- Author: Leanne Hall
Book online «The Gaps Leanne Hall (readict books .TXT) 📖». Author Leanne Hall
When sixteen-year-old Yin Mitchell is abducted, the news reverberates through the whole Year Ten class at Balmoral Ladies College. As the hours tick by, the girls know the chance of Yin being found alive is becoming smaller and smaller.
Everyone is affected by Yin’s disappearance—even scholarship student Chloe, who usually stays out of Balmoral dramas, is drawn into the maelstrom. And when she begins to form an uneasy alliance with Natalia, the queen of Year Ten, things get even more complicated.
A tribute to friendship in all its guises, The Gaps is a moving examination of vulnerability and strength, safety and danger, and the particular uncertainties young women face in the world.
ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
For Penny, Hannah, Emah and Tash
There’s a photo of a schoolgirl next to the newsreader’s head, emblazoned with the word ABDUCTED. The orange-and-green check of the girl’s dress is unmistakeable.
‘Yin Mitchell,’ I say to myself. A cold feeling races through me.
The photo on the screen is at least a few years old—Yin has stubby ribboned pigtails, round cheeks. She wears her hair longer these days, with a feathery fringe she pushes to the side.
I stab the volume button on the remote and my sketchbook slides to the floor. The newsreader’s voice is flat, but laced with an appropriate amount of sorrow.
‘The armed assailant broke into the Sandpiper Drive house in the early hours of this morning via a ground floor window. The victim’s mother, Chunjuan Mitchell, intercepted the intruder, but was forced into a downstairs bathroom and tied up. The alarm was raised around dawn when Stephen Mitchell, who had been sleeping in a separate part of the house, heard his wife’s cries and discovered that their sixteen-year-old daughter was missing.’
Yin. Yin. Hangs out with Claire and Milla. Was in my English class in first term, but switched out later, I’m not sure why. Wears liquid eyeliner to school on the sly. Quiet, smart, deep into the orchestra scene.
It can’t be true. Not again.
‘Turn it down, Chlo. We’ll get another note under our door.’
Mum points to the thin wall we share with our elderly neighbours, leans against the doorframe to put her earrings in, her hair hanging like a silk sheet. Everything about her is tiny and neat and pretty; she always looks immaculate in her work uniform.
‘Someone else has been abducted from Balmoral.’
‘Oh my god.’ Mum comes closer and we watch grainy footage of a suburban street, cordoned off with striped plastic tape and swarming with shadowy figures searching for clues. Rosy-dawn-tinged, police-light blue. In the background a curious neighbour lingers in a pink dressing gown, hand clamped over her pixel mouth.
‘Is she in your year level?’ Mum sits next to me and grabs my hand.
My brother Sam slinks into the room and crouches in the shadows next to the couch. Our Jack Russell, Arnold, lifts his head from the rug to look disapprovingly at him.
‘Yeah. Not in my class though.’
The scene doesn’t look real.
It looks like a Bill Henson photograph, one of the barely lit landscapes I saw at the National Gallery on first term’s Art excursion. I’d never seen photos that looked so painterly. They featured beautiful young bodies and ancient sculptures and mammoth rocks and the ocean sliding in and out of shadows, night-time scenes barely lit in ways that made them unsettling, enticing, mysterious.
I stayed and looked at the exhibition for so long the bus almost returned to school without me. I drank in the photos like they were water. I wanted life to be something like those pictures: dark, raw, significant.
But not like this.
When I decided to take the scholarship to Balmoral Ladies College, my Morrison High friends called it the Kidnapping School.
This isn’t the first time this has happened.
‘When?’ Mum says.
‘Don’t think so. Not yet.’
I catch myself playing with the dangly jade charm on Mum’s bracelet, a childhood habit.
The Mitchell family property has a six-foot-high wall, and a video intercom on the front gate. It’s a fortress—so how did someone break in?
‘Her parents must be frantic.’ Mum always gets upset when bad things happen to other people, even though she never gets that upset for herself.
The view switches to a helicopter shot, showing the blue and green shapes of swimming pools and tennis courts, driveways as long as airport landing strips, avenues of trees and cream-and-yellow Lego mansions. So this is where my classmates live. I’ve never been to a Balmoral girl’s house; I’ve never been invited.
‘I’ll cancel my shift. Where’s my phone?’
‘No.’ I nudge her phone under a cushion.
I’m not scared to be at home alone. Not very, anyway. Not enough to lose money over.
‘I’m not leaving you by yourselves.’
Mum’s manager is a real knob. He hates giving her time off or letting her swap shifts. It’s probably because he asked her out in her first few weeks at the hotel and she said no.
An identikit portrait fills the screen—a man wearing a balaclava and sunglasses, his whole face covered. A ridiculous thing to show because it could be anyone. Generic bad dude.
‘Whoa,’ says Sam. ‘Freaky.’
Mum starts like she’s only just realised he’s in the room.
Sam crawls closer, his mouth rapturously open in the television glare. It’s probably the same as the opening scenes of CSI to him. Arnold pedals his tiny legs against Sam’s encroachment and whines.
Mum reaches over and switches the telly off. She hasn’t got the memo yet that Sam isn’t a baby anymore.
‘I’m still watching!’ Sam balls his fists.
‘You’re not watching anything,’ Mum tells him. ‘Keep your phone on and beside your bed,’ she says to me. ‘I’m going to text you every half hour. If you don’t