.
It's been sixty-three days since Sophie A went missing, and her picture is still all over the newspapers and on the TV. People are seeing her in all sorts of places, strolling along Piha beach or down Queen Street and even on the Gold Coast of Australia. But every time the police try to chase a lead, it comes to nothing.
I read somewhere that most crime are committed by someone the victim knows, which I guess is why the cops have been talking to Mr Bacon and Dave Williams, Sophie A's stepfather. Not to mention half of year thirteen at Eastbrook High, including yours truly.
Of course the police talked to me and Twiggy. We're Sophie A's best friends, after all. We didn't have much to say, apart from me telling them about Sophie A kissing Mr Bacon, which I offered up straight away. The kissing thing happened the day Sophie A went missing.
But who knows if Sophie going missing had anything to do with Mr Bacon. How would I know? I don't know anything. I'm just trying to keep my head down and study. This business has tossed the whole community upside down. I wish it could just return to normal. I'm going to screw up my exams at this rate, and then I'll never get into university.
I hope they find her alive, but it's not looking good.
Twiggy gave me a ride home from school today, for the first time in weeks. I was walking out of the school gates when I saw her parked outside in her orange Mini Cooper. Twiggy's parents gave it to her for her sixteenth birthday, before she'd even passed her learner's test.
I got a new pair of shoes for school for my sixteenth birthday. Twiggy doesn't know the difference between a need and a want. She doesn't have to.
Twiggy probably wouldn't have given me a lift home if she hadn't accidentally looked me in the eye. I smiled and waved. The passenger window came down, and Twiggy called out, 'Want a lift?' As always, her liquorice-black locks were tied up in a ponytail. Her mouth was smiling, but her dark irises were flat.
'That would be great. Thanks.' I shut the door and Twiggy pulled into the traffic. 'That Biology test was awful, wasn't it?'
Twiggy adjusted her rear-vision mirror. 'What's your idea of awful — ninety per cent?'
'Don't be like that.' I was twisting a chunk of hair into a side plait. I dyed it silver-blonde last summer. Goodbye, mouse. Why I didn't do that sooner, I don't know.
'Just saying.' Twiggy barely slowed as we went through a roundabout and sped up the hill. Around us, students sauntered in twos and threes in their puke-green Eastbrook uniforms, laughing and yelling at eachother. 'I'm hoping my assignment will make up for my shit test score.'
Starting on a plait on the opposite side, I said 'If you invest enough, it will.'
Twiggy stared at me for a moment before looking back at the road.
'If I invest enough. It's never enough, is it, Mac?'
'It's your future,' I murmured, just before my seatbelt snapped tight across my chest. 'Jesus!'
'Cat,' Twiggy said, and we both watched a tabby tail disappear beneath a bush. She exhaled and indicated right, driving away from the big houses with their wide driveways and SUVs, away from the beaches and the mums in their activewear pushing designer prams.
As we drove down the hill, the houses became smaller and closer together. Our bungalow is squeezed between a block of flats on one side and a sagging villa with ever-changing tenants on the other side.
Twiggy bumped into the driveway and killed the engine. 'It's been two months.'
'Two months and one day.' I reached for my bag.
'Whatever. They're not going find her alive, are they?' Twiggy's voice was wobbly. It was giving me a squeezing feeling in my chest.
'Not unless she's been abducted, no.'
'Abducted.' Twiggy's tone was almost mocking. 'You always have to use such big words, don't you?'
'Screw you.' I opened the door so I could escape, but Twiggy grabbed my wrist.
'Do you really think Mr Bacon's got something to do with this?'
And I said, 'I think he's got everything to do with this.'