Still Here

I was still in my underwear when I heard the door to the apartment open. "I hope it's not Robert - that would be awkward!" I peeked my head around the corner - towards the hallway. I let out a sigh, it was just my mother.

"Hi mom" Why are you home early already? I was just getting ready for school..." My voice drifted off as I saw the expression on her face. It was set in a weird way, as if she was determined not to show what she was really thinking. It made me feel very uncomfortable.

"Sit down honey." This plea further unnerved me. I couldn't remember her ever asking me to sit down like that before. Though I imagine she did when she told me about dad's and hers divorce. I can't remember.

I instantly started going through scenarios in my head. My first thought was "please let it not be Bart!" quickly followed by "...or John, or Chris, or..." While my head was counting all of my siblings - both biological and not - my mother had taken a seat in the large armchair I had sunken into. She put an arm around me as she said the words:

"It's Amelie." For a second I held on to the hope that the next words would be "she's really sick again." For just a second, I hoped - even begged - it would be so. "She's dead. She killed herself."

My world stopped. Everything froze, I froze. Then my body seemed to catch on and I found myself crying, sobbing into my mother's jacket. I couldn't stop. I couldn't think. I gasped for air, tried to speak and failed. My mother moved me to the living room couch. I crawled up and continued to cry. It seemed to be all I could do. I heard my mother talking on the phone. Robert. I realised she shouldn't have to take care of me right now. She should concentrate on Robert. He was on his way home, that much I understood from the part of the conversation I heard. I also picked up on how close he was to break down completely.

I rose, went into my room and pulled on the first clothes I found. Then I went into the hallway and started putting on my shoes. My mother came running, asking me where I was going. I tried to tell her that I needed a walk and that she shouldn't worry. Though it was hard to get the message through - though the tears and lack of air thereof - I could hardly speak. Finally, I got my coat on and left.

As soon as I was outside I started calling Lois. She didn't pick up. I texted her to pick up - that it was important. Her reply asked me why - I couldn't write it in a text. It felt wrong, crude. Instead I pleaded with her to call me as soon as she could. Then I waited. I walked towards Hornstull. It took all of my strength not to just lie down on the street and never get up. I could still hardly breathe because of the violent sobbing and I was hugging my stomach - simply to have something to hold on to.

Finally Lois texted me - asking me to call her. I dialled her number and hit the call-button.

"Hellu hellu!" She greeted me in a chippery voice. I opened my mouth to speak - but couldn't do anything but cry. "Hello? Are you there? What's happening?!" Her tone changed dramatically, now she instead sounded concerned and confused. I managed to get out one word: "Amelie."

"What? Honey I can't hear you! Speak up." I stopped walking. Took some deep ragged breaths before continuing.

"Amelie, you know Robert's daughter..."

"Yes I know." The concern in her voice told me that she could probably guess the next part. Still, I had to say it.

"She's dead. She killed herself. And I just really need you now. So if you could skip school...please..."

"Of course! Where are you? I'll be right there." I don't think I've ever felt as grateful for having Lois ever before during out very long friendship. I told her where I was heading and we decided to meet there

That day I realised how well she knows me. She let me cry. She fed me. She babbled on about irrelevant things when I wanted her to. She was quiet when I needed her to be. We walked around in the grey cold late autumn of Stockholm.

It still feels as if Amelie is simply missing. She's hid herself from us and won't come out until we've all found out what was done to her. The physical assaults, the bullying and the alienation. I keep thinking that when we've all talked about this, what happened to her, and brought the people responsible to justice, then she'll come back. She'll stop hiding and join us for Christmas. She'll decorate the tree like she always does, make all the prettiest giftwrappings and most delicious chocolate toffees. Chris and Dave will tickle her and we'll all laugh. My logical mind knows that she's dead. Gone. Never to return.

I can't feel that now. To me, that notion is impossible.