It was getting close to midnight. I had been slowly pushing one of my mum’s earrings through my ear lobe for several hours. I was so close, yet I couldn’t bring myself to pierce through the final layers of skin. I was 13 years old. The time had come to confess to my mum what I had been doing all evening. I thought she would be mad. She wasn’t. Instead, she offered to help me finish the job.
We had stopped by the side of the road to meet some sheep. It reminded me of a time when I was at a farm with my family. It was one of those places where you could buy a paper bag of food and feed the goats. We were feeding a goat food from a paper bag and when the food was all gone, the goat ate the bag.
I said to my friends “Hey! Sheep eat paper. Let’s feed it a map!” (I think that I got confused between goats and sheep). I then proceeded to remove a page from my friend Josh’s UK atlas. We were in the middle of nowhere and there was no-one around. The only sign of human life was a couple of guys riding motorbikes a few fields over. Giggling away we tried to feed this sheep a torn bit of map. Suddenly from nowhere we hear the voice of an authoritative sounding woman from behind us: “Can I help you?”. I literally had a piece of map in my right hand pushed up against the unaccommodating mouth of a sheep.
I woke up the next morning to a voicemail from the Manilla Police Department. The shockingly aggressive message left by Mr Santiago said that they were looking for Daniel*. They wanted him to call immediately.
I don’t know what he did wrong. What I do know is that shortly after, Daniel went missing for almost 3 weeks. During that time I frantically called, texted and emailed. I heard nothing.
I was sat in one of the largest offices in the building on my beautiful leather sofa. The office was completely glass fronted. Anyone walking past could see into our unusual space, which looked more like a hipster living room than a place of work. My team of 8 were working away on client projects. The TV was playing surf videos and our office Spotify playlist was blaring out.
Everyone thought we were complete assholes.
I was doing manual work almost 24 hours a day and earning more money than ever before. I had just bought a brand new house in a popular area of town. In cash. I had enough money in the bank to keep me in food and clothes for years.