Missing Robert

March 30, 2009
Lacey Carter paced around her dull, off-white bedroom impatiently, as her sweaty hands gripped the phone.
Ugh! Why won't they call!
What if they don't find him?
What if he's-- he's dead?
Rob Daniels, Lacey's best friend since birth, had gone missing a week ago, and there had not bee n one sign of him. Lacey continued to pace.

* * * * *

Lacey sat alone, watching the entire eighth grade enjoy themselves by dancing on the Friday before winter break. Instead of trying to enjoy the winter formal dance like everyone else, she sat on the chairs pushed to the side of the gym, sipping her berry punch when Rob asked her to accompany him for the last dance.
"Madam, would you care to dance?" He asked her in a fake British accent as he held out his hand, looking as dashing as ever in his tie and tux.
Well I might as well; no one else has asked me to dance tonight.
Why not dance with my best friend.
Lacey jumped up from the uncomfortable metal chair and took his outstretched hand. She held tight to his shoulders with her clammy hands as they swayed along to the music as the DJ played "Iris" by the Goo Goo Dolls.
As the song faded, Rob leaned towards Lacey and pressed his warm lips gently against hers. Lacey pulled away and covered her mouth with the tips of her fingers in shock.
"Rob?" She asked dumbfounded. Rob's eyes started to swell up and even in the dimly lit gym; Lacey could see the water beginning to accumulate. But before they could brim over, he walked past her, embarrassed for what had just happened, and left the gym. Lacey moved slowly in his direction so she could apologize for rudely pulling away, but he was already gone.

Thre e days had passed by slowly. Lacey tried calling him for the first couple of days, but they only resulted in messages. But call after call, apology after apology, he never called back.
Was he really this upset that I rejected his kiss?
Just because I didn’t want to ruin our lifelong friendship by going further?
Those two nights were living hell for Lacey. She couldn’t sleep or eat; she was frustrated and worried.
What was wrong?
Why hasn’t he called back?
On the evening of the third night after the dance, Lacey received a call. Her mother picked up the home phone and handed it to Lacey mouthing the words, “Rob’s Mother.” ;
But it was not the call she had been waiting for.
Rob had gone missing.

Without thinking, she dropped the phone. The connection cut off, but Lacey stood shocked in horror and did not even notice. After one day of utter numbness from the news, Lacey came to her senses. She turned on her TV and stared at the broadcasters on the local news until she had found the subject she had been looking for. On the bottom of the screen as the newscast discussed the dramatic spike in gas prices, a banner of unimportant information—to the majority of people—skidded by.

“Thirteen-year-old boy gone missing, Robert Daniels. Local authorities say the last time he was spotted was on Saturday, December 19th. If yo u have any information, please call.”
A number flashed after the words had zoomed by too fast for any average viewer to read.
Why did they go by so fast! Someone who might have known something about Rob would have missed it!
* * * * *

Lacey continued to pace around her room an hour later, still gripping the phone.
Call, please!
Lacey collapsed on her bed and let out the tears that have been welling in her eyes. "Why, why, why! It's all my fault!" Lacey screamed into her pillow as it muffled the volume. Without warning, her mom stood in her doorway, taking in Lacey’s mournful appearance.
"Honey what's wrong?" She asked as she sat down and pulled Lacey onto her lap.
“Mom, it's all my fault!" Lacey sobbed, so hard she could barely choke out the words. Lacey's mom brushed her fingers through her long, brunette, spiral curls that protected her face from letting the world see her tears.
"No, no baby. I’m sure it’s not." Her mother coaxed.
Lacey rubbed the tears from her eyes as they fell onto her nose and laid back on her pillow, drifting off towards unconsciousness. Lacey slept for the next two days, without much break, tossing, turning, and having terrible nightmares. Monday came slowly, making its presence known, telling Lacey to wake up and enjoy the last week and a half of winter break . Her mother entered her room not long after Lacey’s blue eyes surveyed the room with a conscious gaze for the first time in a long time. Her mother brought a tray of eggs and bacon with her as she set it down on Lacey’s florid bedspread.
"Hello, Sweetheart. Feeling better?" Her mother greeted her as she went over to the phone on Lacey’s desk, checking the messages.
"Hey, Mom. Have you heard from them?" She asked in a horse voice, then cleared her throat and took a sip of her orange juice. Lacey's mom shook her head and kissed her forehead before beginning to shut her door. Instead of closing it completely, her mother turned around, faced her and whispered, “Oh and honey, Merry Christmas.”
Lacey laid in bed until noon, and then got up with a mission.
Today was Christmas and miracles do occur!
In Lacey’s dream last night, she had seen a place that Rob and she used to play in when they were younger. She clearly saw them playing cards and making up adventures in an old tree house that hid away in the east woods across town. Lacey threw on a pair of Levi’s and an old sweatshirt, flying down the stairs into her bright and cheerful kitchen.
"Hey, Mom. I’m gonna go out." Lacey said as she searched for her good pair of gym shoes. Lacey's mom smiled and wished her a good time, but to be back in time for Christmas dinner. Lacey ran out the back door, grabbed her lime BMX bike, and headed east.
He has to be there.
I know he’s alive.
I know he’s there!

