This photo is actually my daughter but as it actually was a Polaroid it has not lasted brilliantly and looks like a far older picture once scanned into the computer to the point where she almost looks like a ghost child stood in the picture so I feel okay about putting this one up for public use.
She held up the photo, letting her head drop to the side she stared intently at it. It was familiar somehow yet she knew she had neither seen it before it arrived in the post nor knew the girl whose faded image gazed back at her.
She replaced the picture back on the pile of documents and looked across her desk at the small clock damn late again. She grabbed her bag from the back of her chair and with a final look over her workspace, shut off the lamp and headed for the door, out in reception a hand waved from behind a magazine as she flew past.
Twenty minutes later she slid into the booth uttering apologies. Her companion made a play of looking at his watch and shaking his head, laughter from a nearby table distracting them both momentarily as they checked it was not aimed at their charade. Simon had long since stopped expecting Clara to arrive on time, he knew how engrossed in her work she could become if no one stepped in to interrupt her.
“So who was it today?”
“No one!” She snatched up the menu and pretended to be studying it.
“Come on, tell big bro, who has your attention this time, I know you too well and I can tell something has got a grip on you.” He took the menu from her. “I already ordered, you always have the same so I figured I would go ahead and save time.”
He was the one person she could not lie to, born only a minute before she had entered the world he was her true other half, no boyfriend or lover could ever match the bond they had, in fact few could understand it but that was a whole different ball game. Throwing her head back, her eyes rolled to the ceiling as she conceded defeat and told him what she knew of the case laying upon her desk.
She had always loved history and the new passion for tracing family trees had provided her with the perfect career, as a genealogist she got paid to spend her days poking round in archives, wandering round old churches looking at records and gravestones. It had been just another day in the office until that package had arrived on her desk.
The accompanying letter gave very few details, they had cleared out an elderly relatives house and found the photo along with the other documents that had been sent along with it, birth, death and marriage certificates, a generation or two of faceless names. The problem seemed to be while the names were known and accounted for this one face remained elusive, none of the other records seemed to have any relation to her. Her commission was to find out who the girl was.
The letter had also stated something strange that ever since he had found the photo he had been haunted by the girl in his dreams, she had laughed, spraying the coffee she had been drinking at the time across her desk as she read it. That had been yesterday, today she did not laugh. The bags under her eyes told their own story, her brother was the only person she could tell who would believe that the girl with the snake had stood by her bed last night and called her.