Katherine Bosworth is from a small market town in Cambridgeshire. She now lives in Didsbury, where she spends time walking through botanical gardens and writing her first novel. In 2017, she completed her degree in English & American Literature and French at the University of Kent, where she was President of the French Society, and produced content for the Publishing Society. She then worked in customer service for one year, and was mentored by a senior copywriter there. During her MA Creative Writing course, she aided the production of several creative writing workshops in schools, and edited the copy for this anthology.
Heather’s steps directly followed those of the police officer, and her eyes descended from the officer’s head down to her legs. The officer’s gait was wide like a cow’s, and her legs were masses of swinging flab. Heather continued to watch as she trudged into the small box room at the end of the corridor. As they passed, different noises wafted in and out of earshot: shouting, pens tapping on desks, and mumbling. In the room, Heather sat down opposite the police officer, and saw her hovering over an official-looking document.
‘Let’s begin with your full name,’ said the officer.
‘Heather Jones,’ she replied.
‘J-O-N-N-S?’ the police officer asked, the letters slurred in her Croatian accent. Heather smiled reluctantly, her face twitching slightly, and meekly corrected her. The police officer didn’t look up at Heather, only writing on the sheet in front of her. Heather’s stomach tensed. Heather stared, willing the officer to look at her and end this nervous feeling. She kept staring. The officer had dark brown eyes, and thick blonde curls that weren’t symmetrical on both sides.
‘You are happy in English?’
‘Yes, that’s fine.’
‘Great, so what happened?’
‘I was walking through town,’ Heather gulped, ‘and someone kidnapped me.’
‘Where did it happen?’
‘By the river,’ she mumbled.
‘On the river, where?’
The police officer scribbled, and then looked up at Heather sharply. Heather felt relieved that she was finally looking at her. A brief thrill of human connection.
‘I don’t know where!’ said Heather.
‘Okay… What can you remember…?’ asked the officer.
Heather breathed in slowly and looked at the wall behind the officer.
‘He was tall, bald, I think he was in his forties.’
‘Race?’ she sighed.
‘White. He was Croatian, he told me.’
‘Did he say anything else?’
‘Nothing really, nothing else except that,’ she said, hoping she sounded convincing.
‘Did he have a weapon?’ The officer’s expression was now one of disbelief, her eyebrows raised and lips pursed.
‘A knife.’ Heather’s heart beat intensely. She didn’t know where that had come from.
‘Did he threaten you?’
‘No… I mean yes actually, he said he would stab me.’
‘Yes or no?’
‘Yes. He threatened to use it if I tried to run away,’ she said, committing to this alternate story. The officer squinted her eyes slightly.
‘Wait, I thought he didn’t say much…?’
‘He didn’t… He didn’t really… but then he took me to an apartment, I don’t really know where. It was really dark. He handcuffed me, and then-’
‘Okay… I think that’s all I need, let’s finish there.’
Heather was stunned. She wanted to tell her all about what had happened in the apartment, but the police officer was already walking around the table towards the door. Heather stood facing her.
‘You can go now. Interview finished.’ The officer smiled slightly, but her eyes were glazed over with boredom.
‘Yes, goodbye now.’
Heather turned around to exit, and walked swiftly away from the interview room, her mind racing with regret. The interview had happened so quickly that only now could she slow down to think. The other women in that apartment were trapped there. The officer didn’t even know where the apartment was. She stared directly at the ground as she walked away, and kicked the pebbles beneath her feet. She could almost hear the screaming from the women in the apartment.
Heather turned around, and walked back towards the police station. The curly-haired officer from before was still walking down the corridor.
‘Excuse me,’ Heather said. The officer turned around.
‘I have to tell you more details about the kidnapping.’
‘That’s enough, we are very busy.’
‘There are women trapped in that apartment!’
‘In the apartment, that you don’t know the location of, in a story that keeps changing every two minutes?’
‘It’s true what I’m telling you!’
The officer rolled her eyes and walked away. Heather whimpered and left too.
Heather stared out at her surroundings. The square cobbled tiles under her feet were beige, and she could feel the heat rising from the ground through the soles of her sandals. The pavements were cracked at the kerbs, dishevelled and nearly broken. She looked at a tree further down the road which reminded her of the palm trees she had seen in films. It had long, thin wispy leaves and a thick hairy trunk. Not quite a palm tree, but it seemed exotic nonetheless. She looked back down at her feet, pale and wrapped in the plastic sandals she had bought from the market in Cambridge.
After looking out for a few moments, she started to remember where she had come from in the police car, and walked back along the same route. She counted at least five police cars driving into the police station as she left. Each car had passengers in the back seat, and Heather glared in at them as the cars drove by. She could see that the people in the cars were a variety of ages and colours. The cars parked up in front of the station, and as Heather walked on, she looked back to see the passengers now being led inside by the police officers. All of the officers were walking with their legs far apart, just like the one who had interviewed her. Heather remembered how the police officer hadn’t believed her.
…in a story that keeps changing every two minutes? Heather replayed the officer’s words in her mind. She shivered.
Heather felt a sudden pang of hunger, and looked across the road to see people smiling and eating at café tables in the sunshine. She kept walking, but stopped when she reached a crossroads, seeing that the new road was recklessly busy. Staring ahead, she looked at the road signs to her left and right. Cars were bolting down the roads either side. She shuddered and turned around, walking towards where she had come from. She focussed on finding shelter as quickly as possible.
She waved her arms out at a taxi, which was driving by slowly, and heard an aggressive PAP PAP of its horn as it drove away. As she approached the police station once again, she saw a stationary taxi and opened its door.
‘Dobar dan!’ the taxi driver said. He had short black hair and large arms that were difficult to ignore. The muscles bulged out of his short sleeves. He wore a silver wristwatch on his right arm that glinted when the sunlight hit it. He kept the watch face in view as he turned around, by manoeuvring his elbow across his chest.
‘How are you today madam?’
‘I’m alright, thank you. How are you?’
‘I’m right as rain!’ the man laughed, rolling his r’s. Heather laughed back hesitantly.
She closed her eyes for only a moment and remembered that she had escaped her kidnappers with only the clothes on her back. She desperately ran her hands underneath her bottom and into her back pockets. In the deep crevice of the left-hand pocket was a tightly rolled-up scrap of paper. She pulled it out and unrolled it quickly. It was a five euro note. She must have put it there when she left England.
‘Where are you going today?’ he asked.
‘To the nearest hotel please,’ she replied.
‘Ah, the Kolovare is near,’
With that, the car sped off down the road. Heather couldn’t help thinking that it was further than he had suggested when he had said the word ‘near’. There must have been a hotel closer than that. It felt like she had been in the taxi for at least ten minutes. When they finally arrived, she clutched the note and took a breath in.
‘Thirty-five kuna,’ the taxi driver said, looking at her through the rear-view mirror.
Heather’s heart rate suddenly increased.
‘This is all I have.’
She handed the note over, hands shaking.
The taxi driver nodded and handed her some coins.
Heather pushed the car door open to exit. The chilled, static atmosphere of the taxi gave way to the dry and screeching heat of the outdoors.
‘Thank you, have a good day,’ the taxi driver said.
End of extract.
Katherine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org