Missing Pieces

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On the faded patchwork quilt lays the journal. It is a dusty, leather journal that has been in our family for generations. This journal has been passed down to the first born child of every family, who would write just one story down: the greatest adventure or experience they have ever had. Come to think of it, I remember counting once and I believe there were seven stories in that journal, so it must have been in our family for seven generations. Well, eight if you count me. Yes, this is my journal now. There are many great stories in that journal about heroic deeds and great adventures. All my relatives ask me if I will ever put in a story. “I wish someone else had gotten the journal. This girl hides from adventure like it’s death itself!” my aunt Maggie always used to say. “In good time” I would convince her, but I am not convinced myself that I will ever have a story for that journal. I am a forty year old woman named Jane Dark, who stays as far away from danger as I possibly can. I would rather just stay in my isolated little house and play internet solitaire. My house is not appealing to the eye, but it is cozy. It is a small brown cottage with pale blue shutters and a red brick chimney that always has tufts of smoke billowing from the top of it. Although it could use another coat of paint and some roof repairs, it is the place where I grew up so it has memories. I have curly brown hair and people say that I always carry a tired expression on my face. I also have bright blue eyes and very pale skin from mostly working inside our yard surrounded by trees that cast a shadow on our property. My look is far from updated, which my family often scolds me for, and I only have one pair of shoes. Some people would call me unkempt and odd, but I believe that a simple way of life suits me best. I am currently unemployed and have an eight year old son named Cameron. My husband and I adopted him when he was only three months old. When Cameron was six years old, my husband suddenly went missing and has yet to be found. I kept hope for two years after his disappearance, but the case became cold. There was no named explanation for his disappearance, which made the situation even more out of the ordinary. After my husband disappeared, my son was distraught. Cameron was extremely close to my husband. I sometimes wondered if he was closer to my husband than I was. Every Sunday, father and son went down to the creek and fished for hours. They always used to tell jokes and have a great time. They stayed out there until I called them in for dinner. After my husband disappeared, Cameron went into a state of depression. He would spend days locked up in his room calling nearly every number in the phone book to try to find his dad. When I finally lured him out of his room, he did not speak to me, because he thought I was the reason that his dad left. Well, the years passed and I returned to living my life as normally as possible, but Cameron never moved on. His personality darkened a great deal. The sweet, funny little boy I used to love to be around turned into a terrible person to live with. He drove all of his friends away and started getting into trouble at school. Pretty soon, he caused so much trouble that he was expelled. The principal suggested that I home school him, so I gave it a try. The first couple of weeks went pretty smoothly, but truth be told, Cameron was like a hawk looking for innocent mice to feed on. Every moment he is looking for a weakness he sees in another person and he is quick to attack. Home-schooling Cameron was just as painful for me as it was for him, especially now that he is almost nine years old. We spend all of our days isolated in our little cabin that is so far into the woods, you would not even know it’s there. I like the privacy, but sometimes I am nervous with no neighbors around. I have thought about taking Cameron to see a doctor a million times because he is so unstable. I am frightened that one day he will come after me. I am very nice to him all of the time, but the favor is not returned. Today is Saturday, so I do not have to teach Cameron any lessons. I look forward to the weekend very much, because I can let my son to do whatever he wants, but today I am trying something different. “Do you want to go to an amusement park with me today? It will be very exciting!” I offer him. “No” he replies very rudely and stomps upstairs to his dark and musty room as usual. “It would be good for you to get some fresh air and have fun!” I call after him. I listen for a response, but there is nothing but silence. “Ok here I go”, I think. “I am going to go into his room and insist he comes.” Without even knocking on the door, I confidently grab the door handle and boldly yank the door open. As I enter, the first thing I see is the messiest room I can ever have imagined. There are dirty clothes and weird objects strewn upon the floor and gruesome posters covering the walls. As I look around, to my horror, I see a collection of knives and guns. Before I can say anything about the state of his room, Cameron shouts, “Get out of my room you creep! You are just waiting for the day when you can frame me for something and throw me in jail! I hate you!” Then, without hesitation, he hastily throws a book at me and slams the door. I run into my room and lock the door, shocked as to what just happened. I flop onto my bed and imagine all of the horrifying things that were hidden in Cameron’s room. All this time I had pushed his problems aside, thinking that it was just a phase, but when I see the creepy things in his room, it hits me like an ocean wave collapsing over me and knocking me off my feet. My son has some serious and frightening issues. My son is as stealthy as a panther and as dark as ones deepest fears. Breathing heavily, I slowly pick up the phone and dial the number that I have been hesitating to call for years. “Hello. Can I please speak with Dr. Chang?” I ask with certain urgency in my voice. “One moment please,” the secretary replies. “Hello. This is Dr. Chang”, a deep voice says, “What seems to be the problem?” “Hi. My name is Jane Dark and I am calling about my son. He needs some help, um, can I schedule an appointment?” I ask. “Sure when is the best time for you?” he asks. “Tomorrow at any time. Please! It’s kind of urgent” I reply. “Ok, how is noon?” he asks. “That’s fine. Thanks.” I answer and with that hang up the phone.
