I snatch up my passport and wheel my suitcase outside. I hate my parents. I’m going to go away- far away. I haven’t decided where to go yet. My home in Miami isn’t family for me anymore. It never will be. My parents hate me. I hate them. I hate my sister, Mindy, too, for siding with them. I hope the taxi won’t take too long. Mindy is now in one of her own little games, out in the backyard, caught up in her imagination.

I come to the airport and find it is completely deserted. I stop in my tracks. The only people here are an old couple that keep hugging, their young child who looks about as happy as our neighbour, Mr Virile, when he’s in one of his rages and a clean-shaven man in a business suit that keeps looking at his watch. He looks up and looks straight at me. I am tired as hell so I lean on my suitcase.

The man approaches me. He looks slightly menacing. ‘Hi, Evie,’ he say to me. How does this man know my name? My parents have never mentioned him to me, nor have I ever met him. ‘Your parents are fine with your going away and everything.’ Oh no. How do they know? I must have left noticeable clues around the household. ‘I’m Dan Evans, call me Dan and I’ll be escorting you today.’

I’m lost for words, which is strange because that never happens, even when my parents are calling me a loser, stupid, you name it. I always have enough speech to yell back.

Dan seizes my arm and I pull along my suitcase. We arrive in the plane. Even now, when we’re on the aircraft, I have no speech. It’s as if I have been saving up all my words to yell at my parents and now I have no words left.

‘Yes?’ says the air hostess by the door who understandably doesn’t look too happy to see me with this guy, especially since I only booked in alone. ‘Your names?’
‘This is Evie Browne,’ says Dan before I can jump in. ‘I’m her uncle, Lionel Evans.
He turns to me before I can say he’s not. I’m starting to lose control. Should I have left? Maybe it’s a bit much.
‘I have to say I’m your uncle or else they won’t believe me and I guess I just like the name Lionel,’ he whispers. ‘That okay with you?’
I nod, mouth open.
The air hostess nods. ‘You aren’t related to Dan Evans are you?’
‘No,’ he shakes his head. ‘No way.’
‘Good,’ says the air hostess. ‘You’re allowed to board.’ We both find seats.

I can’t help questioning why Dan is being so nice to me. Everyone hates me. My parents, my siblings, even my “best friend” Susie had turned on me for being ‘too quiet’.

When we arrive, Dan takes me to my hotel in his car. I swallow. ‘Okay,’ I say, finally able to talk. ‘Bye then.’
‘Not so fast,’ says Dan. He grabs me by the neck in a fierce headlock. I see a fierce grin etched on his face.
‘What?” I manage to get out while choking. I splutter drops of water all over him. He coughs, startled, then that evil smile creeps back onto his face like a snake stalking its next victim.
‘You actually thought I was your escort?’ he scoffs. ‘God, kids are much more gullible these days than in 1936!’ 1936? He’s been kidnapping since 1936? Or is that when he was kidnapped or something? I have so many questions, but when I open my mouth to ask them, he stuffs a sock into it.
‘Ha,’ he says. ‘Easy.’

I end up in a little hut outside his house. It has terrible water systems, the toilet is smelly, the sink damp and the water murky. I have a bed which is also damp and a broken box for a bedside table. How am I going to keep warm? It’s the middle of a freezing 1956 winter.

I flop onto my bed and cover myself up with the warmest blanket I can find in my suitcase. Too bad I hadn’t been prepared for warmth! Somehow I drift off to sleep. Even though in my head I hear my parents’ voices calling for me, wondering where I am.

It’s my parents. Why have I left them? What was I thinking? I love them of course I do. But how will I get back to them? All I have left is their voices. I’ll never see them again as long as I live. If I can get out of here. The only thing I can hear won’t leave my mind.¬† Four words echo around the hut.

‘Evie, I miss you.’