Lost, For Words

Lost, For Words

A Story by Cara Rosalie
"

Bill's daughter is missing...

"

I always know what to say.

Transforming simple exposition into gripping unforgettable story is what I do. Most would agree that I do it well, or I suppose they would have given the Pulitzers to someone else. But those don’t help me right now. Not here in Stan’s office, in front of his computer and reminded that with each passing second I sit here   --not knowing what to say -- is one more second she’s out there alone, hurting and without her dad.

The cursor blinks at me -- hostile and taunting. I can feel it, like the scalding tip of a fire poker stabbing repeatedly into my eyes. They sting and burn, large hot tears dripping down my face. Again I tell myself, with my fingers hovering over the keyboard…I always know what to say.

I’m a journalist. I understand exactly how important words are; the lasting impression they leave. They hold the power to save or destroy, to expose or comfort. Even writing Maggie’s eulogy all those years ago, was effortless. Sobbing uncontrollably, I’d still taken proprietary pride in knowing it had to be me. No one else would be able to remind us of the woman who wore sunshine like an outfit; had a smile that stopped heartbeats? None would have been brave enough to call her laugh what it really was; atrocious. A hideous aberration divided into one-part honk, one-part snort; executed at an octave only mammals with sonar capabilities should be able to hear.

It didn’t get any better than my wife’s laugh.

It’s cruel really. All Maggie ever wanted was a baby; a girl preferably, with my dark wavy hair and her enormous green eyes.  Cuddled in my arms, Maggie would sigh, “She'll be ours and she'll be perfect.” 

Just when we thought that ship had forever sailed, Maggie got pregnant. Maggie fell in love. Maggie hugged herself for nine months. And then, Maggie died giving birth to our daughter; a tiny peapod with dark wavy hair and enormous green eyes. Fiona.

Maggie never met Fiona. She didn’t see her first steps, or hear her say, “Hi mommy”  as we kissed her picture goodnight. Never would she see the beautiful child we’d made -- ours and perfect.

Every year on August twenty-first, we celebrate Maggie doing her favorite things. Fiona loved August twenty-first. For sixteen years this had been our favorite day. Nothing would keep either one of us away. Nothing. Which is why I know for absolute certain that something unspeakable has happened to Fiona.

She never showed up.

We had agreed to meet at the bakery at eight sharp -- Central Park with a fresh loaf of bread; half for us, half for the ducks. Mag's used to say she and the ducks were kindred spirits, with their identical laughs.

By eight thirty I tried her cell twice. She didn’t answer. But this didn’t worry me; phones were kept off this day. Maybe I had been wrong about the meeting place. By ten fifteen I was panicking, and decided to jog over to the nearest balloon vender.

Each year we would buy-out his entire colorful medley, and attach the three dozen notes. Maggie used to take this part very seriously. “It’s important,” she’d say. “Each note knows exactly where to go, and it’s owner will be waiting to receive it.” We'd watch them float into the sky until they disappeared. But I never really watched the balloons... Instead I would watch Maggie. And when Maggie died, I watched Fiona. Fiona smile just like her mom used to. Her eyes light up when a balloon exploded in the air. She'd turn to me and squeal that someone was about to get their note.

Nestled in my pocket were the blank slips of paper. In my other pocket were two pens. I felt the plastic snap, and ink smearing through my fingers when the pressure I applied reached its fatal limit . This immediately conjured up a grisly metaphor; I shuddered when the ink turned from blue to red. I could wait no longer. I had called home, the police station, and every hospital; but no one could help.

I had slipped back into the building, past the security and other uniformed personnel that were always wanting to chat about my latest article. My office had been crowded with people, a group huddled around my desk -- my boss looking concerned. Deadlines. There’s always a deadline; I never thought my child would be one of them.

Here I was, still staring at the vicious cursor, not knowing what to say. I had never written a missing person’s bulletin. Fiona’s picture lay strewn on my desk, weathered with deep lines from where I unfolded it multiple times. It was all I had with me; Fiona on that bench, thinking hard about what to write. “It’s important” Fiona had said.

“Hello, Bill. Where have you been?” my boss asked calmly from the doorway of his office.

“I’m sorry, Stan, I can’t do this right now. Fiona is missing…I need to find her!”

The clamor of hurried footsteps sounded down the hall, until the doorway was filled with co-workers. I paid them little attention, until one sauntered casually towards me. As I looked up, something sharp was expertly jabbed into the side of my neck.

            

“We’ve been trying to find you, Bill,” my boss answered in a reserved voice. 


 I gaped, immobile, the drug rendering me instantly paralyzed.

           

 “Take him to his room please,” my boss said.

“Right away, Dr. Pritchett,” the man carrying me replied.

I moaned, unable to speak, gazing towards the picture of Fiona. 


My boss’ eyes flitted to it. He sighed and smiled warmly at me. “Louise, please take Mr. Holden’s picture to his room.”

            

“Of course, Dr. Pritchett.” Her tone was obedient, but her eyes were ambivalent.

The young group by the doorway held their clipboards to their chest, watching with fascinated observant eyes. I heard one whisper, “Is that a picture of his daughter?”

 My boss turned around to answer her politely. “No, Melody.”


 I heard one last thing before being strapped to a bed, fading into darkness.

           

  “Bill doesn’t have any children."

 

© 2011 Cara Rosalie


My Review

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Featured Review

I think you are to be applauded for this. Not only in the way you have handled the review below but in your use of language and storytelling. It is really hard to set yourself up as a character with which you have no relation. You have created a male, older than yourself, with a history. That is so hard. Don't underestimate how this only comes naturally to a very small number of writers. I disagree completely that the story has no resolution. In fine tradition, you have pivoted the whole story in the last few lines. And you have made it work. I always dread reading fiction on this site but this one was a very pleasant surprise. You have some punctuation and grammar issues but really and truly, with this kind of imagination and enthusiasm, they will all iron out naturally. Congrats. Let me know if you write more. You might like to read Jim Parson on here who is also a fiction writer. I think you will appreciate his style.

Posted 11 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

WOW, this was amazing. I loved it. It really had me hooked.

Posted 11 Years Ago


You write well. The story is always the writers'. The writer listens to, or reads,
criticism. The writer then reflects upon that criticism, and then tells the critic to bog off. Works for me. Seriously, one accepts what one agrees with after reflection, or rejects what one does not agree with. With a smile.
My view when I had finished thinking about the story was that the ending did spoil what had been a piece of really good writing that was building up nicely. The turn at the end was not sufficient enough , in my view, to stand beside what had gone before.
You do write well. As I read I was not held up by any grammar issues; having read the review on semi-colons I checked and could only see two. Both were being used properly as far as I know.
I like semi-colons. These little pieces of instruction are there to help the writer convey to the reader exactly how it is to be read in order to achieve the same 'voice' - inner or outer - of the protagonist(s). Similarly, leaving them out conveys the 'voice' also.
Just write. You write very well.
ATB
Alex. (One of Narnie's boys)



Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Disclaimer: Not sure what the standard protocol is on responding to comments left. If I am supposed to reply elsewhere, just let me know :)

Narnie...Thank you so very much for your kind words. The time you took to not only read the story, but to respond intelligently, humbles me. I'm thrilled You enjoyed it. I suppose you can't please everyone, right? :)

*Sigh* Yes, yes... I know I have a horrible understanding of grammar and punctuation. I am learning -- so utterly and painful slowly -- how to implement the correct usage. Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who is not punctuation inept and who can save me from most of the humiliation :)

You are a beautiful writer and I look forward to reading more of your work.

Jim...Thank you as well for such a thoughtful review. That someone of your caliber enjoyed a piece of mine, is too good for words! As it is reaching past three a.m. here on the west coast, I am going to hit the sack and will read your work tomorrow when the words aren't blurring together :)

Love your comment about the semi-colon. As I have already outed myself above, I will say again that punctuation is like a foreign language for me. I have only the basics! Thank you, look forward to your story :)

Posted 11 Years Ago


Narnie sent me and I couldn't be happier. She must have know this is exactly my taste...a story well written with information leaked gradually to keep you guessing, a perfectly developed protagonist and a delicious twist ending! I could have written this if I had half of your command of the language and your brilliant use of metaphor. The ending was perfect...I never saw it coming. And that balloon thing? Genius! I'm doing that with my daughter at the first opportunity! (Even though it's illegal in LA.) A very intelligent, very imaginative write. Well done!

I only have one issue and it has nothing to do with the story or your telling of it. Either you really love semi-colons or you are typing in Word first. Word incorrectly suggests them for every comma...don't listen! Semi-colons are the antichrist. Ha ha!

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I think you are to be applauded for this. Not only in the way you have handled the review below but in your use of language and storytelling. It is really hard to set yourself up as a character with which you have no relation. You have created a male, older than yourself, with a history. That is so hard. Don't underestimate how this only comes naturally to a very small number of writers. I disagree completely that the story has no resolution. In fine tradition, you have pivoted the whole story in the last few lines. And you have made it work. I always dread reading fiction on this site but this one was a very pleasant surprise. You have some punctuation and grammar issues but really and truly, with this kind of imagination and enthusiasm, they will all iron out naturally. Congrats. Let me know if you write more. You might like to read Jim Parson on here who is also a fiction writer. I think you will appreciate his style.

Posted 11 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

@RM Americano -- I'm sorry you felt as if the story melted on you...I could explain to you the story does have an ending; but that wouldn't change the fact that you didn't like it. In short, Bill is a metal patient who has escaped the asylum. In his insanity, he's conjured a very convoluted delusion to cope and rationalize the inherent histrionics that come with being mentally unstable.

This story was entered into a contest entitled "Missing" where someone had to be missing and the story needed told from the stand point of the one doing the searching. It had a word limit, which was stifling, but I made do.

To answer your last question. Fiction's main responsibility is to provide entertainment. I wasn't writing for a medical journal or the National Geographic. I simply took an idea and ran with it. The significance is in the story-telling, not the story.

Cheers

Posted 11 Years Ago


Interesting bit of madness, but why is there no resolution?

The ending is a meltdown, which I guess correlates with Bill's masked insanity, but it doesn't really end the story.

What, if any, is the significance of him missing this lost, imaginary daughter?

Posted 11 Years Ago


0 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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494 Views
8 Reviews
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Added on March 11, 2011
Last Updated on March 12, 2011
Tags: Missing, Father, Daughter

Author

Cara Rosalie
Cara Rosalie

CA



About
Sarcastic, Lover of all things Good, Perfectionist Pita Chip a-holic, Maddeningly indecisive, Romantic, Obsessive Compulsive about...everything. more..

Writing
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