The fifteen-year-old girl with long brown hair walked over to the great outer wall of the store while her dad pulled a plastic bag out of the shopping cart and wheeled the cart over to the greeter. Dad wound up talking to the greeter about the unusual weather they’d been having, and the girl, not entertained by the conversation and with nothing better to do, had wandered over to look at the dozens of pictures hanging on the brick wall in the cold entryway. She’d walked by this same wall hundreds of times before and hadn’t really looked at it—the wall was background like so many other things in her life.
But today it caught her eye. Without emotion, she registered that these were pictures of missing children. She heard dad behind her tell the older woman that the lows this winter were breaking records all over the state while she started reading some of the details on the pictures. One picture framed in glass showed a little baby boy with dark hair and next to that picture was a digitally enhanced photo meant to show what he might look like today. It listed his DOB and vital statistics, his Age Now, and told where he had last been seen.
The girl moved to the next picture and the next as she heard her father switch gears and begin talking about snowfall. The greeter continued to greet people, probably only half listening to dad like most other polite people did, the girl thought. The next picture made the girl feel as if someone were nudging her side with an elbow. She stared at the picture for a few moments, one of a young girl whose picture was taken when the child was in kindergarten. Below her picture, the caption announced the child’s name as “DANIKA ELIZABETH HODGES.” Little Danika had a quick smile, sparkling eyes, and shiny brown shoulder-length hair. The girl squinted her eyes at little Danika. She was certain she had known this girl at one time.
Her dad’s voice beside her almost made her jump. “Time to go, Beth.” The girl couldn’t help but catch how the eyes reflected in the glass were the same shape as the ones in the picture but quickly forgot as she slipped her hand in dad’s empty one and walked out the sliding door to the parking lot.
Motivation: A while back, I heard that a majority of abducted children are taken by people they know, most often an estranged parent. I wanted to explore that idea, particularly from the child's point of view.
BIO! I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. I love to write, whether it’s poetry, flash fiction, novels, or nonfiction. I’ve had a modicum of success, enough to keep me encouraged but little enough to keep me humble. I have an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing, and I teach Composition and Creative Writing for Pueblo Community College in Colorado. I am married with four children, and they keep me quite busy, but not so busy that I don’t have time to write!