The house was so quiet, so uninviting without Gracie in the house, and my heart was feeling as empty as the house, nothing I could do kept my mind occupied I was focusing on the fact that Gracie was gone, I missed the sounds that she brought to the house, singing Jesus Loves Me, her laughter, the way she would talk to me and tell me about school, I missed all of that.
I tried to do other things, tried to work on the books, tried to move on with my life, but Gracie was missing, and at that moment my life had ceased to exist accept for the purpose of getting Gracie back. The police came up with few leads, the cell phone calls were a dead end, the callers had covered their bases, they had used disposable cell phones.
Lord I feel as if we are running into dead ends, I want my niece back, I want her safe with me. I want to hear her laughter again.
I found myself clutching Gracie’s teddy bear, the one with the pink princess pajamas, thinking to myself how scared she must be without the teddy bear. I could not even begin to imagine what Gracie was feeling what Gracie was thinking, all I could do was pray that the Lord would keep her safe, and lead me to her, she needed to be home, she belonged with me.
“We warned you, you were not going to win this game.” A sickening voice left the message on my answering machine repeated time, but whenever I took them to the police station to have the techs look over them, I found out the same thing over and over again, the calls could not be traced. They must of threw away the disposable cells after each use.
“This isn’t a game!” I screamed to the machine, “It’s my niece, a child and you took her away from the only home you knew.”
Maybe it didn’t make sense talking to a machine, but right now nothing made sense.
Lord give me my nice back. Let her see that I love her, that I care, that nothing anyone can say or do will change that. Let her always know that I love her. Thank you Lord.
“Miss David’s how is the book coming?” My editor called and asked me how I was coming along with the manuscript. I knew I had a deadline to meet, but everything seemed superficial with Gracie gone, my mind was always on that little girl, the precious niece I had raised like a daughter. The little girl who loved to sing Jesus Loves Me, over and over again, and wear her pink tutu’s and little crowns, a little girl who loved Veggie Tales, and would sit and watch me write. I missed Gracie, and I was so scared for her, so scared of what might come.
“Not very well.” I admitted to the editor. “I have had too much on my mind to really focus on that.”
“I heard about your niece, I am sorry.”
“Thank you.” I said, I knew I would eventually have to get back to work on my novel, I had to push myself through this, but right now even the sight of the blank paper was enough to drive me crazy. I needed to try to go on with my normal routine, everyone said that would be the best for when Gracie came home, but every day that she was gone, I felt a little more hope slipping from my fingers, and I just did not know what to do. I did not want to feel as if my life was over, and I certainly did not want to give up hope in finding my niece.
“I am going to try and meet that deadline; it’s just so hard to focus right now.”
“I understand that.” Eliza said. “And I wish I could say everything was going to be okay, and that we could bend the rules for you, but I am afraid that we can’t. You are already late, and the heads are having a fit about meeting the deadline, but they realized that this has never happened before, so they cut you a little slack.”
“I just don’t know if I am cut out for this anymore.”
“I can’t even begin to imagine what you are going through, but I am sure your niece would want you to go on with your life.”
“She was only four, this shouldn’t have happened.”
“I know if I could get the hands on whoever took her, and hurt them I would. They changed you, they hurt you, and I am more than your editor I am your friend as well and I hate to see when you are hurt.”
“I appreciate everything you are doing, and I am going to try and meet the deadline, its just been so hard.”
“It would be easier if I knew where to begin, but the police have looked through my sisters journal, and the old farm house they used to use, is empty.”
“Who used the old farm house?”
“It is sounding more like a cult my sister got herself involved with, but from what I was reading of her journals she was trying to get out, that was around the time she disappeared.”
“Do you think she’s still alive?”
“I don’t know, I wish I did I can say that sometimes I feel that she is alive trying to reach out to me, but I have had no concrete evidence yet, even those callers could have just said that to get to Gracie, which they succeeded in unfortunately, I feel as if I should have done something more to protect her.”
“You did everything you could Melinda.”
“I know that in my head, but not in my heart.”
“Well this isn’t your fault, you should not blame yourself.”
“If I wasn’t in this wheelchair, this may not have happened.”
