August 4, 2013
Note: This entry is from the perspective of Leah’s mom, Sue Clearwater.
Angrily, I march to the top of the stairs and down the hall. I had been calling to Leah for the last five minutes and she hadn’t come downstairs yet. She had been so moody and upset lately, it was driving me nuts. Most of the time I kept myself calm in front of her, but more and more often I was loosing it, and we would fight before she stomped away to her room, angry and crying. If only I could take away her pain, could soothe the bitter remains of her last few years, maybe then we wouldn’t fight so much.
I can’t understand how some mothers handle so many kids. Seth and Leah were easier to raise when they were little, but now as teenagers, gray hairs are completely taking over my head. Harry and I had planned to have three or four kids originally, but even before Leah was born we had complications. Those only grew more frequent and heart-breaking after Seth was born. As he went into kindergarten, the idea faded to the back of my mind. I hadn’t thought of it for years until now.
“Leah!” I say loudly as I knock on her door. I already checked the knob and as expected, it was locked. “It’s almost noon! You need to get up and do something. You will not be spending your Christmas vacation locked away in your room. I don’t care if you sleep in a little, but not this much. Get up now and come downstairs.”
I go back downstairs to the kitchen fixing a sandwich for myself and one for Leah since we’re the only ones home. Harry went fishing with Billy and Charlie today since none of them had to work. It’s not that we need more fish—we have a chest freezer full—but that’s their favorite thing to do together. Seth went with Cody and his mother to Port Angeles to do some more Christmas shopping.
Ten minutes later, Leah has still not made an appearance and I haven’t heard the creaks in the floor from her moving around.
“Leah!” I shout and when there is no answer, I storm up the stairs again, this time with the skeleton key in hand.
She still doesn’t answer as I unlock the door, although I know she must hear the knob rattle. I swing the door open to see…nothing. Leah’s bed is neatly made, as if she had gotten up. I know for a fact, she hadn’t come downstairs. On instinct, my eyes sweep the room, and I go inside. Something is off. I look around the room again and again, and my gaze finally stops on the window. It’s unlocked. La Push in December isn’t exactly warm enough weather to keep your window open, and when I cleaned all the windows on Wednesday, it was locked.
I hurriedly open it and look out. None of the upstairs windows had screens on them when we moved in since it was such an old house. Leah’s emergency ladder has been unrolled and the breeze causes it to clatter softly against the panels along the side of the house.
With my heart pounding in my chest, I huff downstairs. Seth has the phone with him today, so I know I can’t find Leah that way. I take a quick walk around the inside of the house, looking out the windows to see that Leah’s car isn’t here. She parks around the side of the house, so none of us would have noticed this morning that it was gone. I dial Harry’s number and wait as it rings and rings. Finally he answers.
“Harry, Leah’s gone, ” I cry into the phone.
“What do you mean gone?” he asks. I can hear his mood changing from the lighthearted atmosphere of fishing to scared. I know the feeling. Not ten minutes ago, I was angry with Leah for sleeping in so late and now I was terrified.
“I thought she was just sleeping in. So I went up to wake her and she wasn’t there. Her window was unlocked and the ladder was unrolled. I have a bad feeling about this, Harry. What if she’s really gone?” Tears spring to my eyes as I speak.
“I’m sure she’s somewhere around town. You know how she is. She’ll be back.”
“Would you please just talk to Charlie?”
“Yes, honey. Give me a minute. ” I heard noise in the background as he spoke to Charlie.
“Sue?” Charlie’s voice came over the line.
“Yes?” I asked.
“When was the last time you saw or heard from Leah?” he inquires, Police Mode kicking in.
“Last night. She got off work at nine and was home awhile after that. She ate a sandwich and then said she was going to bed.”
“Does she have a car?” I look out the window once more, hoping her car is back, as he asks.
“Yes. It’s not here.”
“All right, well I cane come back with Harry and have a look around. We can go out looking and call around, but technically since she’s eighteen, she’s free to come and go legally. We can’t file a missing person’s report for twenty-four hours so even if she left last night, we have to wait until this time tomorrow because she could have left ten minutes ago. Does that make sense?” Panic consumes me as he speaks.
“Yes, but, Charlie, how can I sit around for that long? What am I supposed to do? She could be hurt or—”
“I know, we’ll find her, Sue. We’ll cut our fishing trip short and come help you look, okay?”
“Yes, yes. Please help me find my baby.” Tears stream from my eyes now as I whisper into the phone.
“We’ll find her, Sue. We’re heading back now, ” Charlie reassures.
I mumble something of an affirmation and hear the click of the phone as he hangs up.
With the phone still closed in my fist, I go to the dinning room window. It caves outward in a long half circle so you can see the whole street. I stand there and wait until the men pull into the driveway. I cry and the sky cries with me for my missing, troubled daughter.
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