Amusement Park – 3

Last week, we left Jennifer on her way back to the amusement park after searching at home for her seven-year-old little sister who had mysteriously disappeared off the roller coaster ride. The owner of the amusement park, Mr. Parker, had recruited the other workers to help search for the little girl. Jennifer is just arriving back at the park. Let’s see if anyone has found Emily yet.

***

The look on Mr. Parker’s face told me they hadn’t found her yet. I shoved the cell phone back in his hand and muttered. “Thanks, Mr. Parker. Emily wasn’t there.”

Mr. Parker narrowed his eyes at me. “Where is your mother, young lady? She should be here.”

I cast my eyes to the ground. “She was out.”

“Well, no matter. Put your thinking cap on. What is Emily’s favorite part of the park?”

“She loves the hall of mirrors. She goes every chance she gets.”

“Then, let’s go look there.”

hall-of-mirrors

I walked alongside the man who had shown nothing but kindness. Tears threatened to spill, and I blinked hard.

“Why do I have a feeling there is something you aren’t telling me, Jennifer?” He asked.

“I don’t know sir.” I picked up the pace and walked a few steps in front of him, reaching the Hall of Mirrors first. I stepped inside and called out. “Emily. Emily Ann, where are you? If you’re hiding you better come out right now or you’re in big trouble.”

The only response was a slight echo. I rushed through, not taking time to glance at my reflection in the mirrors that made Emmy giggle so. I just had to find her.

Mr. Parker’s phone jangled causing me to jump. “Hello,” he said. “Yeah, okay. We’ll be right there.”

“Did someone find her?” I tugged on his arm.

“It was Mickey. He just said to come quickly to the spooky tunnel. Let’s go.”

I didn’t wait for him. I ran as fast as I could through the maze of mirrors out into the fading sunlight and didn’t slow down until I reached the mouth of the darkened tunnel. My stomach turned a thousand summersaults.

Spook-Cars-edited

Mickey slouched against the opening of the darkened tunnel.

“Did you find her?”

He passed me his flashlight and motioned inside. I didn’t wait for him or Mr. Parker. I ran screaming. “Emily! Emmy! Where are you?”

“Sh,” A soft voice replied. “You’re gonna scare them.”

I didn’t exhale until I reached Emily. She sat on the ground deep in the tunnel with a tabby mama cat and a passel of kittens on her lap.

“Look, Jen.” She grinned up at me. “Aren’t they adorable? Can we take them home with us? Huh? Can we?”

I wrapped my arms around my little sister and wept into her soft brown hair. “Oh, Emmy. You scared me so bad. Why didn’t you tell me where you were going? We’ve looked all over and now Mr. Parker has had to pay everyone extra to stay and look for you.”

“But, I didn’t have time to tell you.” She stared at me with wide blue eyes. “I had to follow Miss Daisy and she wouldn’t wait. She needed my help.”

The mangy cat blinked her yellow-green eyes at me and meowed as if to confirm everything Emily said.

Tabby

Mr. Parker and Mickey reached us together.

“You gave us quite a scare, young lady,” Mr. Parker said with a deep stern voice.

“I’m sorry.” Emily’s bottom lip quivered. “I just had to help Miss Daisy.”

Mr. Parker replied, “Come on. We need to let the others know and call off the search.”

Emily stubbornly refused to stand up.

“Mr. Parker, you can go. I’ll deal with Emily and these cats.” I couldn’t stand to put him out any more than I already had. “And, sir, you can take out of my wages whatever you need to pay the others for staying.”

He laid a hand on my shoulder. “That won’t be necessary, Jennifer, but you are going to have to leave your little sister at home from now on when you come to work.”

I stared at the ground. “Yes, sir.”

As soon as they were gone, I dropped down beside my sister. “Oh, Emmy, you still don’t know what a problem you made, do you?”

“I didn’t mean to upset you and Mr. Parker. I just had to help Miss Daisy. She came and got me off the roller coaster when it stopped on the big curve.”

I smoothed back her hair. “I understand, but you can’t just disappear like that. If they had called the police, we’d both be in big trouble. You wouldn’t want us to be taken away and put in strange homes, would you?”

