Butterflies in my stomach, heart racing, brain all a whirl, I head into the court. My dyed red hair is all in a knot from the hours I spent alone in the cell. I can’t think straight. The judge is speaking to the small cluster that is the jury and suddenly he’s addressing me.
“Molly Hoppingdol. You have been accused by an individual, who shall rename nameless, of kidnapping this young girl,” he indicates a photo of a little girl with blond hair and freckles, “Louisa Lows. Do you plead guilty or not guilty?”
“Not guilty,” I reply quickly. Too quickly?
I don’t know what happened next. I was staring at the floor. There was a lot of talking. Suddenly the judge declared: “Not guilty.” I stared at him. After a whole sixteen years of lying, the first truth I tell saves me. As I leave the court, I wonder how I was accused and why I wasn’t charged. I think that what made a new question come to light, where now?
Louisa Lows. The name rings a bell. Ignore me. I’m not going forward, I’m heading back, back to the start of Molly Hoppingdol. Molly was never born.
She came when I was six. I ran away from home. How or why is a mystery to me now and so is my whole past life, actually. I don’t even remember my name. Only one thing stuck: my address. I can’t forget it. It’s like the remnants of my old life, staying forever to haunt me. I stayed around for a bit but then ‘Missing’ posters starting appearing and I ran off. That’s when Molly began. It was just the name to start with but soon enough I dyed my hair and began to cover up my freckles.
Nothing’s changed. Molly stuck and I forgot my real name but the address still hovered there, a never-tired ghost. Apart from this new feeling. The only feeling I’ve ever felt before is being lost.
But now I’ve got a longing, a longing for home. Not my flat. Home, home. Mum, dad etc. I don’t remember any siblings but I could have hundreds for all I know. But I can’t go back. I’m two people now: if I go Molly will go missing and if I stay whoever I was will never be found.
I’m too young to make that decision. I’ve kidded myself around me that I’m eighteen but really I’m young, sweet sixteen. But I’m not getting older. I’m getting younger, like I said, going back…
The next thing I know I’m there. Yes, there, there. At that address, at that doorstep. My hair is back to blond and my freckles are on display. Deep breaths. My finger reaches out and knocks. I want to run away but I’m glued down.
An old lady answers it. Her mouth drops open.
“M… Mum?” I stutter,
“Louisa?” she breathes back. And then – click – the last piece of the puzzle falls into place, I’m Louisa Low.