Lost and Found

May 21, 2012
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“She’s gone and she won’t be coming back. Right?” sobbed Sara.

“Yup that’s right. Now we’re moving into Aunt Ester’s house.” I said trying to calm my sister.

“Why Aunt Ester? Why not Dad or Aunt Laurine? Anyone but Aunt Ester would be better.” Sara said.

“You know very well why we can’t go to Dad. He’s not even sober enough for us to visit.” I said raising my voice slightly.

“I know,” squeaked Sara, “but why Aunt Ester?” she said.

“I don’t know why it’s just who mom left us with in the will.” I said trying not to think about my recently deceased mother. “Let’s get going. Put your stuff in the car and say goodbye to the house.”

“Kay.” Sara said almost inaudible.

It’s been a week since our mother died and in those long, agonizing days we pack our stuff from our home in Webster City, Iowa and moved into our new home with our ancient aunt in Holland, Michigan. It has been really hard on my five year old sister Sara, who as we speak, is in the back seat of my car with her teddy bear sleeping. Her legs tucked under her, with her red dress scrunched up, and her flip flops on the floor. I wonder what she’s dreaming about. Mom? Unicorns, maybe? Hopefully it’s something happy. She’s been so depressed this past week, I just want to see her laughing and smiling like normal.

“Look at the lake Josh.” She said almost scaring me.

“Yeah I see it. It’s been a long ride do you want to stop to get something to eat?” I asked her.

“Nah, let’s just get to the house, this car’s getting stuffy.” Sara said to me before she drifted back to sleep.

I don’t know what to do to make her happy again. Moving surely wasn’t it. Look there’s the house. It’s big I guess, enough room for Sara to run around. She should like it; it’s pink, just like her favorite color. It’s old too, probably needs some work but it’ll be fine for the next year until I turn eighteen and I take her away to somewhere where she will be happy again. Cats swarm the car as I pull into the driveway of Aunt Ester’s, our new home.

“Wake up little monkey.” I tell Sara as I shake her lightly.

“I was never asleep.” she said.

“O.k. then, let’s get our stuff into the house and then you can actually sleep.” I said reassuring my sister that she will actually be able to sleep tonight.

We got our stuff and started walking up the driveway to the step leading to the door of the old, pink house. The cats moved when I walked but when I turned around all the cats were surrounding her. I walk back to her and pick her and her bags up and carry her to the steps. As I take my first step onto the stairs the door creaked open and out walked Aunt Ester carrying a creepy looking Siamese cat.

“Hello children I have been waiting for your arrival all week.” Aunt Ester said as Sara dug her face into my shoulder.

“Hi Aunt Ester, it’s so nice of you to welcome us to your home, we really appreciate it.” I said setting Sara down and nudging her to say hello.
“Well, yes I guess it is nice of me. How are you little Sara?” Aunt Ester said.
“Fine.” Sara said looking and her feet not wanting to speak with her great-aunt.
“Well that’s good,” Aunt Ester said motioning us into the house, “shall we?”
“I guess.” I said nudging Sara to walk into the house.
You know that smell in old people’s houses that you can’t really describe? Yeah that’s what went up my nose as I walked into the outdated living room. The wall paper was pink as was all the couch and recliner. There were also cat statuettes everywhere.
“You really like cats and pink don’t you?” I asked.
“You would think so but the truth is I don’t really like them at all.” Aunt Ester said showing us to our rooms. “Joshua your room is right here and Sara your room is right across the hall from his.”
Walking into my room with all the bags and Sara clinging on to my shirt almost caused me to fall on my face as I opened the door. My stuff didn’t take long to unpack so I went over to my bed where Sara and her teddy bear were sitting.
“You want to go over to your room and unpack?” I asked her.
“Sure.” She replied hopping off the bed and walking across the hall to her room.
Her room was similar to mine, small brown flooring, white walls, containing a closet, bed, nightstand, and lamp.
“It’s just like yours Josh.” She said almost happy.
“Yup, do you like it?” I asked her while setting her bags on the floor.
“It’s alright I guess. It’s nothing compared to my old room though.” She said as she climbed onto her bed.
“No but it’s alright.” I told her.
“Yeah.” Sara said.
“Let’s go to bed.” I said as I tucked her and her teddy bear into bed.
“Night Josh.” She said just loud enough for me to hear it.
“Night Sara.” I said walking out of her room and across the hall to mine.
As I closed my door and walked to my bed, my phone rang. Unknown number is wehwta my screen says.
I answered, “Hello?”… static … “Hello?”… more static… “Is anyone there?”… even more static and phone hangs up.
“That was weird.” I said as I climbed into my bed.
The next morning Sara and I woke up and went down stairs to find Aunt Ester gone. We went through the day as my usually would on any other summer day. Once we had eaten dinner and washed up the dishes we started to wonder where Aunt Ester might be. The next two days went on without a word from Aunt Ester and I kept getting the static phone calls every night. On the fourth day Aunt Ester still hadn’t tried to reach us in any way so we decided that we would report her missing.
“Do you think they will ever find her?” Sara asked me as we were eating breakfast one day.
“I don’t know, maybe.” I replied
“I hope they do. Sure she was annoying but she’s family and I kind of miss her.” Sara told me.
“Me too Sara, me too.” I said quietly.
The next day the police came to ask us some questions related to the disappearance of our great-aunt. After an hour or so after the policeman had left I had the feeling that we were not alone in the house, that there was someone watching us closely. I then decided that it was time for bed and since I hadn’t left Sara alone since Aunt Ester had gone missing, she climbed into bed with me. As I pulled the sheets to our chests my phone began to ring.
“Who is it Josh?” she asked in her worry tone.
“It’s an unknown number.” I said as I pressed the ignore button.
“Why didn’t you answer?” she asked me.
“Because it’s unknown.” I told her as I check the voicemail they had left.
My mouth drops open and my phone falls to the floor as the only word that comes out of my phone is “help!” Once we had woken up I called the police and played the voicemail for them. They had left as puzzled as I had been when I got it. The day goes on and we just sit at the table playing cards when the doorbell rang. I answered the door and everything seemed to make sense at that point.
“Dad.” I said as a drunken, middle-aged man walks into our house carrying a limp Aunt Ester in his arms. “What have you done?”
“I got you kids back.” My father said as he grabbed Sara and then me by the shoulders and pushed us out the door.
I thought to myself as I hugged Sara tightly trying to keep her safe as my dad whipped around the corner and we flew around the back of his van. I had lost my mother and my great-aunt but I had found my poor, drunk, unfit father. How are we going to make it with him for the next year?
“I’m scared Josh.” Sara said to me as she cried into my shoulder.
“So am I Sara.” I told her hugging her tighter.
“I got you kids back.” My dad said as he whipped around another corner and flipped the van.
“I got you kids back.” Is the last thing I heard before I woke up only to find Sara sitting in a chair across from me.
“Where am I? What happened? Where’s dad?” I asked all at once.
“You’re in the hospital, Dad had flipped the van, and Dad… he’s dead.” Sara said crying.
“Oh.” Is the only thing that escaped my mouth as I fell back into unconsciousness.

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