Written by Kerry Elizabeth Blickenderfer Black
For the Daytime Writers, Springdale, PA, February, 2013
Somehow, the police men’s voices sounded muffled, as though coming through the walkie talkies at their utility belted waists instead of their mouths. “Ma’am, we’re going to file this report at the station. If anything else occurs to you, you have our cards. Real sorry, Ma’am.”
McKenzie did not look up as she mechanically thanked the two young, uniformed men. “I’d show you photographs of my furnishings if they hadn’t taken my photo albums, too,” she’d explained to them. She looked at the built-in book shelf beside the red brick fireplace, and tears prickled at her eyes for the first time since she returned from their vacation.
Make-a-Wish had granted a trip to sunny Florida and Walt Disney World to her daughter, 13 year old Amanda. It was the kindest experience either woman had enjoyed, with no worries to trouble sleep and less pain since Amanda’s last surgery. They came home to a house that was clean. They usually had a tidy house, but this was scrubbed top to bottom; no cob webs or dust, but no personal effects either; the windows still had their curtains and blinds intact and closed, but everything else, from clothing to the dressers that held them, silly mementos magnetted to the refrigerator and the fridge itself, even the toiletries and tp in the bath, gone. No welcome mat to greet them at their front door, nor a boot tray to host their muddy shoes when they entered the Victorian charmer in the quiet Verona neighborhood.
The only thing remaining was a single playing card, face up, dead center in the living room. McKenzie stared at the one-eyed Jack, her emotion hidden, when she answered the questions from the police in their black uniforms. She lied when they asked if the card held any special meaning to her, denying the truth that he had found them after so many years of careful hiding. He’d wanted her to know who now possessed her possessions, know that he would be coming for them.
After she closed and locked the heavy wooden front door which showed no signs of forcible entry, drawing the dead bolt, she turned a false smile to her daughter standing in the living room where their couch would have been, her Disney princess shirt brilliantly pink. McKenzie had two hundred dollars left from the trip, and not much in her bank accounts, but it would have to do. “We are going on a new adventure, Amanda,” McKenzie exclaimed, “Since we are already packed, we are ready to go. Where would you like to live, my love, and what name do you think is the prettiest?”
Amanda furrowed her brow. She was a trusting and caring child, her thirteen years sheltered and youthful. “Jasmine, momma, like on this shirt.” She pointed to the dark-haired beauty, and McKenzie smiled. “I like that name, too, Jasmine. What about me, though?” Amanda liked this game, so she suggested other princess names, and thought they should live in Florida. Perhaps not Florida, but someplace warmer than this Northern city. Someplace new to hide two gals from an abuser, a one-eyed, black-hearted Jack to whom one was married and the other never called Daddy.