Little Jessica Hall used one of the chairs from the dining table to climb up onto the counter. She was peering out the window above the kitchen sink. Her eyes gazed past the backyard and into the woods beyond. She turned her head and faced her father, who was at the dining table, sipping on coffee and reading the paper.
"Maybe I could go too, Daddy?"
Michael Hall looked up from his paper and smiled at his daughter. "You think you're old enough, do you?"
Jessica quickly climbed down from the counter and ran over to her father. She smiled as she put her arm around his neck. "I'll be ten in two months."
Michael returned the smile. "That's true."
"So I can go?"
Before Michael could answer, Linda Hall came into the kitchen. "Go where?"
"I was asking Daddy if I could help find this year's Christmas tree."
Linda walked over to the chair that was pulled up to the kitchen counter. She grabbed it and carried/dragged it over to its proper place. "Oh, you were, were you?"
Linda and Michael made eye contact as they shared a husband and wife moment, both of them enjoying the little game they were playing with their daughter.
Jessica continued to squirm, thinking of a new point to be made in favor of her going along on the annual family trek. "I..." She went silent for a moment, deep in thought. "I...could help carry it home." She looked at both of her parents, longing for a final answer. "Please?"
Jessica turned her head toward her brother, Erik. Fifteen-year-old - blond hair - blue-eyed Erik. He entered the kitchen and walked straight to the refrigerator. Before anyone could answer him - or stop him - he grabbed the milk and began drinking right out of the carton.
Erik quickly put the carton back in the refrigerator. He wiped off the milk mustache from his upper lip as he looked at his mother. "Sorry, Mom." He walked over to Jessica, and reached out with his hand as he tried to mess up her hair. Jessica ducked just in time. "Please what, Squirt?"
Jessica ran behind her father, using him as a shield. "Please can I go help pick out the family Christmas tree."
Michael enjoyed having a newcomer in the game. "What do you think, Erik? Should she come with us this year?"
Jessica protested. "You can't leave it up to him!"
Erik put on his best 'serious' face. "I don't know..."
Jessica's head began to slowly go down, and her bottom lip gave way to her best pouting posture.
"She sure is young for something like that."
Jessica continued to pout.
Erik smiled. "Oh, what the heck? Why not?"
Jessica's head quickly jerked up, the smile returning to her face.
"You mean it?"
Jessica looked around, making eye contact with everyone in the room.
Finally, Michael laughed. "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the newest member of the 'Hall Family Christmas Tree Expedition.' Miss Jessica Hall!"
Applause was had all around as Jessica leaped up and down, smiling from ear to ear.
Beyond the backyard of the Hall residence, just on the edge of the tree-line, but close enough to see into the kitchen window, the same window that moments earlier little Jessica had been peering through...the demon Lucius looked on...
Nine year old Jessica is lost.
And she's not alone...
a max adventure
Lost Child (a novella in ebook format) is now available at the FaithWriters ebook store for $1.99:
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