Intruder

Anna could not sit still no matter how hard she tried. She looked around the office at the several officers at their stations. The tiny cubicles did not conceal much. She sat and stared at the back of officer Dan’s desktop computer and wondered how much longer she would have to be here.

Dan soon appeared holding two cups of tea. One black, one white. She took the black.

“Why don’t you start at the beginning,” Dan said. He brought out a pen and a notebook.

“It’s a long story,” Anna replied.

“I’ve got time.” He smiled.

“Okay,” she began. “When I was 12 there was an incident at my house. My parents and I lived in a gated community in Nairobi. Something like Nyayo Estate but much much smaller. It was a nice place. Each lawn was green, each house had a car. Children could play freely in the street or the designated playing field.

“A few weeks after my twelfth birthday we started hearing news about break-ins. There was a burglar at large. Funny thing was that he never stole TVs or jewellery or anything of much value. Just some clothes here, a couple of spoons, pillows or stuffed animals. The thief would gain access to these houses through some unlocked window. We started being really careful with our windows from then.

“Months went by with no incidents. One day though, my dad had to travel for work. He left mum and me in Nairobi. That day, we had a power outage.”

Anna wrung her hands and reached for her tea. She jumped when another officer appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, to ask Dan for a file. Once he left, she took a sip from her cup – the tea was awful. Anna set her cup down and continued. “At seven o’clock my mother and I locked ourselves in like we were used to. We also had an early supper because there was nothing much to do. There were no smartphones or laptops then,” she chuckled slightly then stopped herself. It didn’t sound right. “It was a school night and I had to go to bed early. So, I did and shortly after, I heard mum clearing up and heading to her room.

“Late in the night, scratching at my window woke me up. The power was still out and it was too dark to see anything. Still, I was scared to look out from underneath the covers. The scratching continued for what felt like forever. Suddenly, the power came back on and whoever or whatever it was that was at my window fled.

“I never told my mother about it. I thought or perhaps I had hoped that it was a bad dream.”

Dan nodded. Anna noticed that he still hadn’t written anything down in his notebook. He took a gulp from his cup and scrunched his face. “Do you mind if I heat this up before we continue?”

“Sure. I don’t mind.”

He got up and was gone for about three minutes before he came back. His cup steaming hot. He motioned for Anna to continue.

“Where was I?”

“You never told your mother.”

So, he was listening. “Right. I never told my mother about that night. The next day I went to school and mum went to work. We thought everything was secure and locked up so imagine our shock when we came back to find the back door wide open.”

Dan scribbled something down.

“Mum was frantic. She told me to stay outside while she searched the house for anything missing. But mum didn’t need to tell me anything because I was in shock, rooted to the ground. When she was done, she came back to get me. Apparently, nothing was missing.

“Except, when we entered the kitchen, there was a knife lodged into the chopping board. A note written in red ink was beside it. It said, ‘I took your teddy bear. I was here last night but I couldn’t get in.’

“We called the police but nothing ever came of it.”

Dan nodded and said, “How many years ago was this, Ms Abdallah?”

“Seventeen years.”

“And you have come to report this again because…”

“Because someone broke into my house today and left this.” Anna slowly handed a note, carefully preserved in a Ziploc bag, to Dan. Dan studied the bold red words staring back at him.

All these years later and you’re still breathtaking.

I still have your teddy bear.

Would you like it back?

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