Page 33 of Daisy Darker

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“I’m fine. Honestly,” Nancy says. “It’s a headache and I’m just tired, like all of us. We need to find Trixie. Why don’t you lot check upstairs, and I’ll carry on looking down here?”

“Good idea,” says Lily. She never listens to anyone except our mother.

Rose, Lily, Conor, and I run upstairs, calling Trixie’s name, before each disappearing into a different bedroom to search. I start in the one Lily and Trixie shared last night.

This used to be my sisters’ bedroom when we were childrenwhenever they stayed at Seaglass. It’s bigger than mine, but I suppose there were two of them. Everything is very much the same as it was then, with ghastly pink carpet, pink curtains, and floral wallpaper. My sisters were girly girls. I can still see the dark rectangles where they used to stick their posters when we were here for the summer holidays—always boy bands for Lily, cute animals for Rose. There are two beds on opposite sides of the room, two little tables, two windows, and a wall of built-in wardrobes.

“Trixie?” I whisper, but there’s no reply. All I can hear is the rain lashing the window, and the sea crashing against the rocks outside. This is still a room of two sides. Lily’s bed is unmade with clothes on the floor around it, and her bedside table is a mess of magazines and makeup, even though she’s only been here for a few hours. On the other side of the room, and in stark contrast, Trixie’s bed is neatly made. All I can see on her bedside table is an old book she must have borrowed from Nana’s library, and a glass of water.

I get down on the floor and look beneath the beds, but there is nothing there. I hear another deep rumble of thunder in the distance and have an overwhelming urge to hide. Storms at Seaglass seemed to be a regular occurrence when we were little girls, the emotional and literal varieties. I remember being so scared by the sound of thunder outside—or shouting downstairs—that I would often run in here at night. Fear was one of the few things that seemed to unite me and my sisters when we were children.

A storm at Seaglass is not the same as a storm in London, or anywhere else that I have lived. Being in a storm here, on this tiny island, feels like being on a rickety old ship in the middle of the sea, one that will surely sink if the waves get too high. We used to hide together under the beds in this room when life got too loud—Lily under one, Rose and I huddled under the other. Then we would count the number of seconds between the lightning and theinevitable thunder that followed, to know how many miles away it would strike. I find myself counting again now.

One Mississippi… Two Mississippi… Three Mississippi…

There were other times, when a storm snuck up on us in the night, when I would have to hide alone, under my own bed in my room. But we could always hear one another counting through the walls in the darkness. The closer the storm got, the more frightened we became, as a flash of light lit up whichever room we were hiding in. I’m sure my sisters are probably sharing the same silent memories now.

One Mississippi… Two Mississippi…

The doors on the built-in wardrobes that line one wall of the room all have wooden slats. As I take one last look around, I’m convinced I see one of them move out of the corner of my eye. I stop and stand perfectly still, listening.

“Trixie?” I whisper.

I hear something.

“Trixie, are you in there?”

The silence that follows suggests I must have imagined it. But then I hear what sounds like someone breathing very quietly.

I want to fling the doors open, but I’m scared of what I might find.

A flash of lightning lights up the sky outside the window for a second time, and I think I hear something move behind the wardrobe doors again. It’s impossible to ignore now, and I force my feet to take a step closer. I pretend that there is nothing to be afraid of, even though events so far tonight suggest otherwise. The wardrobe is within touching distance, and I slowly reach for the handle. Then there is another flash of lightning.

One Mississippi…

I don’t get to two.

The thunder claps as though eagerly applauding the show before it is over. The noise is almost instant and so loud that it seems to shake the house. The lights go out and I am a child again, terrified in the darkness, too scared to move or make a sound. I tell myself it’s just a power outage and try to stay calm.

But then lightning strikes again.

It illuminates everything, including the wardrobe doors, and I see two eyes between the slats staring right at me before the room goes black.

Then the doors start to shake and rattle.

Someone is trapped inside, and they want to get out.


October 31, 2:15 a.m.

less than four hours until low tide

It all happens so fast: the lightning, the eyes behind the wardrobe door, the darkness, and then the sound of Rose’s voice right behind me in the room.

“What areyoudoing in here?” she asks, and at first I think she means me.

She has a flashlight as though she knew the lights were going to go out—which she aims at the wardrobe before flinging the doors open.

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