Lost and FoundMature

Janine was frantic. When she got home and we told her Deidre was missing, she immediately went back outside. We stopped her before she could get too far. It was raining and we climbed into my car. I gripped the steering wheel, cursing myself for being so damn stupid.

The first place I went was that statue park. She wasn't there. Then I went to the other parks we visited, stopping at the Chase's light display. We drove through the night, Janine giving me suggestions where she might have gone. Around 7:30 in the morning, Janine gave me directions to the soup kitchen. She rushed in, ignoring the people around her, and spoke frantically to a woman behind the serving counter.

"She was here," she said, shaking and crying. "But she was bullied out. Margie tried to do something about it but Deidre left before she could! Oh, I have no idea where she could have gone now!"

My mom put her arm around her shoulders as I turned towards the coffee shop. Without turning my car off, I ran in.

"Is Deidre here?" I asked Larry.

He frowned. "No. As a matter of fact, she was supposed to be here an hour ago. She's never late.... Is something wrong?"

I groaned and hit my head against the wall.

"I'm such a fucking idiot!" I yelled. "Look, if you see her, please call me."

"Artemis, what's going on?" he demanded.

"She ran off!" I yelled, pulling at my hair and he stopped me. "I fucked up bad and she ran! I have no clue where she went! We've looked everywhere!"

Larry locked the shop. "All right. How many parks did you go to?" I told him the ones we visited as he led me to his green truck. "Check the ones with picnic tables. There's ice in the forecast tonight and I can assure you that's where she'll be."

"Okay," I said shakily.

"What's she wearing?"

"Blue jeans and a long sleeved blue shirt the last we were told," I said, running to my car. "And she has a navy blue duffle bag!"

Larry nodded. "Keep your phone on."

"He's going to help us look," I said when I got back in. I peeled out of the parking lot. "I'm going to find her. And when I do, I'm going to make this right. I don't know how, but I swear to you both that I'm going to make this right."

My mom looked up all the parks with picnic tables and told me how to get to each one. I got out of the car and called for her, hoping and praying she would come out. I checked under each table. As the night wore on, though, and exhaustion started to settle in, I stopped bending down.

"Please, Deidre!" I yelled, shielding my face from the ice. "Deidre, please come out! Deidre!"

I waited for ten minutes then slumped my way back to the warm car. I turned the heat off. If she was going to be freezing, I would be, too. I had dropped our moms off at a diner so they could get some food and rest. They tried to talk me into staying with them but I refused to.

I didn't stop at anymore parks. I drove slowly down the roads that night, my emergency lights on, and squinting at the sidewalks. At nine in the morning, my mom called me. Deidre hadn't gone to the kitchen and she was thinking about going to the police station to file a missing person's report.

"There's no point," I heard Janine say sadly. "She's just another missing homeless person now."

She burst into tears and I hung up. I couldn't stand it. I gripped the steering wheel angrily. Lunch time came and went. I was driving the streets by the office, wondering if that's where she was gone. It was starting to get hard to drive straight so I stopped for another cup of coffee at a Starbucks.

I didn't get a phone call from Larry until five in the evening.

"Downtown!" he yelled. I did an illegal U-turn, ignoring the honks and yells. "She was headed north! I tried to turn but there was too much traffic."

"Any landmarks that were around?" I asked.

"Yeah. There's that weird statue park but she hates that place."

"Okay. What else is down that road?"

"Some shops, a restaurant or two, and this neat geyser park."

I pounded my fist on the steering wheel. "I know where she's going! I'll call you back!"

I hung up and pressed my foot down on the gas. I spend down the streets, my heart pounding. It was getting colder and more ice was starting to fall. What I was doing was dangerous. One wrong turn and my car could flip. I didn't care. I had to get to her.

When I got to the fountain, I didn't bother to park in a slot. I slammed my door shut. The entrance was chained shut with a sign on it.

Closed for the season.

Something told me that wouldn't matter to Deidre. Hadn't she told me she used to be a bit of a rebel? I hopped over the low poled fence. I yelled her name but she wasn't on the outskirts. I headed for the center of the fountain and nearly fell over.

There she was. She was curled into a ball but I would know that red hair anywhere. I was about fifty feet from her and I could tell she was shivering. I ran to her, slipping on the ice.

"Deidre, thank God!" I cried, kneeling down beside her. My stomach dropped. Her eyes were shut tightly and her lips were blue. She was shaking violently and her nose was running. It froze on her face. "Shit! Don't worry Deidre! I'll get you warm again. Don't worry."

I lifted her up and tossed her duffle bag on my shoulder. I walked as fast as I dared back to the car and climbed carefully over the fence. I opened the back door and put her in the backseat gently. I turned the heat on full blast and dialed my mom's phone with shaking fingers.

"I found her," I said, my voice shaking more than me. "G-Get to the house and get a hot bath running. Have Janine put some clothes in the dryer for her." I glanced through the rearview mirror. "Mom, when you told me about periods... the blood comes out from...."

"Yes. Why? I she bleeding?"

"Yeah. Through her pants."

"Okay." She took a deep breath. "Okay. Get her here and we'll take care of her. Where was she?"

"The fountain," I answered and a few tears leaked out. "Oh, Mom. I'm so glad I found her."

"So am I. Hurry back but be careful. The ice is coming down heavier."

Next I called Larry. He was relieved and told me to keep her from work for at least a week. When I got to my house, I pulled into the garage, thankful the press didn't like being out in bad weather. Despite the heater blowing on the way home, she was still shivering. Her eyes were open but they were out of focus. She was trying to speak.

"Shh," I said, opening the door to the house with difficulty. "You're going to be just fine, Deidre. You're home now."

I'm not sure which of us I was reassuring.

The End

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