Until the other night......... I sat up in bed, it was dark, the buzzer buzzed again. I was out of bed before I was awake. I had no idea what time it was but it was very dark and very cold. I knew my son was at home but I looked at his door just to check. Locked from the inside, it couldn't be him buzzing the buzzer. Maybe one of his friends? It had happened before.
"It's the police," came the response to my hello into the intercom, "open the door."
Still more asleep than awake, I felt completely confused, my heart suddenly racing. I looked at my son's door again: he was definitely asleep, he was in, he was safe. I buzzed open the door to the building and then my front door. A very tall, very young police boy appeared in shirt sleeves and a stab vest. Behind him stood a very short, very young, police girl also wearing a stab vest. It was very, very cold. I remember wondering why they were in shirt sleeves as I stood in the hall, shivering in my pyjamas. I still wasn't quite sure if they were just trying to gain access to my building or me. The police boy then whipped out his note book, he asked if a name I'd never heard before lived in my flat. I said no, I'd never heard of her. I really couldn't get my head around what was going on. I felt utterly dazed, shaking with cold and shock. The police girl asked how long I'd lived there and I had absolutely no idea, I couldn't even remember what year it was. They both kept apologising for it being 'after midnight' and understood I was confused. I hadn't even had a drink. Honestly your honour. I asked what it was about and they said she was a 17 year old missing person and somehow her care home had our address. At this point I began to come too, her first name rang the faintest of bells and I said I believed she maybe the girlfriend of my son's friend, I knew there'd been an argument with a parent, I knew his friend had nowhere to stay. But she definitely didn't live with me. They weren't terribly bothered, thanked me, apologised for waking me, wrote down a reference number and asked if my son might call the next day if he knew anything of her whereabouts. And said good night. I went back to bed. It was only quarter to one. Now I was wide awake.
They were perfectly polite but I was surprised by what a shock their visit had caused, my heart still pounding in my chest. I wondered how it might be if English weren't my first language, if they'd been banging on the door wanting entry, how much more confused I would have been, what I might have done or said or not been able to remember even if their visit had been a mistake.
The girl was 'found' the next day, never knowingly missing, and very sorry.
Top tip: new favourite chocolate, Co-Op's Fairtrade Dark Chocolate with Cranberries..... a taste of Christmas on your tongue