by Talia Drake
Talia and Casey find a note from their Dad.
| Bang. Bang. Bang. Talia Drake jolted awake, panting from the recurring nightmare that haunted her dreams. She clutched her chest, trying to steady her breathing. She closed her eyes, telling herself once again, it had only been a dream. Bang. Bang. Bang. Without waiting for a reply, her twin brother Casey walked in, pushing his shaggy dark hair away from his dark eyes. He had that sleepy look as if he had just woken up from a peaceful dream. Casey looked around the room without taking a step. The piles of clothes and scattered books made it almost impossible for him to move anywhere in Talia's room. He let out a sigh, debating whether or not to attempt to cross the room.
“You are not as funny as you think you are Case.” Talia groaned, watching with the same brown eyes as her brother over-dramatized his voyage across her room. She rolled her eyes as Casey started to pretend to trip over a stack of books.
“Help! Your room has claimed me. I will never see the outside world again!” Casey said in a strained voice as he grabbed his chest, with his other hand reaching out to his sister. Talia got up from her bed, and as she walked past Casey, she pushed on his forehead, causing him to topple over.
Leaving her twin to be devoured by her war zone of a room, Talia made her way to the kitchen of their three-bedroom apartment. Expecting to find her father sitting at the kitchen table in his green robe, with his ridiculous over-worn slippers, reading the Times. He would be criticizing every bit of the paper, from the headline to whoever wrote today's crossword. In his place, however, was a folded piece of paper. Talia and Casey were written across the note in her father's handwriting. Talia stared at it, confusion mixed with uneasiness spread through her body.
In that moment, with his impeccable timing, Casey strolled into the kitchen. He was wearing his pre-worn out jeans, and a navy blue sweater that read "Bayside Commodore's" across the chest in gold. His hair remained the tedious mess it always was, unfamiliar with what a comb was. He lazily grabbed a bowl from the cupboard and his box of Captain Crunch. He slumped down in the chair next to Talia, pouring his cereal. Talia rolled her eyes at him once again.
"Just because you think it is weird, does not mean it is," Casey told his sister as he spooned dry cereal into his mouth.
"I just don't see why you bother with the bowl and spoon."
"It's more civilized." Casey stuck his pinky in the air with his next spoonful. Talia sighed and looked down at the note once more.
"Dad left this." she held up the note for Casey to see.
"What does it say?" Casey mumbled through a mouthful of cereal, showing no concern. Talia looked at him in disgust.
"I haven't opened it yet."
"Well, why not?"
"What if it's something... Something I don't want to read." Sighing, Casey took the note from Talia.
"Then I'll open it. You worry too much." His eyes darted across the page but gave no sign as to what the note could be about, or how he felt about its contents. He finished, setting the note down on the table, his expression remained blank. A few moments passed, and Casey avoided his sister's questioning gaze. He looked out the balcony window, his thoughts distant. Finally, Talia couldn't take it anymore.
"Well?" Talia asked, trying to keep the panic out of her voice. Casey just sat there, staring vacantly out the window.
"He's gone, Tal." She could tell Casey was trying to keep his voice from shaking, and he was trying to hold back his tears. Talia felt a lump form in the back of her throat, and butterflies found their way into her stomach.
"What do you mean he's gone?" She stammered, desperately wishing this was one of Casey's stupid jokes. Casey rubbed his eyes with his thumb and index finger, still trying not to tear up. He couldn't bring himself to tell her. Their father was not only their only real parental figure but their best friend. He had always been there for them. For seventeen years he had not missed one game, recital, talent show or competition. With him gone, they had no one. Their mother was almost always away on business. They rarely saw her; she was more of a relative that you would see once or twice a year at big family events, than a mother. She was a business representative for some major company. The name didn't really matter to them, why would it? She was but a shadow in their lives. Their father, Alaistair Drake, was an entirely different story. He had raised them and their little brother, Owen, from the time he was born. Their mother financially supported the family; they lived in an upscale apartment in Queens and had been very fortunate. As his children's only real parent, Alaistair worked as a history teacher at Bayside Highschool, where Talia and Casey attended school. This was nothing but a passion for him. He loved the history of New York and dedicated his life to inspiring others of its rich history and importance. Talia and Casey admired their father for his passion; never before had they seen someone who worked as hard as he did while enjoying every moment life had to offer him.
Casey slowly handed the note to his sister, "You had better just read it for yourself."
Talia's hand shook as she began to read the note;
My dearest children,
I cannot begin to describe how awful a feeling it is to write these words to you. This is undoubtedly the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I hope that one day you will be able to, if not forgive me, then understand that this had to be done.
