Missing Connections

Ashlyn Moore and her ex-husband Ryan must set aside their differences to find their daughter after she goes missing on Halloween night.

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3. PART THREE

 

ASHLYN MOORE

 

It was nice to see Brian finally stepping up, especially since I was too much of a wreck to be useful.  For the first time in his life, he was actually trying to be responsible for something. I wished it had happened three years earlier. Then Teya might’ve never gone missing. With a pang of guilt, I finally accepted that he wasn’t the whole cause of the problem. I should’ve told Teya to wait inside or I could’ve kept her in the room with me.

I followed Brian out the front door. The quiet neighborhood street was packed with parents and their children going from house to house and filling bags up with candy. I recognized almost everyone. Someone had to know where Teya was.

“Hello, Ashlyn. Where’s Teya? I’m almost out of candy already, so you better get her out here pretty quickly,” Mrs. Peterson called out from her front porch.

“She’s missing. Have you seen her anywhere?” I yelled back.

Mrs. Peterson looked concerned. “No, but I’ll let you know if I see her around.”

Brian and I split up and went down the street in different directions. I asked everyone I saw out trick-or-treating if they had seen Teya. No one knew anything about her disappearance. About half an hour later, I met back up with Brian in front of my house.

“Anything?” I asked hopefully. He shook his head. Just like that, my whole world started to crumble and I started to cry again. Brian put an arm around me and for the first time in two years, I didn’t shrug it off. He pulled out his phone and handed it to me. With trembling fingers, I dialed 911.

“911, what’s your emergency?”

“My daughter is missing,” I said.

I stood there and patiently answered all the operator’s questions, Brian chiming in from time to time when I got too choked up to answer.

“There,” Brian said, brushing my hair out of my face. “The police are on their way. And when they come, they’ll find Teya.”

“Okay,” I said, “okay.”

We waited together in the front yard and listened to the approaching sirens. Parents, children, and dogs scattered to the sidewalk to let two police cruisers by. The cars stopped in the street in front of my house. An officer stepped out and walked over to us.

“Are you Ashlyn Moore and Brian Wilson?” he asked.

We nodded and he said, “Okay, so tell me how the kid went missing. Don’t leave any details out. Once we know what happened, we can search the area for clues and question the neighbors some more.”

I was just about to start telling him everything when someone interrupted, “Ashlyn, is everything okay?”

Mrs. Potter, the middle aged woman who lived next door to me, was hurrying across the grass.

“Where you robbed?” she asked.

“No, no. Nothing like that. Teya’s missing,” I explained.

Mrs. Potter just stared at me with her mouth dangling open in shock. When she finally pulled herself together, she was talking all in a rush.

“Oh God, Ashlyn, I’m so so sorry. I was just trying to give you some peace of mind. You told me to watch out for Teya after Brian left two years ago, so when I saw her outside, I invited her in and...I’m just so sorry to have scared you like this.”

“Wait,” I said, “You have Teya?”

“She’s in the house. I heard the sirens and came to see what was going on.”

“So she’s been there the whole time?”

“Yes. I’m so sorry to have worried you.”

The officer cleared his throat and said, “Miss, would you like to proceed to pressing charges against your neighbor for kidnapping?”

“Hell no,” I said, “sorry for wasting your time officer.”

With a grumble, he got back in his car and soon the two police cruisers were speeding away. Mrs. Potter led Teya out. I ran over to her and engulfed her in a big hug.

“Teya, we were so worried! Daddy and I didn’t know where you were. We thought someone had taken you.”

“Am I in trouble, Mommy?” she asked.

“No,” Brian said, walking over to us, “this whole mess was my fault.”

“Our fault,” I added.

Teya ran over to Brian screaming, “Daddy!” like the happy little girl she was.

“Come on, princess. We’d better get going if you want any candy,” he said.

Brian took one of her hands and I took the other. We walked down the street looking the same as every other family out trick-or-treating. I smiled at Brian. We weren’t anywhere near fixed, but we were starting to put the pieces back together. I never thought Halloween would be considered one of those holidays that brings people together. But it was. And all the things that were missing could finally start falling back into place.

 
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