The disappearance of Bianca Knight

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The disappearance of Ben's sister had disturbed, as always, the quiet of the small town between the hills. But this time, people hadn't mobilized as they did seven years ago when Danny Stevens disappeared. Albert Pride hadn't sent his men to help with the search. The police had not been called.

Now, that the inevitable happened, the town was turning to its quiet and carefree life. People began taking their evening walks again. The children stayed outside until late at night. It was as if the disappearance of Bianca Knight was what they had all been waiting for so that life to return to normal.

Besides Ben's friends and their families, few people in town had joined the search. During the night, Ferry and his friends roamed the town and the forest in search of Bianca, hoping that maybe the girl had just got lost and had not fallen into the hands of fairies.

Ferry had only been to Ben's house once since Bianca disappeared and had been shaken by how much everything changed. Ben and his family wandered the streets for days and nights without eating or sleeping. Without caring that the clothes weren't clean or the hair wasn't combed. The house was empty, and the echo of laughter had been replaced by silence and dust.

Ben looked weaker with each day. He was still coming to school, but his smile was gone and his gaze was blank. He barely talked to someone, even to Ferry. Matilda had agreed that Ben needed her support, although she and Ferry were still not talking to each other.

"Ben, tonight, Lavender's house," she decided during a recreation.

Ferry felt guilty that he was glad to see her, given the situation. Ben nodded, reluctantly. But he showed up at Lavender's house that night, anyway.

Now, he was sitting in Lavender's living room, surrounded by his friends, as gloomy as usual. Ferry and Matilda, Sage, Rosemary and Parsley, and of course Lavender, were all looking at Ben, trying to bring him some comfort. Oona had already gone to bed.

"All right, let's start over," Lavender said. "Who last saw Bianca?"

"Celeste, her friend," Ben said with a sigh, "It was after school. They went to pick flowers at the edge of the forest."

"Then what happened?"

"Celeste said Bianca started behaving strangely. She was talking to someone unseen. She said a fairy was calling for her to show her something. Then she ran behind the old oak at the edge of the forest. Celeste waited for her to come from behind the tree, and when she saw she didn't appear, she searched for her. But she was nowhere to be seen."

"Maybe she just got lost in the woods, Ben," Parsley tried to encourage him. "We shall keep looking for her."

"Maybe Izzy is right," Matilda tried to encourage him. "You know how children are at this age. She might have hidden in the woods for fear of being punished. Of course, we'll keep looking for her for as long as it takes," she said, putting her hand lightly on his shoulder.

Ferry wrapped her in a warm look, happy to know her so close. But the girl didn't pay him any attention.

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