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Missing Missing
by Juliette Roques
2007-02-18 01:09:13
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Yes, I remember her. Hayley her name was. Like the comet that brought bad luck. I always thought it sounded like a cruel joke but she liked it because it was the only time her father had noticed her. We ran away together, not on the same day; we met up a year later. But when we talked it turned out we had both turned our backs on a loving home and family (not) on the same night. Hayley said it made us spiritual twins. In a way we’d been born at the same time.

She had a real wicked smile. It wasn’t something most people saw. A lot of the time she looked sad. Her grandmother said it was the hair, made her look too severe all pulled back and all. She liked to wear it in a braid. She’d stand in front of the mirror in the shelter and comb it for a long time. It was blond and very long. Hayley always washed her hair every day and rinsed with a special conditioner she made herself. I asked her once what was in it and she gave me that wicked smile. Her eyes lit up when she smiled. A lot of people say that about partners or loved ones.

Her family never saw that. They just thought she was overly serious. Like when they took her picture, the one they had on the milk carton in the end. Her father, she said, had been snapping away, one snap shot after the other for posterity in the family’s photo album. It was one of his off days. Off from being alone, from shutting himself up in his room. He’d redecorated a portion of the family room, installed a TV, stereo and a mini bar and had made it all his own. He’d done it to shut out his family, Hayley said. She didn’t have any memories of her Dad actually doing something with anyone in the family. He’d talk to her mother at night but that was about it.

In the end Hayley just simply ran away. She went up the stairs, packed a small bag and crept out of her house while her father was raking up points on his Xbox. He didn’t notice his eldest had gone until her mother called her down for breakfast the following morning. Hayley pieced it together when she saw the first notice, her face on the milk carton as we were standing in line waiting to get a cup of coffee at the local 7-11. They’d given the wrong date. A day later. She’d left on a Friday afternoon, plenty of time for her family to find out she had gone but they had waited until the following day.

When we both arrived at the shelter, standing side by side at the entrance, Hayley looked sad. Her eyes were bluish-grey but they always looked misty. Sometimes you couldn’t tell the color because of the mist. A lot of the kids who end up on milk cartons, the ones who end up running away, they always look sad. You’d think the grown ups had some idea of what it was like. I mean half of the time they end up using family pictures – what else are they supposed to use – and if you’re sad in that, it might actually be a real tip-off.

Hayley says Christmas is the most popular time for suicides, when they all top themselves. It’s because they can’t stand all that happy-clappy bullshit. I always speak of her in the presence. As if she was still here. Well, Hayley checked out three days ago. She took an overdose. It’s not that she was weak but how else are you supposed to beat tedium around here. It’s not so much the tedium actually as the uncertainty. Things that might happen the next day or later, like getting a house for example or a place to stay. It’s always ‘later’ that you focus on that makes you hang in there for just one more day, because that’s how we live around here; later might bring unknown glories, things that actually happen, an escape.

Hayley says she knows exactly how orphanage kids feel when prospective parents come by to visit. I’m doing it again, speaking of her in the presence. She really wanted you to come see her, to talk to her just once, instead of running to the bank all the time making sure the money’s right. In the end it didn’t get you much all that mature happiness did it? Hayley just wanted her family to stay together. She hated the way her father would always cop out and sit in his arm chair, door firmly closed against any life that was going on in the living-room. He didn’t even shout inside for them to be quiet when Hayley turned up the volume. She said it would have been easier if he would have beaten her because then at least he would have taken notice.

I’m sorry you had to make all that journey. You said it had taken you three days. It was all in vain. Maybe I can help you ease the pain. You could take me home with you, give me her room. I’d tell you all about her, help you to know her even in death.

Read the other chapters

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Get it off your chest
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Asa2007-02-17 19:40:36
Nice work.

Thanos2007-02-17 22:08:20
very good!

Mia Kullegaard2007-02-20 15:47:17
I like it, good work, Juliette. Sad and interesting, just how I like stories to be.

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