“Melinda give me a break, you know very well that things like this happen, whether or not a person is in a wheelchair. And you have never been one to let anyone feel sorry for you, so you should not be feeling sorry for yourself, you should be working first on finding Gracie, and on your book.”
“I know, I am just having a hard time.”
“I know you are.”
The conversation ended on that note, but I knew Helen was right, I had to stop feeling sorry for myself, it certainly wasn’t doing anything to help in finding Gracie. I was not getting anything accomplished by just sulking. I needed to focus on getting Gracie back and on my writing, but more than anything I needed to focus on getting Gracie back, and that’s what I was going to do.
She’s beautiful Heather. So Tiny, but so perfect
You can hold her Melinda, she won’t break.
I don’t want to hurt her.
You won’t, it’s your legs that don’t work not your arms remember? Heather said smiling, the joy written all over her face as she held Gracie in her arms.
Are you sure you don’t mind me holding her?
I would be upset if you didn’t. She’s your niece isn’t she? Who’s going to be the one to babysit her, if I ever get a hot date?
The alarm woke me from the dream of a happier time, a time when my sister and my niece were both around, before they ended up going missing, a time when I wasn’t wondering whether my sister and niece were alive or dead. I could not let myself believe they killed Gracie, but the fact was children were killed every day and I could not change that fact, as much as I wanted to.
I wanted to live the happy dreams, to not have to wake up from them, but I could not. I wanted to move on with my life, I wanted to get past the harder moments, but I could not, not when Gracie was missing and frightened. The monsters had came and got her, but these monsters were real not of her imagination, if they had been of her imagination, if it had all only been a bad dream, then I could deal with it, but my niece was gone, and the largest chunk of my life was gone.
Lord I don’t know how I am going to get through this, I just know I need to get through this. I am need Gracie back and I need to find out what happened to Heather. They both deserve answers, and Gracie must be so scared Lord. I am so grateful for what you have done for me, so grateful but I am asking you to do this as well, I feel so empty without my niece. Please lead the police to her, and let them find her safe. I love you Lord and I thank you.
I wanted to believe everything was going to be okay, but right now my faith was lacking. I needed to move on with my life, but I had nowhere to go with Gracie gone. My niece, my precious niece, I had raised her like she was my own, and some monsters had taken her away from me.
I had not protected her, I was her guardian that’s what I was supposed to do, but I had failed. Failed in the worst way.
She wanted to capture them, and wanted to capture them in the worst way, but she was hitting dead ends. These people were not going to get away with the crimes they had committed.
Even my stories were sounding like my life. I was basically telling Gracie’s story in everything I wrote, maybe not in so many words, but her influence, and the disappearance was evident. The pain was in the pages, no matter how hard I tried to make the stories into something different. I was reliving what happened over and over again, both in my dreams, and in what I wrote.
I had to catch them, these people were monsters, and they were going to hurt others. They had to be stopped and I was going to stop them, they were not going to get away with their crimes. People were hurting, large amounts of money were missing, but more than that children were frightened, a place that had once been safe, was no longer safe, and that was worse even than the missing money, these children deserved to not live life in fear, they deserved to be children.
I was glad that I was finally getting writing done, but it was not helping the grief any. Nothing would, not until Gracie came back, my niece was missing the little girl I had raised, the Little Girl who loved to watch Veggie Tales, and who liked to eat Macaroni and Cheese, and Carrot Sticks, the little girl who brought me so much joy.
I closed my eyes remembering the good times Gracie and I shared. She was only four, but my little niece had brought me so much joy, she was bright, and had her whole life ahead of her, all I could do was pray she still had life. Pray those monsters had not taken her. I loved Gracie as if she were my own daughter. I had raised her like she was my own daughter. I could not even begin to think of her as anything less than that. She was my niece by blood, and she called me Auntie, but she never got a chance to know her real Mother, so she came to think of me as a Mother, even though she called me Auntie.
My niece needs to be found Lord, she must be so scared, and I am scared for her, I want to move on with my life, and I want her part of that moving on. I don’t know what those monsters have done to her, but I do know that she needs me, and truth is Lord I need her too. Lord my niece deserves to be found, she does not deserve to be afraid like that.