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“Missing?” Greta stuttered, staring at the detective, waiting for him to say he got the name wrong. Or that it wasn’t the Yvonne Archer she knew.
Detective Wooton nodded slowly. He stared back at her, giving her a minute to absorb just how serious things were.
“Ms. Cranston,” he said carefully after a minute. “I have to be honest, I didn’t think the two cases were connected, but it would be a remarkable coincidence if they weren’t. So I’m going to need you to tell me everything you know about Philip and Yvonne.”
Greta didn’t sleep that night. Every time she closed her eyes, she saw Philip, and her mind created a version of how he hurt Yvonne and his mother. She had no details; it was purely her own imagination, and a few times her own demise snuck into the move-like illusion.
Greta paced her house. She tried to watch television and to read a book to distract herself. When nothing worked, she played the piano. Music had always been an outlet for her, but tonight it wasn’t working. It didn’t relieve her anxiety.
Despite knowing that something was off about Philip and suspecting that he could be dangerous, there was no preparing her for proof that he was a killer. He was so young, but the emptiness behind his eyes was jarring. He was obsessive but yet detached. Philip was complicated, and Greta knew he was most likely bullied or, at the very least, ignored by peers. For that, she felt for him. But knowing he could have the capacity for kidnapping and murder? Her stomach turned at the thought.
Greta’s cell phone pinged. The number was Philip’s mom’s cell phone, and excitement that she was okay filled Greta’s entire body. It was all a misunderstanding. She had gone away for work, or maybe she had a new boyfriend, and she just didn’t tell anyone.
“Hi, Miss Greta. It’s Philip. Can I come over?”
She didn’t respond to the text right away. It was 3 AM and it scared her as if he were watching her. It was like he knew she was awake and thinking about him.
“Miss Greta? I really need to talk to you.”
The second text came through minutes after the first and seemed as if he read her mind.
Greta turned off her cell phone.
The next morning, Greta called her students scheduled for the day and asked to move their lessons to different times. She told them she wasn’t feeling herself and may be coming down with something. It was half true. Once everyone was rescheduled, she pressed the text message icon on her cell phone and read each of the ten messages waiting to be opened.
“Miss Greta, I know you talked to the cops. I need to explain.”
“Did they say they think I killed my mom? Is that what they said?”
“Do you think the kids at school know what’s going on? I’m worried Christina might not like me anymore.”
“Miss Greta, I know you’re not sleeping?”
“Do you think I killed her? My mom, I mean.”
“I’m not going to school tomorrow. Maybe I can come over during the day if now isn’t good?”
“I’m getting upset that you aren’t answering me.”
“You think I did it, don’t you?”
“Hey, remember Yvonne?”
“Maybe I’ll see if Christina wants to hang out tomorrow.”
Greta’s heart dropped. She had worried from the beginning that Christina would be a target. She couldn’t live with herself if he harmed the young girl, especially if it was because she ignored him.
Greta called Philip’s mom’s cell phone.