Thoughtless Gifts“It’s time to go home,” Mrs. Carter said to her children. “We need to let the police do their work now. Hopefully they will help us find Valerie.” But would they find Valerie dead or alive was a question Mrs. Carter didn’t plan to share.
“Fine by me,” Liam sighed, walking back to their VW Bug.
“Not by me.” Marci frowned. “I want to help them find Valerie.”
“The police want us to go home, besides Allan will be there soon after we arrive.” Mrs. Carter turned to leave.
“I really don’t care if Allan is home or not. It would be significantly better if he stayed on his business trip forever.” Marci paced toward Kenny. “I will ask them if I can stay.”
“Marci Lynn Carter!” Her mother yelled using Marci’s full name like she always did whenever she was mad. “You are coming home!”
Marci kept on walking until she reached Sergeant Kenny. “Um, excuse me, sir, Mr. Kenny? I was wondering if I could stay and look for evidence of my sister’s disappearance.”
Kenny spun around to face her, resisting the urge to say: What can you do? You’re only fifteen. Instead he said, “I’m sorry but we-”
“I can search the woods for her!” Marci cut in. “Please! I want to find Valerie! After all, I was the last one to see her.”
“Well,” he looked into her sad amber eyes. “If you search the woods, make sure one of my co-workers is close by. You wouldn’t want any accidents happening now would you?” Kenny wasn’t sure what Marci would do if she came across the body of her sister but decided he needed all the help he could get.
“Of course not, I’ll be careful.” Marci tried to smile but failed.
“Kenny!” Officer Young a middle-aged woman with jet black shoulder length hair shouted from inside the forest. “I found some items, they may be evidence!” Officer Young raced over to him holding a plastic bag containing two objects. “I found these buried in some bushes! The shining sequins embedded on the purse gave it away.”
“Those are Valerie’s!” Marci exclaimed, recognizing the purse and crushed blackberry curve that lay inside a plastic bag.
“Examine them,” Kenny ordered.
Just then Mrs. Carter marched over to them tapping her foot against the muddy ground and saying, “Marci Lynn you are coming home with me now!” Mrs. Carter grasped Marci’s wrist and began dragging her back to the awaiting vehicle.
“But…” Marci pleaded. “They found some of Valerie’s stuff!”
“Me and Allan will come back and take care of the paper work once I know you are safe at home.”
When they arrived at their brown tiled house Marci was the first to see the black Honda Pilot parked in the driveway. To her dismay she remembered that it was Allan’s. The blue garage door opened and the devil himself-AKA Allan Carter- walked out putting on the fakest smile that Marci had ever seen from him.
“Allan!” Mrs. Carter smiled practically jumping out of the silver VW and into his open arms. Marci and Liam both grimaced making a beeline toward the house.
“Hey kids! Hold up! I got you guys some presents.” Allan Carter called to them. Liam and Marci froze in their tracks, slowly swiveling around to face him. Allan pulled out three small brown paper bags. On one Valerie’s name was scrawled, the other ones said Marci and Liam, except Marci’s name was spelled M-a-r-c-y.
Marci grabbed hers and reached for Valerie’s but Allan said, “Valerie can get hers herself.”
“Yeah, if she ever comes back.” Marci scowled seizing Valerie’s bag and taking off into the house.
“What?” Allan sounded genuinely confused. Mrs. Carter filled him in on what had happened as Liam grabbed his bag and headed into the house.
Marci sat on the white-carpeted floor of the living room with the contents of both bags spilled onto the floor. “He got me a necklace.” She held up a gold chain with a red rose charm dangling from it in front of Liam. “He got Valerie a new notebook for her poems.”
Liam pulled a pocketknife out of his bag. “Interesting, I swear he knows I already have one.” He flipped the blade in and out as if he were a four-year old playing with a toy.
“Can I see that?” Marci asked.
“Sure.” Liam retracted the blade and tossed the pocketknife to her. Catching it, Marci flipped the blade out examining its sharp edge.
“Liam? Why is there blood on it?” Marci’s voice shook as she pointed to the dried blood covering its side.
“I-I thought it was rust…”
The door opened and their mother and Allan walked in distraught with worry. Liam was about to ask what the blood on his present was but Marci shook her head whispering, “Not now, can’t you see that they are upset? Asking about the blood on your knife would be idiotic. Allan probably used it to gut a deer or something like that.”
“Now you’re sticking up for that asshole?” Liam glared into her amber eyes, seeing his own.
“God, he’s not that bad, but I’m not sticking up for him either. I just don’t want you to bother them right now. Hello? Valerie might never come back!” Tears crept down Marci’s high cheekbones splashing on the brown paper bag that lay beside her.
Liam heaved a sigh watching his sister race up the stairs. Seconds later there was an angry door slam and then…silence. His mother and Allan sat at the table each holding a mug filled with Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, conversing in hushed voices.
Liam hoped Valerie was safe, but odds were against it. At least the police hadn’t found a body…yet.