Tears welled up in her eyes. “No, Jenny. I wouldn’t want that at all.”

“Then you can’t just be disappearing without telling me, no matter what. Understand?”

Emily nodded and swiped at her nose.

“Well come on, then. We have to go. The park is closed.”

“But what about Miss Daisy and her kittens?”

“I’ll go find a box and we can take them with us. But, we have to go.”

Emily reached for my hand. “Thank you, Jenny.”

The cat meowed again.

What on earth was I going to do with more mouths to feed?

**This is NOT the end. I have lots more problems planned for these two girls. But, now that we’ve found Emily,  I am going to pull it off my blog and turn it into a YA novella. I hope I have enticed you enough with this opening to want to read more about Jennifer and Emily.**

Amusement Park – 3

If you’ve just tuned in for this story, you can find segments 1 and 2 in my archives. I post a new episode every Sunday. This story is a writing exercise for me on two levels. I am writing it in first person (I hardly ever do that) and I am working on ways to make horrible things happen to my characters (which I struggle with.)

Last week, Mr. Parker had rounded up all the employees who were still in the park and organized a search for six-year-old Emily who seems to have disappeared off the roller coaster ride earlier. Her older sister, Jennifer, is panicked. She is responsible for her sister. Let’s head to the amusement park and see what’s going on.

***

I half-listened as Mr. Parker assigned each man a different area of the park to search.

Fear gnawed at my gut. Time was wasting. I had to do something.

Finally, he turned to me. “Jennifer, I know this is not what you want to do, but I need you to check at home and see if Emily might have gone back there. And bring your mother with you when you return.” He shoved a cell phone into my hands. “I’ll call you if we find her.”

I nodded and dashed out the gate. I ran like the wind to our two-story wood-frame house six blocks over. I suppose she could have gotten bored and walked home.

What would I tell Mr. Parker when I returned without our mother? Bitterness arose in my throat. I couldn’t even say the word without feeling angry and sick.

No real mother would take off with some strange man and leave her fourteen and six-year-old daughters to fend for themselves without so much as a fare-you-well. She’d been gone for over six months this time. It didn’t matter much that old lady Jobe lived in the house. At 93, she was blind and almost totally deaf. She depended on me to help her with the smallest of tasks. But, she paid her rent every month and that kept the lights on.

“Oh, Emmy, where are you?” This could get really messy. Attention was the one thing I’d managed to avoid until now. I couldn’t lose Emmy. I just couldn’t, and I wouldn’t let them put us off in some strange foster home.

If nothing else, the woman who called herself my mother had taught me to lie…and lie I would.

I reached the front door out of breath and shoved it open screaming. “Emily! Emily, are you here?”

Old lady Jobe stirred in her chair. I shook her and yelled in her ear. “Have you seen Emily?”

“Huh?” the old lady looked dazed and confused.

“Emily,” I repeated. “Has she been here?”

“I don’t think so, child. What’s wrong?”

It took less than two minutes for me to scour every room in the house. Emily wasn’t there.

Without another word, I ran back to the amusement park. Maybe they’d found her by now.

Oh, if only our papa hadn’t gotten killed. None of this would be happening. Tears flowed as I remembered his strong arms around me in the warmest bear hug. Had it already been two years? Emily barely remembered him. It was after that our mother quit caring about anything or anyone but herself. I didn’t mind that she’d left. I’d been taking care of everything anyway.

From that day forward, it fell on my shoulders to take care of Emily and now I’d failed.

I sprinted through the amusement park gates.

To Be Continued…

 

Amusement Park – Part 2

Last week I started a new story and introduced you to a young girl in a panic because she cannot find her little sister. We don’t know much about these two girls yet except they appear to be on their own without parents. The setting is a small amusement park. Let’s check in and they have found Emily.

***

A rough callused hand grabbed my arm. “Hey! Slow down there, girlie. Where’s the fire?” Mr. Simpson had been the grounds caretaker since the amusement park opened, and that must have been at least fifty years ago. He’d always spoken kindly to me. But, right now, I didn’t trust anyone. Rheumy eyes stared down at me.

Rheumy_eyes_at_91

My breath came in ragged gasps. “It’s my little sister, Mr. Simpson. I can’t find her.”

