The Missing Boy (Conclusion)
by D. B. Mauldin
As I waited by the phone, my mind started to wander. I thought about how withdrawn David had been for the last year or so. I had originally thought it was just a part of growing-up, but what if that wasn’t it? What if it was drugs? I didn’t want to think about that. Was David being bullied at school? I will have to ask Walter if he has said anything to him, because David didn’t talk to me anymore.
I thought back to the sweet little boy David had been; how much fun we had together. We read together, performed science experiments together, but best of all we talked together. As David grew older, he began to stiffen when I hugged him. He would gently push me away and say, “Ugh Mom, I’m not a baby anymore.” Trying to tuck him in at night or to give him a ‘good-night’ kiss, drew a similar, but more explosive, response. I understood and gave him his space, but it seemed to turn into a large gap. Maybe, I gave him too much space?
Suddenly, the phone rang, jarring me out of my reverie. I glanced at the clock; it was 1:00 pm. I couldn’t believe I had sat there thinking for over two hours. I answered the phone on the third ring.
“How are you?” It was Walter.
“I’m fine. I was just sitting here thinking back to how David was before he withdrew from me; trying to figure out what I missed.”
“I understand,” Walter replied. “I’m just leaving the school. After looking everywhere I could think of, I thought, maybe I could talk to some of David’s teachers and friends to try to get an idea on what has been going on at school, but they wouldn’t let me. They said I would have to wait until school let out this afternoon. I was going to head over to the police department to give them a heads-up on the situation. I know they will not issue a ‘missing persons bulletin’ until the person has been missing for 24-hours, but I can at least let them know what is going on. They may even be willing to help me talk to some teachers and friends of David’s. Do you need me to come home now?”
“No, I’m fine. I like the ideas you are working on. Please, keep working on them. I will be fine.”
“Okay, then I’m headed to the police department. Call if you need me.”
After saying our goodbyes, I hung up the phone. I decided to do some more housework to help keep my mind off of things. Walter was taking care of it.
I went down to the basement to put another load of laundry in to wash. When I went back to the kitchen, I saw some crumbs on the kitchen counter, a butter knife in the sink, and the bread had been moved. I knew David was in the house. I started up the steps to his bedroom and heard the toilet flush.
I wanted to run into his room and grab him in my arms, but instead, I knocked on the door and said, “David?”
“Come on in, Mom,” David said between bites of his sandwich.
I opened the door and looked at him sitting there so innocently. I wanted to scream and shout at him for putting us through this awful day. Instead, I went in and sat down on his bed.
“David, we have been hunting for you all day,” I said with a tremble in my voice.
“I thought you heard me come in, Mom.”
“When did you come in, David?”
“I think you were in the basement. I was feeling so bad, I just wanted to climb into my bed.”
“Are you sick?”
“Yeah, my stomach wasn’t feeling good this morning and after Dad dropped me off at school, I went straight to the bathroom. I didn’t want to check in and then have to check out, I just wanted to be home in my bed. So I walked out of the school and walked home. I came in and climbed into bed to try to sleep it off. I guess it worked, because I woke up hungry and fixed me a sandwich,” David explained while holding up the half of the sandwich he hadn’t already eaten.
Suddenly, his eyes widened, he threw down the half-eaten sandwich, and ran for the bathroom closing the door behind him. I walked out of David’s bedroom and walked to my bedroom to call Walter. Walter agreed to call the school and I went back to check on my sick son.