People Never Notice Anything

October 21, 2012
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People Never Notice Anything

I am sitting here, looking out the window, watching the rain. Ever since Spike disappeared, the house has been so silent, and the rain is the only thing that comforts me. I’m lucky because I live in Seattle, Washington and it seems to be raining her at least 50 per cent of the time. The only problem is when it’s not raining, I can only focus on the deafening silence, but in some ways I’ve learned to appreciate the silence because silence speaks louder than words.

It’s funny thinking about how Spike got his name. His full name is Alexander Maximillion White III, but my mom has called him Spike because she thought his full name was too fancy and she was a hippie at heart, or at least she used to be. Now all she does is cook and clean, just trying to keep herself busy. You could say it’s her own way of dealing with the silence.

It’s also funny, but not in a humorous way, how names have a life of their own. Maybe that’s why when Spike went missing, even though he was a good kid throughout high school, (well, maybe a little rebellious sometimes), people came up with all these morbid reasons why he disappeared. The police still think he ran away, my parents still think he was abducted, the neighbors and strangers think he was involved with drugs or in horrible debt. I have thought about this and I’m going to name my kid a really nice name, a simple, regular, name, like my name even - Faith. Maybe John or William or Jane.

From the very beginning I knew he didn’t run away because he left everything behind, including me, and I knew he was too strong to be abducted. He would never get involved with drugs; he was too smart for that and was always frugal when it came to money.
I’ve searched his room so many times, trying to find something to tell me where he is, but I always come up empty, finding nothing to help. I’ve gone to the police station, walked down the same long hallway and waited with the same desperate people looking for answers, but you can tell that they’re sick of me. “Miss, we will tell you if we find anything new.” They tell me again and again before they shoo me off, like a mosquito that is annoying you.

So here I am, sitting in his room, looking out his window for yet another hour, yet another day, trying to make sense of it all, the rain singing to me. I don't even know where else I can look , my eyes wandering until they fall on a book, with a pen sticking out of it. I don't know what book it is because the spine is facing the wall, but the pen is marking a page. I jump up and grab it, pull it down and stare. It is Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I remember him muttering something about the book, but I don’t remember if it was about a character or a chapter or anything. I open it to where the pen sits and written in the margin are these numbers and letters: RA16 989 587.The only other thing written on the page is a big circle, around the text. It reads, “People never notice anything.” I don't know what it means, but I recall that, a while ago, before Spike had gone missing, I found an index card in my room that had Catcher in the Rye written on it. I realize that this statement is right in a way - people never notice anything. This clue may have been here all along and I never bothered to notice it. Still, I don’t know what this means.

I take out my computer and franticly type in RA16 989 587 into Google. The third link down is titled "Army Deaths". I remember my brother always playing soldier. One year he wanted to be a Navy Seal and the next he wanted to be a Marine, but my parents always said they would never allow him to do it for real. My mom would say, “Three of my four brothers died in Vietnam. This family has given enough for this country.”

Without telling my parents about my findings or going back to the police station, I go down to the military recruitment offices. When I get there, I finally feel like people are taking me seriously. The first thing I do is show an officer the number on the book. He doesn't seem particularly interested in the numbers and letters, and he simply types the code into the computer and presses print. He casually hands me the paper, still warm from the printer. Right there, in black and white, my brother is alive. It reads: Alexander Maximillion White III, Age 22. Special Ops, RA16 989 587, with an address, Care of the US Marines. I don’t know if it’s possible to be happy, scared, confused, and angry all at the same time, but that’s how I feel, wrapped up in one big hot mess.

“Do you know Spike?” I ask the man.

“Who’s Spike? That’s all we have, honey. You can send him a letter, but we don’t know when he will get it or if he is able to write back.”

“Well how does someone sign up for the army anyway?”

“Honey, this is the Marines.”
I go home right away to write him a letter, but I stare at the paper for hours because I don't know what to say. I can't tell my parents because it would break their hearts and I feel like he would have wanted me to keep his secret. After all, it was his clue, to me, only for me. Eventually, I decide to write this:
I guess I finally noticed.

I mail it off and every single day after that, I check the mailbox only to find nothing. I almost give up hope, until one day, Tuesday, November 28th, I get a postcard from the Middle East. It simply says:

I love you.

I hide the letter under my mattress, and keep it there for a long time. It comforts me as I sleep, just knowing it is there. One day, I decide to put the postcard in my mom’s room. I wait days, then months, for a reaction. It’s still there today, and Spike is right - people never notice anything.

Maybe some people think he ran away or was abducted or was involved with drugs, but I know that he’s a silent hero and silence speaks louder than words.

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This article has 8 comments. Post your own now!

LucyK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 28, 2013 at 5:10 pm
thanks so much for the feedback! feel free to click my profile to check out my other writings! 
LucyK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 28, 2013 at 5:10 pm
thanks! feel free to check out my other writings!
Rocket said...
Oct. 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm
This intrigued me from beginning to end.  I love a good mystery and this really kept me in total suspense.  Thank you for writing this story.  Write some more as I will be a fan.
LucyK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 10, 2013 at 2:19 pm
thank you so much! I do have some other pieces if you click on my profile that you could check out if you wanted to
nj123 said...
Oct. 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm
A wonderful work by a talented young writer!  The attention to detail and beautiful descriptions make me feel like I am part of the story.  I look forwad to reading other pieces from this writer!
joyrocks! said...
Oct. 24, 2012 at 7:21 am
Lucy, I am a friend of Joann's.  You are an amazing talent!  Your work brought tears to my eyes. I know your writing will 'get noticed!' it has too!   You are too good not to notice.  Thanks for the touching and inspirational story!
samsc said...
Oct. 23, 2012 at 9:16 pm
WOW!!!  Loved this story.  It was amazing and really moved me.  Would love to see more of this writer's work.
samsc said...
Oct. 23, 2012 at 9:13 pm
WOW!!!  This story was amazing and really moved me. Would love to see more of your writing.
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