Monday mornings at school were never memorable, pretty much like any other day at High School. And yet I can vividly recall one Monday morning in September as if it were yesterday.
I was 15 at the time and the whole school year (back in those days it was the 5th form – just like in Harry Potter) was called into an assembly. I can still remember the groans and complaints as we all lugged our bags and books into the school hall. Assemblies were never fun – sitting on hard chairs in silence, watching the overhead lights reflect off the headmaster’s follically challenged head and wondering if there were any cute boys to stare at instead.
This assembly was different.
The headmaster gave a brief word or two then handed over the microphone to a detective. That got my attention. And everyone else’s.
A boy in our year had gone missing on Saturday.
He was happy at home, no problems to report. He’d been out in the morning with a friend from school, went into Woolworths where a friend of mine had a Saturday job then went into the main town, still with his friend, to catch a bus to watch football. His friend didn’t want to see the footie so they happily parted company.
The town, a suburb of London, where I grew up was, and still is, jam packed on a Saturday. Hundreds of people walking about either shopping or transport hopping into London town.
And yet back in 1988 nobody saw this boy. Nobody has seen him since.
I went to a large High School and I only knew him by name. He wasn’t in any of my classes. Until that Monday morning assembly he hadn’t touched my life in any way.
I wonder about him from time to time. He visited me in a dream once about 8 years ago. That is also something I’ve never forgotten – nor will I ever forget him. And I know however impossible it may seem people – ordinary, normal people with life ahead of them – can simply vanish.
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