Lacey rode for what seemed like forever until she reached an aged wooden gate, in the middle of nowhere, that lead to a large field of knee-high grass. Lacey dropped her bike and jumped over the fence, afraid to be the one to watch it fall apart. Lacey ran across the five acres, winning the race against her heart beat, and entered the thick patch of foliage. Lacey pushed away the thorns and branches, aware of the scratches she received, but stopped when the fort came into view. Her arms and legs were covered in blood spots where it seeped out from the deeper scrapes, through her jeans and sweatshirt. The old tree house looked the same, hidden away by the thousands of branches that enclosed the small entry way. The chipped paint was in a worse condition than Lacey’s remembered. Lacey took in the appearance of the old meeting place for Rob and her, trying to ignore the tears that were dying to escape. She walked slowly toward the crooked and cracked steps, looking around anxiously for Rob. Lacey hoisted herself up and climbed the broken ladder cautiously, afraid steps would break off at any moment.
What Lacey saw changed her life forever.

Motionless, on the fort’s wooden floor, laid her best friend in the whole world. Lacey clutched the floorboards tightly, to keep herself from falling backwards to the ground below.
"R-r-r-ob!" She cried and crept to his stone cold side, letting the tears spill out, splattering his ragged shirt. She let her body fall on top of his frozen, dead body.
"No! No! No! You can’t be dead!" Lacey wailed in disbelief as she cupped her hands over her mouth to soften the screams. After what seemed like an eternity, she came to her senses, took out her cell phone, and called the police.

* * * * *

The funeral took place a week after Lacey found Rob’s body. It was Monday,

January 1st.

A new beginning.
A new start.
A new life without Rob.
It was time to move on after the tears and sobs she had endured. But with one last chance to say goodbye.

Lacey walked up the aisle to the lectern in St. Joseph ’s Catholic Church, where the funeral was being held. She knew what she wanted to say without note cards. As Lacey walked up the altar steps, she straightened her simple black spaghetti strap dress. She took one last deep breath before stepping up to the podium and beginning her speech.

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I would just like to take this opportunity to wish you all, a very happy New Year. Rob will miss a good year, but he would want us to enjoy this year as much as we can. Rob was my best friend. We did everything together. He could have had guy friends, but instead, he chose me. We played, laughed, cried, and always burnt popcorn. Before I knew it, thirteen years had flown by and he was still the most important person in my life. The one experience I will never forget happened only a couple weeks ago. It was the formal winter dance and I sat along the sidelines, waiting for my knight in shining armor to come and whisk me away to the dance floor. After that we would share the most romantic kiss and we would live happily ever after. If my fantasy had c ome true, Rob would be sitting next to me, laughing, as we burnt the popcorn. What did happen that night was I danced with him. And something that I look back on and regret occurred and I would trade anything to change the past. He kissed me. But I rejected him. When I could have had my knight in shining armor, I pulled away. This is the reason he ran away. This is reason he is dead. And now, looking back on it all, I realize why I cried and why I almost died in the last few weeks. I did not just cry for the sake of losing my best friend; I lost my soul mate. Robert Daniels is someone you will never forget. Thank you.”

Lacey stood motionless for a moment, listened to the roaring applause, and then took her seat to hear the speeches by his family members.
After the long, painful service, the family and friends were allowed to view the body. Lacey sat in the back of the church, crying quietly. Mrs. Daniels approached her, dabbing her eyes with a lace handkerchief, "Lacey, I want you to know that I really--we really, appreciate your speech. And it's not your fault." She said dabbing her eyes once more and tapping Lacey's hand. Lacey nodded in agreement, but didn't truly believe her comforting words. Mrs. Daniels stood once more and motioned for her to come with her. Lacey moved toward her almost motionlessly, like a zombie finally waking up.
"There is something Rob wanted to give you," she said as she meandered towards a small coffee table in the back, holding around a hundred pictures and memorials of Rob. She picked up a little box and held it out for Lacey’s careful examination. It contained photos of him and Lacey as kids, playing and laughing. Lacey's eyes started to fill up with tears, flipping through picture after picture. Then Mrs. Daniels handed her a miniature black jewelry box. Lacey slowly opened it and almost dropped the box at the sight of a beautiful ruby necklace. Lacey unlocked the clip, pulled it over her ne ck, and fastened the necklace.
"I love it." She whispered through her sobs. Lacey pulled out a picture of her and Rob and moved toward the casket. Trembling, she looked at his peaceful body. Lacey placed the picture over his heart, bent towards his stone cold face, and kissed him.
“That should have been our first kiss,” she said as she went outside and stared at the long black limo. She’d never pictured this, at least not for her best friend. Lacey stepped inside the limo and sat next to her mom and Mrs. Daniels. The ride dragged on, with tears and silly stories of Rob as a kid. Lacey laughed occasionally at the crazy memories, but they soon arrived at St. Peters Cemetery .

Lacey got out of the car, which should have served as a wedding vehicle, stood over the grave area with the assembly, and listened to the priest. She blocked out everything he said as she stared at the shut casket and the large flower arrangement on top of it. Lacey brushed her hand along the dark wood. Moments later, the crowd of viewers let out their mournful cries, as they placed the casket in the grave. Lacey stood hovering over the newly dug hole in the ground and smiled, as the last tear trickled down her cheek.

I love you.

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Girlbehindthecamera said...
Apr. 6, 2009 at 2:41 pm
This was a story that my cousin, Alaina, and I were working on and I wanted to share it with you!
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