This week, our Sunday Scribblings prompt is Lost. If you decide to write a post based on this week’s prompt, be sure to go back here and share your link so everyone can see how you interpreted things! Here’s what I did with it…
“Here he comes,” said Ted, “I swear, you could set your watch by how predictable this guy is.”
Sitting next to him, Carrie gave him a puzzled look. “What are you talking about?”
From their vantage point on the bench in front of the 7-Eleven, Ted pointed across the street at the man who was approaching from the south. “I can’t remember his name. But I know he’s looking for some girl named Ellie.”
“How do you know that?”
“He comes through here every two weeks hanging up flyers. She’s been missing for three years. I don’t know the real story, but people talk. They say the two of them were on vacation nearby and she just disappeared,” Ted continued, not bothering to lower his voice as the topic of conversation grew within earshot.
Carrie made brief, uncomfortable eye contact with the man. “Maybe we shouldn’t be talking about him like this and just let him do his thing.”
“Whatever, I’m gonna get a Slurpee,” Ted said, standing up, “You want anything?”
“No, but I’m coming with you.”
The man stapled another flyer to a telephone pole across the road from the convenience store. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched the young couple leave their spots on the bench and walk into the store. He could hear them talking. He always heard people talking. About him. About Ellie. About how they felt sorry for him. About how they thought he was weird. About how he should just give up after all this time. About how he must have had something to do with Ellie’s disappearance.
Chris looked down at the remaining flyers in his hand. He looked at Ellie’s picture and wondered if people were right. Not about whether or not he had something to do with her disappearance. No, he was beginning to wonder if he was crazy. After all this time, should he just give up?
Ellie’s family had given up hope. The police had not followed up on any new leads in well over a year. But here was Chris, walking around the same five-mile radius from where shew as last seen, hanging up freshly printed flyers every two weeks. Like clockwork.
At some point, Chris was going to have to just admit the fact that Ellie was lost. She would not be coming back. But not knowing what happened to her was driving him crazy.
They had rented a cabin for a romantic weekend getaway, just outside of the small town. Being only two hours away from home felt far enough to get away from it all, but close enough that they could get back quickly if necessary.
The short vacation was going well for the two of them until Chris decided to go into town on Saturday morning to pick up some groceries for dinner. When he returned to the cabin, everything felt off. The front door was wide open, which was not the way he left it earlier. Things looked all right when he walked inside, but he had an uneasy feeling.
Chris carried his bag of groceries into the kitchen and called out Ellie’s name. But he got no response. Walking back to the bedroom, he called for her again. Nothing. He thought it was possible she had decided to go for a walk and just forgot to close the front door, so he stepped back out onto the porch and shouted toward the woods. Still no answer.
Still feeling uneasy but telling himself he should not be concerned, Chris decided to have a seat on the porch swing. He pulled out his phone and sent Ellie a quick text: “Where’d you go?”
A moment after he hit send, he heard the text alert from Ellie’s phone coming from inside the cabin. He had not noticed before, but her phone was sitting on the sofa, just inside the door.
“That’s not right,” Chris said aloud, his concern now rising. Ellie would not just leave without taking her phone.
Chris tried not to panic and told himself to wait for a while. Maybe she would come walking back up to the cabin. But after a couple of hours, he decided the best course of action was to call the police.
After a week of searching the area, the police came up with nothing. There was no sign of Ellie anywhere. There was no evidence that anyone had come to the cabin and taken her against her will. She was just gone. Lost.
Chris, of course, was a suspect in her disappearance for some time. But there was no evidence to tie him to any sort of foul play. Shaking the memories away as he still looked down at the flyers in his hand, he was aware that there were still plenty of people who believed he had something to do with whatever happened to Ellie.
The most maddening thing for Chris was simply not knowing the truth. That’s why he still did what he did. That’s why he could never give up. That’s why he could continue to put up with the rumors and the whispers. Chris could never accept that Ellie was just lost without a trace.
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Be sure to come back on Wednesday for the next Sunday Scribblings prompt! Encourage other bloggers to challenge themselves with the prompt!