What happens when a little girl disappears?
|By the time they found her she had fallen into a deep sleep. A sleep induced from hours of wandering aimlessly through the forest chasing that deer until she had tripped on a rock and lain there sobbing from the sheer hopelessness of her situation. The fear didn't leave until her body gave way and her eyes wouldn't stay open any more.
Two days earlier: John and Maureen were in a state of panic! What happened to their daughter, Denise. Seven years old, a child of their own loins. A child they should have protected. This was too much to bear.
That last day. This is what they called it, “the last day”, the day Denise disappeared. Each of them had a different vision in their mind of her, all trying desperately to remember every little detail. What she was wearing, what she had been doing in those critical hours before she was gone. Gone like a flash of lightening that strikes quickly, then nothing. Each of them had a sense of guilt; they should have been more observant; should have kept closer watch; should remember something. Oh why can't they remember something that would help. Why can't they find her. Why, why, why!!!
That day the family of four had been enjoying their vacation; glad to be away from the city a bit before school would start in a couple weeks.
John and 10 year old Colin, had crawled out of their tent just when the sun was beginning to rise. John kissed his wife goodbye; she gave a sleepy peck back, then turned on her side, wrapping up in the comfy sleeping bag for more shuteye before Denise woke and cajoled her into getting up.
“Mom, Mom, wake up!” Denise, still in her sleeping bag, was poking Maureen with her foot.
With a grunt, Maureen opened one eye. “Hi hon, how long have you been awake? I fell asleep.”
“Silly Mom,” laughed Denise. “Your hair is sticking up all over.”
Maureen smiled and ran a hand over her messy hair. “Come here you.”
Denise crawled over and laid down by her. “Are you having fun here?” Maureen asked.
Denise shook her head, long brown hair tickling Maureen's nose. “I like it here mommy, let's stay forever.”
“We can't stay forever, you have to go to school; Daddy has to go back to work.”
“Oh darn,” replied Denise, wrinkling up her button nose. “Where are Daddy and Colin?”
“They got up very early and went fishing.”
“Fishing? Why didn't they take me?”
“They didn't want to wake you up.”
“I wouldn't have cared.” “Wait til I see Colin, he's gonna get it.”
“Maybe we could get a fire started and have breakfast ready by the time they come back. That's something Colin doesn't get to do, only big girls like you.”
“OK Mommy, and I'll tell Colin only girls can cook. Right Mommy?”
“That's right hon. Come on, let's get started, what do you say?”
Soon John and Colin were slowly sauntering back to camp with a string of fish. Colin was holding the silvery, wet, glistening string of fish like a trophy. Their smiles could have been captured in a magazine they were so proud of themselves. Denise stood by the campfire with her hand on her hip, her bottom lip pursed out.”
John, laughing, said “What wrong with you?”
“I'm mad at you,” she retorted.
“Mad at me, why?”
“You left me, but I helped Mommy make breakfast and Colin can't cause he's a boy.”
John scooped her up in his big arms and kissed her on the cheek. “You made all this food for us?”
“Yup,” she smiled proudly.
John winked at Maureen then set Denise down. They filled their plates and consumed breakfast; John and Colin talking about fishing; Denise interrupting, not to be left out.
“Great breakfast,” John said. “We're gonna go and clean the fish now.
“Can I go, can I, please,” whimpered Denise.
“Of course you can, come on little one.”
They left, one marching behind the other, and Maureen was alone. She watched them as they disappeared behind the hall where fish cleaning was done, then she set about tidying up the camp.
It wasn't long until they were back with bags of fish which were packed into an ice cooler for supper.
“It was gross, Mommy,” shouted Denise.
“It was?” How about we take our chairs and towels down to the beach and dip our toes in the water for a while?”
Off they went to the lake where other families were gathering for a day in the sun. Soon Colin and Denise were mingling with other children. Maureen made them put on their life vests, then she put oil on her body and lay back listening to the sounds of play the children were making in the water.
Later in the day, tired from all the exercise, the children stated they were hungry. They packed up their belongings and headed back to camp. John made a fire and Maureen fixed side dishes to go with their fish. Denise and Colin, each with their own set of friends, were nearby quietly playing.
And then, a scream!
“John, John, Colin, Someone. I can't find Denise, I can't find her!”
John, who had been conversing with a nearby camper, came running. “What, what is is Maureen, what's wrong?”
“I can't find her John, I can't find her, help me, I can't find Denise.”
John looked across the way, then said, “But she was right over there with the other children, did you ask them? Maureen, look at me, did you ask them?”
“Yes, yes John, I asked them, they don't know. Oh my God, John, they don't know, no one does.”
The search began.