UKArchive ID: 19292Lost by chrissytotoro
Originally published on April 30, 2007 in Fiction

Not sure about the end of this. Any comments/constructive crit gratefully received.

This is not the first time that I have seen the boy. I have been watching him for three weeks. I knew he was the one the moment I saw him. He is small for his age. I know that he is twelve years old. His hair is blond and his eyes are brown.
When I was young, the grandmother used to bless herself whenever she saw me because I have blond hair and brown eyes.
The boy is slender. His skin lightly tanned. He has been on holiday, somewhere warm. I know where.
I watch him as his friends crowd round him. He has many friends. I had no friends when I was his age.
Today he cannot go with them and I see from his face that this makes him annoyed, maybe even a little angry.
The friends go one way, the boy goes the other, turning a moment to shout after them that he will see them later.
I pick up his pace as he walks, his hands stuffed in his pockets, his feet scuffing the ground. He looks so sad. Is what his friends are doing so important? When you are his age everything that you want to do is important.
He turns down a side street and I wait on the corner. He will come back. There is no short cut that he can take.
While I wait for him, I think of how his skin will feel when I touch it for the first time. I wonder if his hair will smell of shampoo, if he will still carry the scent of baby oil. I close my eyes for a moment and try to recall the scent of clean, childish skin. There is a special smell about a boy like him.
I open my eyes and see them coming from the junior school. She walks slightly ahead of him, dancing backwards. She is trying to show him something that she did in school, something she is proud of? He is not interested. He wants to get home, have his tea and then go out with his friends. He has no time for younger siblings.
In her backwards dance, she trips and falls. The boy laughs aloud and after a moment of indecision, where the choice is tears or smiles, the girl laughs too. Being a big brother, he helps her to stand and they continue on their way.
They pass me and I follow along the broad, pleasant street in early September when the leaves on the birch trees are not certain whether to turn gold.
At the crossing, he takes her hand and waits for the fat attendant, who looks so like the grandmother that I want to run and hide, to come to the centre of the crossing. She marches forward and stands stalwart against the traffic. I do not hear but I know that the boy has said thank you.
I cross the road a little behind them and follow them up the street to the little shop where he will buy sweets to share with his friends and she will probably buy a pencil for drawing.
For a moment I wait looking at the adverts in the window. Small yellowing cards that advertise line dancing, flat shares, The Samaritans and then I follow them inside.
We are the only customers and the young girl behind the counter pays us little attention. The boy heads straight for the sweets. For a second or two I hang back and then follow him.
He buys boiled sweets and a can of diet coke.
I reach down as he does and take a pack of wine gums. I want our hands to touch, to feel his skin against mine but it does not happen. He does not even look at me.
The girl is at the counter clutching a yellow pencil.
He places his sweets and cola next to the pencil. Giggling, his sister pushes them away. Her funds are limited and she will not pay for his purchases. He gives her a friendly push, they laugh and pay for their own, private joys.
From my pocket I take two twenty pence pieces. The girl behind the counter scarcely looks at me as she mutters 'thirty-eight pence.' I place the two pence change in the dog shaped RSPCA box. I have always had a fondness for animals.
Outside in the sunlight I see the boy as he again takes his sister's hand to cross Broadmead Avenue and I wonder briefly if he really cares what happens to her. Of course he must. He would not be the perfect child if he didn't.
They cross the road and turn down Church Lane. I have been this far before. I have stood at the corner my back pressed against the church wall, trying to control my emotions, trying to stop myself from feeling what I feel, wanting what I want. It has worked, until now.
I push away from the wall and turn down the road. By the time I see them again I am outside a large beautiful house.
The boy is closing the heavy wooden gate, the girl is already half way up the drive. I can see the house with its large windows, clean paint work, shining glass.
The boy looks up at me and I know, in that second that his eyes look directly into mine, that I no longer have a choice. I have to act now or there will be no point to living any more.
He smiles, as children smile sometimes at strangers they think might want something from them.
"Excuse me," I say and hear how very foreign I sound. "I am looking for the house of Mr and Mrs William Barker."
The boy looks a little surprised. He obviously did not think that I would be wanting his house.
"This is the house of Mr and Mrs Barker?" I say.
The boy does not answer me. The parents have taught him well. Do not speak to strangers. How well he has learned that.
The girl is at the front door. I watch almost breathless as the boy turns towards her and shouts to her to get mum and dad. For a second or two she looks back and then runs into the house.
The boy stands his ground by the gate and I feel a little proud of him for being so prepared to defend his territory. His shoulders are squarer as though he would be prepared to physically stop me entering. I long to reach through the gate and touch him but I do nothing.
The man is tall, stocky, fatter than I remember him. He stands in front of his wife and daughter and holds out his hand to his son.
I reach inside my jacket pocket and bring out a crumpled card. "Excuse me, you are Mr. William Barker?"
I hand over the card. The writing is faded but the hotel address is clear.
He looks down at it. Colour leaves his face like water draining from a sink.
His wife reaches forward and grabs the card from his shaking hand. Her expression is a mixture of pain and joy and fear. She opens her mouth to speak but she can say nothing.
Alarmed, her daughter clings to her.
"Please," I say, "I have to speak to you."
The woman looks directly at me and I remember those eyes laughing, looking into my eyes with love.

