Angelina remembered it very clearly. She was sitting in the rocking chair on the porch with Mrs. McJunkin on a sunny summer afternoon when the phone rang. Mrs. McJunkin rose from the glider, stepped across the porch, opened the screen door, and stepped onto the hardwood floors inside. The phone stopped ringing when Mrs. McJunkin picked up the receiver.
Angelina knew that Mrs. McJunkin wasn’t much of a talker and became worried when she had been on the phone for ten minutes. She walked through the living room, tastefully decorated with Victorian furniture, into the kitchen which smelled of fresh chocolate chip cookies, and up the stairs into the hallway. She checked each and every room. She peeked in the guest room, she looked in Mr. and Mrs. McJunkin’s room. The bathroom door hung open. She walked back downstairs into the basement, thinking maybe the elderly woman had gone down to take a load of clothes out of the dryer. Mrs. McJunkin was nowhere to be found. Angelina was really worried now.
She yelled throughout the house: “Mrs. McJunkin! Mrs. McJunkin, where are you?” There was no response to answer her calls.
Just then, Mr. McJunkin stepped through the glass front door with a couple of grocery bags dangling from each wrinkled arm.
“What are you doing here?” he asked Angelina.
“Mr. McJunkin, something’s gone terribly wrong! Mrs. McJunkin has disappeared!”
“Don’t be silly, Angelica-“
“It’s Angelina and I’m not making this up, Mr. McJunkin. You have to believe me. We need to call the police.”
“I will not be interrupted and disgraced by someone your age, Angela. Leave my house now and let me take care of it. I’m sick and tired of you coming over here all the time to bother me. You are no longer welcome here.”
“My name isn’t Angela. It’s Angelina. You are going to believe me eventually, Mr. McJunkin. When you want my side of the story you can come find me. For now, though, I will go home and call the police myself. Goodbye, Mr. McJunkin!”
Angelina turned to leave just as Mr. McJunkin’s face turned red and he dropped the grocery bags on the floor with a thud. The last thing she heard as she left the house was the sound of Mrs. McJunkin’s prized crystal vase hitting the hardwood floor and shattering into thousands of sparkling fragments.
She ran back to her house. Of course no one was home. No one was ever home. She ran up the stairs to her room, slammed the door shut, and sat down on her bed with her journal. Whenever she was upset, she wrote in her journal everything her mind could think of. She often poured out her soul into the blue, leather-bound book. Writing was her outlet. Writing and reading Nancy Drew. This disappearance seemed like a mystery worthy of Ms. Drew to Angelina. She wanted to collect clues.
Unfortunately, Angelina didn’t get to collect any clues. Mrs. McJunkin came back to her home later that afternoon, only to give Angelina the bad news.
Once again, Angelina found herself on her neighbor’s back porch, sipping lemonade and rocking back and forth in her favorite chair. Mrs. McJunkin told Angelina all about the phone call. She said her sister had died in a car accident and Mrs. McJunkin was deeply shaken. She had to leave the house so she could get some time to herself. She had left a note in the front door for Angelina but of course she hadn’t thought to look there.
She then told Angelina that she had to go to California to be with her family for the funeral. She didn’t know when or even if she would be back. Things hadn’t been going too well for her in Philadelphia. She felt her husband was always trying to keep her tied down. She needed to escape and live her own life. She was very sorry. Blah, blah, blah.
This always happened to Angelina. She always lost the people she treasured the most. She didn’t let any tears spill from her eyes in front of Mrs. McJunkin when they embraced in a goodbye hug. She didn’t even let herself cry on the way back to her house. It was after she had run up the carpeted stairs, shut her door, and dug out her blue journal from under her bed that she began to tear up.
She wrote and she wrote and she wrote for an hour and a half. All the while, the tears were flowing like a faucet.