“There, there.” He patted the top of my head. “She has to be here somewhere. Maybe she fell asleep.”

“I’m afraid something happened to her. Maybe she fell out of a ride and hit her head or what if someone took her?” I choked back tears.

“No need to think the worst, Jenny girl. Let’s go talk to Mr. Parker.”

I nodded.

“Come on now,” he prodded me. “Runnin’ around here helter skelter ain’t gonna do you or her any good.”

The old man moved like cold molasses and I resisted the urge to scream. Time was wasting. My gut told me Emmy was in trouble. I always trusted my gut.

But, I matched my steps with his shuffling feet while my eyes darted right and left looking for any tell-tale sign of Emmy.

We finally reached the office and I rushed inside. Cool air relieved my flushed face.

Mr. Parker sat behind his computer pinching the bridge of his nose. He looked up with kindly blue eyes. “What is it, Jennifer? Is something wrong.”

“Oh, Mr. Parker,” I blurted. “I brought Emily to work with me today and kept an eye on her until right before closing when it got busy. Now I can find her anywhere.” I brushed tears away with the back of my hand.

He pushed his chair back and stood. “Otis, who’s still here?”

“I saw Darren, Tom, Mickey, and Bart a few minutes ago,” Mr. Simpson replied.

“Go gather them up. No one leaves until we find the girl.”

Mr. Simpson nodded and shuffled away.

“Don’t worry, honey. ”  Mr. Parker put a hand on my shoulder and steered me toward the door. “Now, where was the last place anyone saw her?”

I quickly told him everything I knew.

“No one goes home today until we find her,” he declared. “We’ll search every inch of this place.”

Nothing would stop my heart from pounding until we found Emmy safe and sound. I’d never considered any of the guys that worked there dangerous or possibly pedophiles.

Had I been wrong? What had I done to jeopardize the only blood kin I had left in the world? Oh, God! What had I let happen to Emmy?

Amusement Park – Part 1

Pixieland-Amusement-Park-Entrance

“Emily!” I yelled. “Emmy! It’s time to go home. Come on out wherever you are. The game’s over.”

She must be playing hide-and-seek with me like she did the other day in the grocery store. My patience was growing thin. I knew I shouldn’t have let her talk me into bringing her with me today. But, she begged and pleaded and said how much she hated staying with old lady Jobe on Saturdays while I tried to earn enough money to feed us.

Mr. Parker, the owner of Pixieland amusement park, had been generous enough to give me a job, even knowing I wasn’t old enough to work. Truth be told, I’m sure he felt sorry for me. Such a young girl on her own trying to take care of her little sister.

“Emmy! Where are you?” I looked under the empty chairs on the tilt-a-whirl then moved on to the carousel, sure she was hiding behind one of the horses or benches. She’d jump out any minute and yell “boo!” Then she’d giggle and I’d reprimand her for hiding and scaring me.

Sweat trickled down the back of my neck and my stomach growled. Funny how the atmosphere of the park changed when all the laughter from children was gone. I shivered in spite of the heat. Where was she? This game wasn’t funny anymore.

“Tom, have you seen my little sister anywhere?”

Tom methodically wiped down the safety bars on the rollercoaster. He was an odd man, tall and thin with a full beard and black mustache that curled at the sides of his mouth. He had a habit of chewing on it. Mr. Parker seemed to collect strays.

He never looked up. “Saw her get on the roller coaster.”

“Okay,” I said. “Did you see where she went when she got off?”

“Nope.” He paused and sprayed Lysol on a rag. “Didn’t get off.”

My heart pounded. “What do you mean she didn’t get off? She’s only six years old. She couldn’t just jump off. Are you sure she got on it?”

Tom nodded. “Yep. I’m sure. Wasn’t on it when it came back around.”

My hands shook. “And you didn’t bother to say anything to me? She could be hurt or…”

I couldn’t even say the words.

I took off running. The soles of my shoes pounded against the planks beside the Wooden Warrior keeping rhythm with my heart. “Emily,” I screamed. “Emmy! Where are you?”

wooden-warrior-roller

Thanks for tuning for the first episode of “Amusement Park.” I’ll put up a new segment every Sunday.