We talk for a long, long time. They show me the photographs, the news paper cuttings about the tragic couple whose little boy was abducted while they were on holiday, the countless letters to the police and the authorities. I tell them my story as much as I remember, as much as I can bear to tell them. I have the card and the small clothes and some of the money I took from the grand mother when she died. I have the vague memories of my brother being born, of his infancy and how his skin was so soft to the touch.
The tests we will take will tell us definitely where the truth lies but I know, in my own heart I know who I am and what happened to me. I know I was someone different, that I had another life before I was left with the grandmother who did not care for me and beat me when I tried to speak English. I know these things.
And I know that these are my parents and that this boy is my brother. I know he is the one.

© chrissytotoro (chrissy on OLD UKA)
UKArchive ID: 19292
Archived comments for Lost
SugarMama34 on 30-04-2007
Hi Chrissy,

I found this an intriguing write. I couldn't stop reading until I had finished. The narrator makes the reader believe that there is something sinister about to happen. To me as a reader the first thing I thought of was a peadophile following the child. I thought that the feelings/thoughts of the man were conveyed well and the twist was good at the end. I definatley didn't expect it.


Sugar. xx (Lis'.)

Author's Reply:
Lis'. many thanks for reading, commenting and for the generous rating. I'm very pleased that you enjoyed the piece.
I tried not to guide the reader too strongly in the direction of the peadophile but, inevitably when you have a strange older person following a child it is something that people think. As for the twist at the end, I fear that it could have been too much of a surprise but that was the idea that got me writing the story in the first place. There was a wee boy some time ago who went missing in Greece I think and years later there was a program on TV about it where they reconstructed his face aged by however many years he'd been gone and there was another boy in America who was found after many years of being abducted. It's just a strange situation that made me write the story but I fear that I didn't write enough about that and too much about his feelings about his little brother.
May do something more or different with it at another time.

delph_ambi on 01-05-2007
Good story. Definitely sinister undertones, when the narrator is following the children. That's well handled. The ending is good too, thought I would drop the last couple of sentences as you're almost saying to your reader: "look, in case you're thick and haven't 'got' it, this is what the story's about".

Author's Reply:
Many thanks for reading and commenting, much appreciated.
I guess I could leave off the last two sentences because I really wouldn't want anyone to think I was implying they were thick but the very last sentence; 'I know he is the one.' takes you right back to the beginning of the story. Don't know. Needs must think on't.

Bradene on 01-05-2007
It grabbed me from the beginning and I must say I did think of Paedophilia at first. It was only the last paragraph that it dawned on me what was actually happening here. The story is all the more powerful because of the true facts it mirrors. Superbly told .

Author's Reply:
Val, many thanks for reading and commenting and for the generous rating. I'm pleased that you enjoyed the piece and that it worked in the way it was intended to. Like I said, I didn't want to guide people too strongly along the Peadophile route because that would have made there ending seem "There! Wasn't what you thought it was." I think that was why I tried not to put too much emphasis on 'feelings' for the boy which the narrator didn't have and I tried to introduce a memory, the grandmother, of his previous life.

glennie on 02-05-2007
Yes, Chrissy, I thought 'paedophile' too but knew that would be too obvious and there would be a twist. The tension was well held throughout which keeps the readers interest. The last para, perhaps, had maybe a bit too much explanation, I think the reader has worked a lot of this out already. Glen.

Author's Reply:
Glennie, many thanks for taking the time to read and comment. It is genuinely appreciated.
I'm glad that the story worked for you and will take a look at the last paragraph again, see if we can't get across the information that he wasn't well treated during his captivity in a different way or in a different part of the story.