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…