Janefer stepped into her cool house. The air was chilly because of the air conditioning. “I’ll be back, Mom. I’m gonna grab a sweater.” She picked her favorite powder- blue sweater with the Aeropostale logo on it. She threw it over her head, and snuggled in the cozy warmth.
Her mother was in the kitchen, making their favorite tea: Spiced Apple Chai with whole milk and honey. She handed Janefer a mug and motioned for her to sit down. Janefer breathed in the spicy aroma and raised her eyebrows in questioning. “Well, it all started when Dad lost his first patient. The patient had a brain tumor, and your father tried to perform surgery, but… it was unsuccessful. The patient was already so weak from the chemotherapy, and the surgery was just too hard on his body. It was devastating for the family and for your father to have the loss of that patient, especially for Dad, who had to bear the pain of losing a patient, and the blame and hatred he received from the family. That family didn’t take any drastic measures against him right then, but eventually your father lost a couple more patients, most of them not his fault, and some of them he couldn’t even do anything about, but to make them comfortable. Even so, the families of the loved ones, and sometimes even the friends blamed your father and would try to hurt him in some way, or as revenge.”
Janefer blinked, trying to take it all in. Yes, she would probably feel sad and angry if she lost someone, but would she try to hurt the doctor or his family? No, I wouldn’t. She finally decided. “So, you’re saying that someone who lost a loved one is trying to hurt me and Mel as revenge since they can’t do it to Dad?” Her mother’s eyes shone with tears not yet shed. “I hope that’s not the case, but…. yes, it’s very possible.” Mrs. Davis glanced at her watch. “Oh, I have to get to work. I’m sorry we don’t have more time to talk, Janefer.” She took a sip of her tea and grabbed her purse. She stopped by Janefer and gave her a long hug. “I love you so much, Janefer. I just wish this could all be over.” Janefer didn’t want to let go. She felt like a scared child, clinging to her mother for comfort. Finally, Janefer pulled back and sighed, digging her hands into the pockets of her jeans. Mrs. Davis sighed as well. “I better get going. My boss is going to fire me if I’m not there on time.”
Janefer giggled, first a small one that bubbled up her throat but eventually grew into an unstoppable laugh. She knew her mother was the owner of Speed Dial Cafe, but she didn’t know why it was so hilariously funny. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she leaned against the counter. Janefer looked at her mother who she found out was laughing hysterically as well. Janefer hiccuped, and took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. She wiped her eyes and laughed softly. Her mother looked at her with eyes shining. It had been a long time since Janefer had laughed. Really laughed. She hadn’t ever been the same since her father had gotten sick. Janefer became serious again, although there was laughter in her eyes. Mrs. Davis glanced at her watch again. “I better go. I’ll be home by six.” She laughed as she walked out the door. Janefer realized she hadn’t had a good laugh in a long time, especially not with her mother. How selfish I’m being, thinking that I can have a great time with my Mom when Mel is still missing. She tried to focus on her earlier conversation with her mother. “Maybe I should try talking to some of the people, see if they have a motive.” She mused. This isn’t a detective novel. A voice in her head reprimanded her. “I know it could be dangerous,” She said to no one in particular. “But I have to, if it will help to find Mel.”
Mel woke up again, dreaming about bowling with her family. She had just gotten a strike, and everyone was cheering for her, when this dark cloud came into the room with a huge 300 ton bowling ball and smashed it onto her lane, creating pieces that flew everywhere. Except the pieces only hit her, in the legs. Her shirt was sweaty, her hair damp. Everything seemed foggy again. Where was she now? It didn’t seem like the place she was before. Where was the place she was before? A hotel? A house? She was so confused. Her throat was parched, begging for water. Her tongue felt thick and dehydrated. Her lips were dry and cracked. She ran her tongue over her lips, hoping it would put some moisture back into them. “Please, Lord.” She said in barely a whisper. “I know you are there. Please help me. Please make someone find me, and soon.” She wasn’t really scared, but the thing that scared her the most was dying alone. Although she wasn’t a verse expert on the Bible, one verse came to mind that every child in her church as a kid learned. It was Psalm 23, but one verse in particular. Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me……rod and staff they comfort me…….. you are with me..with me…. She drew more drowsy and fell asleep with those words to comfort her. She was not alone.
Janefer locked all of the doors of the house, checked the windows, and was about to write her mother a note, when she heard a noise come from outside. Her heart started beating, so loudly she was afraid it would burst. She slowly opened a drawer in the kitchen and pulled out a ladle. It wasn’t much, but maybe it would scare away whoever was out there. A ladle. Really? What am I thinking. She crept outside, the ladle poised over her head. There it was again. A rustling sound in their huge lilac bushes. It almost sounded like the wind, but something was different. There was a whimpering sound. Janefer’s eyes widened with fear as she took a step closer and pulled at the bushes. She gasped at what she saw. No! It can’ t be!