Playdate by Alex Dahl
About The Book
It was meant to be your daughter’s first sleepover. Now it’s an abduction. Lucia Blix went home from school for a playdate with her new friend Josie. Later that evening, Lucia’s mother Elisa dropped her overnight things round and kissed her little girl goodnight.
That was the last time she saw her daughter.
The next morning, when Lucia’s dad arrived to pick her up, the house was empty. No furniture, no family, no Lucia.
We’re almost an hour delayed when we push back from the gate, but the pilots are confident we’ll recover the time with the strong tail wind. I close all the galley lockers and run through the checklist, then speak to the passengers as we taxi away from the terminal. Gloomy clouds churn above us: another grey and windy day.
‘Welcome on board this Nordic Wingsflight to Rome Fiumicino. Please pay attention to the security information playing on the screens above you. We wish you a pleasant flight with Nordic Wings.’
I close my eyes briefly as the plane is lined up ready on the runway, then the pilot urges the throttle and we shoot down the tarmac. The plane takes off, trembling through the low clouds, then settles into a smooth glide as we surface into the bright blues above them. I lean back in the jump seat and smile at a baby perched on its father’s knee in the second row. The baby waves at me with a chubby fist and I wave back. I wonder how Lucia is getting on at her sleepover. I texted Line just before I had to put my phone on flight mode, to say Fredrik was free to pick her up whenever suits them best, and to just get in touch with him directly.
As we continue to climb, I make some small talk with the trainee flight attendant sitting on the jump seat next to me. Her name is Charlotte, and in less than five minutes I learn that she is from a small town in Northern Norway, that she is really, really into manga and likes to dress as her favorite character, a pink-haired schoolgirl called Taya. She also tells me that she has just moved in with her boyfriend, but that he’s a bit of a man-child.
I’m pleased when the signal sounds and get up, motioning for Charlotte to do the same. I run through the check-lists on auto-pilot: bathroom check, coffee, oven started, trolley checked. I love that no two days are the same on my job, and yet all the routines are reassuringly repetitive.
By the time we begin to approach Rome and I sit back down in the jump seat, I realize that I’m feeling so tired I could actually fall asleep, slumping against the constraints of my three-point belt. I guess many people have it like this. I’ve read that it’s a result of the stresses of modern life, especially for women. Work, children, relationships. We just don’t get any breaks.
It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that–those things are enough to make anyone feel exhausted from time to time. I close my eyes and listen to the clunk of the landing gear extending. One of our most senior pilots is flying us in today and he touches down so smoothly I’m not immediately sure whether we have actually landed. I smile at the passengers, and watch the terminal buildings come into view, shining softly in brilliant sunlight. My husband was right-lucky me.
About The Author
Alex Dahl is a half-American, half-Norwegian author. Born in Oslo, she studied Russian and German linguistics with international studies, then went on to complete an MA in creative writing at Bath Spa University and an MSc in business management at Bath University. A committed Francophile, Alex loves to travel, and has so far lived in Moscow, Paris, Stuttgart, Sandefjord, Switzerland, Bath and London. Her first thriller, The Boy at the Door, was a Sunday Times Crime Club star pick and was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagge