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Runaway

December is the longest month. That year it was unusually cold. Every time you picked up a newspaper or turned on the news there was a report about how 'unusually cold' the weather was and how it was unexplainable. All I could wonder was how could they not know?

Six months! Hadn't they noticed that the days were longer? Hadn't they noticed how the sun went dim? Hadn't they noticed that the holiday festivities were overlooked in the house next door? Didn't they know that my Templeton was missing?

Years of rising at dawn to make breakfast for my children and my dear late husband have enamored me with the inability to sleep past six AM. So, as it was, I was already awake when the pounding on my front door snapped me out of my early morning reverie. Quickly donning a housecoat, I rushed to answer the insistent knock...

"John?"

He was out of breath and he looked frantic and for the life of me I couldn't think of what could get him into such a state except...except for news about Templeton...

"Templeton? Have they...?"

I saw the hurt flow across his features but it was rapidly replaced by worry over the current matter. Shaking his head in answer to my question he cleared his thoat and took a deep breath to steady himself, "Murdock, have you seen him? We can't find him."

Startled and confused I shook my head, "No, he's not in the house?"

If it was possible he looked even more worried than just the minute before. "No, I poked my head in to check on him this morning and he wasn't in his bed? BA and I have searched the whole house from top to bottom and he's not in there. I was hoping he came here"

"I haven't seen him." Thinking back to when my Jimmy had been a little boy, it occured to me that perhaps..."Is anything missing? Did he take his coat?"

Startled by the question he nodded, "Yes, and there's a picture from Fa...from Face's room missing and Billy Jr. is gone too. You think he ran away?"

"Sounds like it. But id don't understand, why today? why not yesterday or a month ago?"

"Oh God, Murdock..."

"What? What is it John?"

"It's...it's Face's birthday..."

We stood in silent contemplation for a moment, odd how we didn't feel the biting cold, when I suddenly knew where HM had gone. I should have been quicker but I blame it on the hour. "John, I know where he is! Come in, I'll dress and we'll get BA."

It only took me a matter of minutes to ready myself before I was leading John back through the door. For a woman my age I think I do pretty well, despite what the doctors say. Need to slow down my ass!

We got BA, poor thing, he was perhaps more frantic than John. Bless his heart. Leading them down the beach path I clearly read the confusion when I stopped half way down and motioned to the barely noticable trail leading to Templeton's secret spot.

Waving away they're confusion, I motioned them to follow me. We were almost there, just one bush left to push away, when I whispered what I thought they should know, "This was Templeton's spot. He would come here to think. HM may not like you to be here but I know he needs you."

I saw the hurt in they're eyes at the mention of Templeton, but they both just nodded as I gripped each of their shoulders as they passed me. I could hear them as they settled down beside the distraught pilot. Peeking around the bush I saw HM clutching Billy Jr. in one arm and the picture of him and Templeton from Templeton's room in the other, while he himself was clutched tightly between John and BA.

As I turned to start back up the trail, I heard John say, "It's ok, Captain. We're gonna find him. I promise."

***

Back in my kitchen, sipping a cup of hot coffee, I played the scene over and over in my head. I know that HM needed the comfort, they all did, but I couldn't help thinking that John's promise was reckless. HM was fragile at best before this whole thing started, I don't think he could stand much more of this. And even if John is right, it's been six months...I think while we all want to believe, in our hearts, that Templeton is all right, safe and sound somewhere and there's a reason he hasn't come home, in our minds we know that it's unlikely and we just want to know what happened.

With my mind drifting back over the last year, my heart sent a silent prayer for the one missing followed by three more for the ones left behind and one extra just for help to make it through. I turned on the television and tuned it to the morning news where they were announcing how unusually cold it was...

***Fini***