Missing Child

They are digging for you, fifteen minutes from where I now live, an hour away from my childhood home. I have been across the world since you went missing. I have had more than one marriage, more than one child. What have you had?

You are frozen in my mind. People see your picture, and they hear about how your mother describes you, but you were a child. You did not act like other thirteen year olds. We worried about you, us girls. We saw how you put on makeup, in a bold blue above your eyes, no subtlety, no deftness in the strokes, and we knew you were younger than us, in experience, no matter your age. You showed your immaturity, blatantly, and you were vulnerable. We wanted you to be safe, out of the city, not living with bad influences such as us.

You laughed a lot, had a million questions. Everything was novel, exciting. In pictures your hair looks so dark, but I saw it as blonde. One month younger than I. The last time I spoke to you I tried to convince you not to take risks. Not to run again, to put up boundaries and keep them, in terms you understood.

I called for you, as I normally did since getting home, daily. One day your mother hung up on me, hissing some rudeness into the phone. I was not used to adults being rude to me. I just wanted to talk to you. After the second time, days later, I gave up. A week later Christine called, told me you were on a milk carton, dated the day after I spoke last with you.

I went to school with your cousin Ann, coincidentally. She was a nice girl, smart, had a beautiful daughter who I was lucky enough to see at age five, long red hair, big eyes, happy and talkative. I hope they are well. I hope you can see them.

When I moved out of state, I called the police, every year, to see if there was news. I was afraid it would not make national, that you would be found, and I would not know. Now we have internet, databases, civilians trying to put two and two together where the police have not. I stopped calling, after ten years, and started checking the news online for your name. I thought you would be found. I did.

Even if they find you where they dig, you are not there. You are in the Bridge, in that summer of my heart. Where we made new friends. I will always be yours, I swear.

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