When nighttime arrives, Cameron remains in his room, so I attempt to fall asleep, but sleep does not come. Fear clouds my mind with ugly thoughts. “What if he is out to harm people?” I think. As I am deep in thought, I realize that ever since he was homeschooled, he has only left the house under my supervision. “Where on earth could he have gotten all of those weapons? What if he has been sneaking out?” All this time I never went into his room to give him his privacy. Now I realize that he could be hurting people, stealing things, or worse. Right as this thought occurs to me, I know what I should do next. Without making a sound, I tiptoe across the carpeted floor in my room and creep up to Cameron’s door. I softly call my son’s name. There is no answer. I nervously put my hand on the cold and rusted doorknob and turn it. When I peek my head inside, I half know what to expect: a messy and room with no Cameron inside. I look out of the open window and I see a rope ladder dangling from the window. Of course, by my motherly nature I decide I need to find my son, so I hastily make the decision to climb out the window and down the coarse, filthy ladder. Jumping off the ladder, I then make a frantic dash towards the woods shouting “Cameron? Please come back home! Please?” Now I am wandering aimlessly through the woods. I don’t think I will ever find Cameron in the dark woods. “Wait! I see a light!” I say to myself. Now I am sprinting through the woods like a cheetah chasing after its prey when the light in the woods is extinguished. I am now enveloped in darkness. I want to shout out to my son, but fear is choking me. As I peer into the ominous night, the trees seem to scream to me “Turn back! Danger awaits!” With a sharp burst of bravado, I am charging into the woods where I thought I had seen the light. As I am dashing into the damp, musty woods, my foot gets caught on a root and I fall to the ground. My ankle bursts with throbbing pain and I let out a howl of agony. Then, as I am attempting to hoist my body off the ground, a large and sweaty hand slaps itself on my mouth and pulls me back down to the rocky earth. I writhe in fright and I try to let out a cry for help, but it is no use. I am as weak and helpless as a newborn baby. I try to think of a way I can escape but panic clouds my mind. Then I hear a familiar laugh. It is a distinctive laugh like that of a hyena. “Jerry?” I attempt to say despite my muffled voice. “I’m surprised that you still recognize my laugh after all these years, Jane. Oh, looking for something?” the man says. Then he releases his grip and sits me up. Then, out of the dense shrubbery comes my boy, Cameron. I have so many questions as to why my husband and my disobedient son are here in the woods at night. Then I see it: a beat-up case full of weapons and bag bursting with money. “What is the meaning of this?” I angrily question. Before anyone can answer my question, Jerry instructs Cameron to bind me up. Cameron ties my hands behind my back and around my ankles. “Why are you tying me up?” I wonder aloud. “Because you are a threat to us,” Jerry says “And I need Cameron to help me.” “Have you been stealing?” I ask nervously, but I know the answer from the look on my husband’s face. “I’m calling the police! Cameron, untie me now!” I demand. Cameron steps forward, but with one angry look from his father he sits down. I can tell by the distressed look in Cameron’s eyes that he does not want to help his father. Looking into those gentle, pleading eyes, I finally come to the realization that Cameron wasn’t disobedient or violent; he was just upset that his father was making him do something he didn’t want to do. He did not want to commit crimes, but he could not tell me, because Jerry knew I would report him. As I begin to say something, fear scolds me and shuts my mouth. I know I have to stand up to my husband, but I am too much of a coward and my husband knows this. “If I don’t stop them, Cameron will live a life of terrible crime and I do not want to lose my baby” I think. Then something inside me erupts like the explosion of a volcano; the thought of heartbreak and loss is giving me courage, something that I had long forgotten the feeling of. Without thinking my plan through, I attempt to stand up despite the bindings on my feet. To my surprise, when I stand up, the bindings simply slide down onto the ground like a snake slithering down to the earth. Cameron must have tied the bindings so they were loose! I then slip my hands out from the rope and square up to Jerry. “Oh I’m scared” he says in a mocking tone. With all the anger and new found courage bottled up inside of me, I reel my arm back and swing at his head. To my great surprise, the hit sends him tumbling backwards, which is my cue to get out of there. With my hand throbbing and my heart doing back flips, I make a mad dash through forest and straight into my house. Then, without hesitation or regret, I pick up the phone and dial 911. While I am explaining my story to them, a man pounds on the door. I decide to run upstairs and hide out on my roof. “The police should be arriving any moment now” I say to myself. “It wasn’t my fault mama.” a voice speaks out of the darkness. As I turn around, I see Cameron sitting on the roof with me. He is crying. “Dad made me break into people’s houses and take their money, but I didn’t want to. He threatened me and said if I told you or anyone else he would kill me and you, so I kept my distance from you, because you would have figured it out. I’m sorry I caused you so much pain” Cameron says. “I forgive you. It is ok. I won’t let the police take you away.” I reply. We sit on the roof for a few more minutes and then we hear the police sirens screaming and whining, disturbing the perfect stillness of the night. As Jerry hears the sirens, he flees into the woods, but when the police officers ask if I know where he went, I direct them towards the woods. After my husband is secure in jail, my heart feels lighter, and I could have sworn the air breathed a sigh of relief. Many days, then weeks, then months pass. My son Cameron and I are living a wonderful life. I sent Cameron back to school, where he is making many friends. My life is now filled with joy, and my son and I can finally spend time together. Since this is my biggest adventure, I decide to write it in the journal. I write about struggles and love and betrayal and standing up for what is right, but most of all, how I changed from a coward to a hero. A little courage can go a long way.





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