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Without A Trace

There are flashing red and blue lights in front of your house as well as Jamie’s. You’re sitting on the couch now, mind back on the scene in front of you. A man in blue is crouched down on one knee in front of you, holding a notepad and pen. Your eyes are wide and you’re terrified. What’s going on? What’s happening? Your mother is standing in the entryway, sobbing as her husband holds her. She keeps saying she needs to go talk to Linda but she hasn’t left yet.

Linda is Jamie’s mother. She’s really nice and always bakes chocolate chip cookies whenever you come over, knowing that they’re your favorite. She also packs an extra pudding back in Jamie’s lunch just for you.

“Jesse,” You turn at your name and the policeman is staring at you in the way that your mother stares at you when she wants you to listen to her. “When’s the last time you saw Jamie?”

You blink, trying to remember but for some reason you can’t. Where was Jamie anyways? She was supposed to tell you about Dora! It was evening now and she still hasn’t come over or has her mom call you for her. You huff and cross your arms. “Where is she? I need to know what happened on Dora!”

“That’s what we’re trying to figure that out, Jesse,” The policeman speaks in a calm but commanding tone. “Now try to focus: when did you last see Jamie?”

“After school! We always walk home together but I couldn’t ‘cause I have to finish my letters I’m not very good at my little ‘k’s’ yet,” you mumbled, looking at the ground. “Where’s Jamie?”

The policeman ignores your question and instead asks another. “Do you remember seeing anybody with her?”

You’re getting tired and a little restless. “No,” you answer, wiggling in your spot a little. Where was Jamie? Why was the policeman asking so many questions?

“Has Jamie ever walked home by herself before?” The policeman asks as he scribbles something down on his notepad. You don’t bother leaning forward and trying to read it; you can barely write or read.

Tears instantly fill your eyes for some reason, fear rushing through you. You’re scared and desperately want to know what’s going on. “No. But today I talked to Spencer instead of doing my work so I had to stay after and Miss Greta said she’d call my mom and say that I had to stay after and Jamie walked by herself and I want Jamie! Where is she?!” You’re practically screaming now and you’re dad is rushing over, pulling you into his arms.

“She doesn’t know where Jamie is. Shouldn’t you be out looking for her?” Your dad sounds angry, using the same tone he uses when you don’t pick up your toys before you go to bed. That must mean the policeman is in trouble.

The policeman sighs and stands up. “We’re doing all that we can do but we have to question everybody. Especially Jesse since she was the last one to see her,” he says in return but walks off anyways.

You look up at your father, vision blurry and eyes unblinking. “Daddy? Where’s Jamie? I miss her!”

“They’re going to find her. Don’t worry, darling,” he says and hugs you close. Your mom, who’s no longer crying, comes over and hugs you as well. You’re all together and that’s all that matters at the moment.

---

The police said that they only had twenty-four hours. If Jamie had been abducted, the normal period of time the child is kept alive is twenty-four hours. You didn’t know what any of that meant but you know that it’s been more than twenty-four hours. You know it’s been three days because your mom is making you go to school now and it’s the third day you didn’t want to go because Jamie wouldn’t be there to sit next to you.

Miss Greta always looks at you kind of sadly, like your puppy just died. You don’t get it; where was Jamie? Every time you asked somebody, they would just shake their head and say ‘I don’t know’ which didn’t make any sense. How do they not know where she is? You figured he was just home sick but your mom wouldn’t let you go over there to see him.

You’re coloring alone now just like the past couple of days. You stop and look over at the spot where Jamie should be, right next to you but she isn’t there. You sigh and go back to coloring when the door opens and in walks the principle. He whispers something to the teacher and then turns towards you. “Jesse?” you look up at your name and see the two. “Could you please go with Mr. Beckett?”

You nod slowly and stand up, heart racing and stomach twisting. Were you in trouble? Dropping your crayon, you follow the principle out the door and ignore the chorus of ‘ohhh, you’re in trouble!’ behind you. Once the door is closed, you keep following him all the way to the office where your mother and father are waiting.

“Jesse, we found Jamie,” Your father says, picking you up and balancing you on his hip. You hug his neck tightly and look at your mother. “We’re going to go visit her. She isn’t talking to anybody so don’t expect a response.”

---
The hospital was never your favorite place. You don’t like the lack of color or the weird smell. Clinging to your father’s leg, you quietly ask where Jamie is but nobody’s listening. Finally, your dad starts moving and you follow, now holding on to your mother’s hand. The walk seems to take forever. You have to go up two elevators and then down a bunch of hallways. There are people in dresses everywhere, the backs showing their underwear. You laugh a little bit but then quiet down when your mom shushes you.

They stop at a door and you race to open it up, flinging it open and yelling “JAMIE!” before your parents can grab you, you’re racing towards the bed, excited to see your best friend again. She’s just looking at you, eyes wide and unblinking, and no smile playing her face. You falter slightly, not knowing what you did wrong. How come she isn’t smiling? She always smiles when she sees you. Your mom picks you up, telling you to quiet down and you bite your lower lip, reaching out to touch Jamie but she just shrinks away.

“Jamie?” you whisper but she just turns away. You instantly start crying and bury your face in your mother’s neck. “Something’s wrong with Jamie! She won’t talk to me, Mommy! Tell him to talk to me!”

Your mother sighs, sadly looking at Jamie before walking away and setting you down on a chair. “Jesse, why don’t you draw her a picture?”
You just shake your head and cross your arms, pouting as tears stream down your face. “I want her to talk to me.”

Jamie’s parents, unable to control themselves, step out of the room to compose themselves. Almost automatically, your parents follow to consol them, leaving you and Jamie alone in the room. Wiping your tears away, you crawl off the chair and rush to Jamie’s bedside, pulling yourself up. You’re carefully of the wires but ignore the scared look Jamie’s giving you. “Stop it. You’re my best friend. I won’t hurt you!” you cry out, wrapping your arms around her and pulling her close.

She’s stiff, afraid and shaking a little but then slowly, she relaxes, warm tears dripping down her cheeks. “I was so scared, Jesse,” her voice is shaky, cracking, as if she hasn’t talked in a while and she hasn’t.

You nod slowly as if you understand and you do. You always understand when it comes to Jamie. “What happened? Where’d you go? I missed you so much!”

Jamie just shakes her head. “Some man took me. He told me that my mommy sent him to pick me up ‘cause you were after school doing your letters and….and then he took me somewhere and I told him that I didn’t live here and he told me to shut-up and then locked me in a room and he said he called my mom and she said that I could stay with him for awhile but then he started hurting me and I tried to run away and then he caught me-!” she pauses, sucking in a long breath before continuing, “-then he caught me and hurt me and then he took me to our park and left me in the dark and I thought I would die but then some scary people got me and I didn’t know what happened to you and where were you? I missed you too! I asked for you but he didn’t bring you to me! I didn’t want him to get you because he was not very nice at all.”
You blink, then smile and hug her tightly. “But you’re okay now, right? My mommy said the man who took you is in jail and he can’t get you anymore.”
Jamie nods. “He said he would kill me and you,” she whispered. “He said he knew where you lived.”
“But I’m not dead. I’m okay too,” you smile as she rests her head on your shoulder and shuts her eyes. “I really missed you, Jamie.”

Jamie giggles. “I missed you too. Did you watch Dora when I was gone?”

You hit her shoulder. “YES BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED ON THAT ONE WHEN YOU WATCHED IT!”

She laughs and your stomach hurts like it always does when she laughs. “Okay, I’ll tell you if you tell m what happened. Promise?” he holds out her pinky.

You link your pinky with hers and smile. “Promise!”





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