I must go. For how long, I don't know. This will not be permanent, however, I cannot disclose my whereabouts. Please do not come looking for me. I cannot be found, nor do I wish to be.
I love you both with all my heart,
Talia looked up at her brother, tears ready to pour down her face. Casey turned and walked out onto their apartment terrace. He stood looking at the busy New York landscape. People going about their business, with their own lives and problems. Millions of people rushing around and just looking down on them, it is difficult to picture their lives. Casey stood there trying to understand how they could all be down there, while his world was falling apart. He bit his lip, fighting back the tears. He wouldn't cry, he had to be strong. His sister was in the kitchen falling apart. It was just them, and he knew how she could be. She was not weak; she was by far the strongest person he knew. She felt everything for everyone. Since they were young, her compassion astounded everyone around her. There were times he could have sworn that she could physically feel others pain. She had learned to handle this quite well. It was her own pain that was hard to bear. It was always their father who had helped her through all the pain. He's gone now, he bit back tears, and Talia needed him. Casey took a deep breath of the cool air, composed himself, and re-entered their kitchen. He stopped when he saw that Talia wasn't still sitting at the table. It took him a moment before he could hear her moving about in her room. Before he could move to her room, she briskly left her room holding her old hiking backpack. Without a word, she opened several cupboards grabbing granola bars, rice cakes, some apples, and two water bottles.
"Where do you think you're going?" Casey was dumbfounded at his sister's behavior.
"Gotta find dad." She said, continuing to rummage through cupboards for snacks.
"Talia stop. You're not going to find him by just wandering the streets of New York." Casey tried to reason. Talia's bag fell harshly to the ground, and she turned towards Casey with tears in her eyes.
"What do you expect me to do then? I am not going to just sit here while he's just gone! I can't do that Case." She yelled at him. This explosive behavior was something Casey had never seen in her. She just stared at him, breathing heavily.
"We could call Gran. It'd be better than just wandering around aimlessly and upset." Casey suggested.
"Gran's in New Haven. That's at least two hours from here, and she can't drive. How's that going to help?"
"I said 'call her', not go gallivanting over to her in a huff." Casey crossed his arms. Sometimes Talia could be a little dense.
"Yes I realize that, but what can she do over the phone. Our father is missing Casey, it's not like we let the cat out!" Talia grew increasingly frustrated with her brother, and his habit to treat her like a child.
"Maybe he confided in her as to where he is going, or what he's doing." Casey could see his sister realizing that maybe his plan was not so dumb after all.
"Fine, you call her." She picked up her bag and headed back to her room, in a huff from losing another argument with Casey. She slumped down on her bed, her bag dropping loudly to the ground. She heard a small sigh come from her door. Little Owen was standing there rubbing his sleepy eyes.
"What's wrong Tal?" he asked sweetly. Their little brother had lighter hair than the twins and light gray eyes. He had just turned 9 and was very short for his age. He still had his baby fat in his cheeks, making him look about 2 years younger.
"Nothing O, it's okay." She put on a barely brave face. She could barely understand what was going on, how was her baby brother supposed to deal with this. He walked over to her, ignoring the mess like a good brother should. Talia pulled him into a big hug. "You aren't ready for school little bear!" she started to tickle him and he squirmed in her arms until he broke free.
"Neither are you!" he retorted, sticking his tongue out at her.
"Fine, I'll race you. You better get going." With that, Owen scampered out of her room. Talia laughed to herself. He always cheered her up. That didn't last long, though. How on earth was she supposed to go to school with her father missing? Nothing is going to get done in your PJs, she told herself. She pulled her long brown hair out of its bun and changed into jeans, a maroon T-shirt, and her faux-leather jacket. She quickly put on some simple make - brown smoky eyeshadow, some mascara, and blush. She put her laptop, a pen, and her notebook into her backpack and slipped into her black Chelsea booties. Dad would want her to go to school, and as much as she hated to admit it, Casey was right. Running all over New York with no information on where he could be was not going to do her or her family any good. She opened her bedroom door to Casey about to knock. Of course, he lightly knocked on her forehead, making hollow sounds.
"Once again, you are not funny," Talia told him, annoyed.
"Yes I am, you just don't appreciate comedy," Casey smirked. "I just got off the phone with Gran."
"She said not to worry, he probably heard of a story he wanted to follow. You know how dramatic he can get about stuff like that, and a number of letters he's written to the Times." This did nothing to ease her worries. It still did not sound like her father.
"Fine, we have to get Owen to school anyways." She brushed past her brother, hoping adding some normal to this mess of a morning would help her feel better. It did not.