From Farm to Fame: Haylie- Chapter Twenty-Two

I hated being stuck waiting at home for somebody to call with information about Ericka, waiting for any information at all, good or bad. I wanted to be out with everybody who was looking for her, which seemed to include half the town. I loves small towns for that, everybody knows everybody and everything that’s going on and word spreads really fast, it can be annoying when you don’t want people meddling in your business, but it’s wonderful when everybody comes together to help each other out. Max insisted I stay home because somebody needed to be there if Ericka came back and somebody needed to be there for Maya when she woke up; I understood his point, but I still felt like a bad mother for just sitting around the house where I couldn’t do anything to help while my daughter was missing.

I hated the situations that kept replaying in my mind, about what might have happened to her. A massive blizzard had settled in overnight; the temperatures were dangerously cold, and the snow was so thick that it was nearing white-out conditions; I imagined her lying frozen to death somewhere. Of course, I worried about Max being outside in the blizzard looking for her, though he seemed immune to the cold somehow, and I worried about my siblings driving back in it. The conditions certainly wouldn’t aid in the search either. I worried about what Chase was up to; why was he there in the first place? Maybe he was just really desperate, but he couldn’t actually have believed I’d forgive him, could he? If he was that desperate, what would he do to get what he wanted? My biggest question though was how did he find me? We hadn’t spoken a word to each other since I’d been in moonlight falls, and I couldn’t imagine anybody telling him where I was since everybody hated him and never wanted us to be together. I couldn’t think of any reasonable explanation for how he had found me, and I could trust him to not use our daughter to get what he wanted.

I dug out my spell books, which had never been unpacked from moving to Hidden Springs; I already knew how to cast all the spells I used on a regular basis and many that would probably seldom or never use, it was all pretty straightforward. I just had to try and find something that would help me find Ericka, there had to be something, magic could solve everything. I pulled up a chair to the dining room window and sat there trying to watch out the window while searching for something to help find her; not that it was any use to watch out the window since I couldn’t see much but snow, but it helped slightly to think that I might if it lightened up a bit be able to catch the silhouette through the snow of somebody walking up the pathway with Ericka, or her walking up it herself. 

I was having no luck finding anything and having heard nothing yet from anybody out looking, my fears were only getting worse; I was so lost in thought worrying and trying to figure something out, that I hadn’t noticed Maya had woken up until she started yelling at me and tugging on my arm. “Mommy! Why are ignoring me? Mommy!”

“Huh? Oh, I’m sorry sweetie, I didn’t hear you.” I looked over at her and she looked nearly as upset as I felt, I’d wondered if there was anything she knew that I didn’t. She and Ericka were the best of friends, and I was sure they told each other things that they’d never tell me. I didn’t usually worry about it, it wasn’t like I’d told dad everything that I told my friends or my siblings when I was their age, and they were good girls who’d never given me a reason to worry before. “What’s wrong?”

I let her hop up and sit on my lap, hugging her as tight as I could. I wanted to comfort her, but I was just so happy to have her safe in my arms that I wanted to keep it that way. “Where’s Ericka? I’m worried about her… ”

“Uh….I…. uh…. I don’t know. She seems to have run away… Max is looking for her, and your auntie Merissa and your uncles are coming back to look for her too, we’re waiting here in case she comes home. Why are you so worried, did she tell you anything?”

“She’s really scared wherever she is, I can feel it too, and I’m scared for her. I just want her to come home and not be scared or sad.” It wasn’t a relief to know that Ericka was scared wherever she was, but it was a slight relief to know that meant she was still alive somewhere at least, though it was still concerning that I didn’t know for how long; I knew how powerful that special connection between twins was, and it was the most reliable information so far.

“I do too. Is she sad about anything other than what happened yesterday?” I understood how it could have just seemed like too much for her to take in all at once, and how it might be upsetting anyway, but I just didn’t understand what had her upset enough to run away.

“She’s sad because the kids at school are mean to her.”

“How are they mean to her?”

“They tell her that she’s the ugly twin, and the stupid one. Nobody will sit with her, or play with her at recess or lunch.” It was true that Maya had better grades, but Ericka still had great grades, she was far from stupid. Of course I thought they were both adorable girls, but they did look very different and I had noticed that people did seem to find something more endearing about Maya. I just couldn’t believe that anybody would stoop so low and be so cruel to my little girl; worse I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed that something was wrong before. I felt like I failed as a parent.

“Why didn’t either of you tell me this sooner? I need to know these things, or I can’t do anything to change it. It’s not acceptable for anybody to be insulting your sister and making her feel bad.”

“I’m sorry mommy. I just don’t want them to tease her for tattling too.”

“It’s okay sweetie, I’m not mad. I just need to know in the future, okay?”

“Okay mommy.”

We sat in silence for a while, just watching out the window, or attempting too. Watching as more snow seemed to fall harder and faster, listening as the winds picked up. At some point we stopped long enough for me to make sure Maya ate, I didn’t feel well enough to eat myself, but I wanted to make sure she ate anyway. Then we went back to watching out the window, watching as it seemed to get darker even through all the white of the snow. Eventually Maya started complaining that she wasn’t feeling well, she did look awful, so I tucked her into my bed like I always did when they were sick and made sure she fell asleep before going back to watching out the window.

It was sometime in the very early hours of the morning, after the storm had finally calmed down, that the cop car pulled up in front of the house. I just prayed that they had Ericka, as it was too dark to tell if she was in the car or not, and that they weren’t there to bring me bad news.