Jenny was amazing. Even at the gawky age of thirteen, she had been every parent’s dream and her parents thanked God for her each and every day. Despite being older, she adored hanging out with her younger siblings, Rebecca and Julie and could often be found playing with the 7-year old twins, listening to music and helping them with their homework. The girls in turn worshiped their big sister.
“Mom, is it time to put the angel on top?” Jenny asked. Each year Jenny held the honor of topping the tree with her lighted angel, a gift from her grandmother. Janice quickly examined the large living room, proud of the holiday display that had emerged over the past several hours. “Yes, I think everything is ready. Julie, man the switches, and Jenny – adorn the tree!” Within seconds the ordinary room turned into a Currier and Ives Christmas scene. It was……extravagant. “Oh Mom, it’s the best ever!”
The Leighton family’s joyous season took a heartbreaking turn soon after Christmas.
On December 28th, Jenny disappeared without a trace. She had become a mere statistic, a memory……fading with every day that passed. The grief and sorrow that enveloped Marty, Janice and the girls was devastating. The tears flowed freely at sporadic moments, as often as one of them dared to risk the thought of Jenny’s whereabouts or her destiny.
That tragic Wednesday started out as any other: Marty had gone to work, Janice and the twins had gone shopping, and Jenny remained at home, waiting for her best friend - Brittany. When Brittany arrived, the house was quiet and the front door was ajar. She opened it and stepped half-way in: “Jennnnnnnny! Jenny, are you here? ” No one answered. She rang the doorbell several times, and still nothing. This was not like her conscientious friend, and Brittany was a little freaked out. She didn’t know if she should go back to Jenny’s room or just leave. She decided to return home and call in a little while.
About an hour later, Janice and the girls returned. They knew something was up when they walked through the unlocked door. This was against all the rules. The doors were always kept locked. Janice headed straight back to Jenny’s room to see why this agreement had been broken. Jenny’s door – wide open - revealed a haunting emptiness. She called out: “Jenny…” No answer. She went out to the living room: “Jenny!!!!” Nothing. She went back in to the kitchen and checked the refrigerator for some kind of note. Again, nothing. She didn’t want to over-react, but this was bizarre. She got on the phone and called Brittany’s house. Brittany’s response sent a chill down Janice’s spine: “When I got there, the front door was open, the house was quiet………and no one answered.” Immediately, Janice hung up and dialed 911.
Since that day, no one had seen or heard anything from Jenny. Eventually all the Christmas decorations were packed away with the exception of the angel. It was placed in the window where it would remain until Jenny was found, alive……or otherwise.
Three days before Christmas, the phone rang. Janice and Marty shot glances across the room. Janice slowly reached over to pick up the phone; she hesitated – “Hello.” There was no answer. She repeated the greeting – louder this time; “Hello!!!” Still no answer, but now she thought she heard soft breathing. “Jenny, Jenny……is that you?” Silence, and then a barely audible voice;
“Mom……Mommy” – the scarcely recognizable voice began to cry. “Mom it’s me – Jenny.” Before Janice could wave Marty over, he rushed to kneel at her feet. Anxious, he asked, “Is it her? Is it Jenny?” Janice held her finger up to her lips so as not to miss any precious utterances. She nodded. “Jenny, where are you, are you safe?”
“Yeah, Mom, yes, I’m safe.” Janice breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh Marty” she began sobbing, “thank God, she’s ok.” Jenny spoke again, “Mom, is my angel in the window?” Janice was puzzled by the question. “Yes Dear, she’s been there since you vanished. Why do you ask?”
“Mom, I was so scared, it was so dark…but every time I closed my eyes, I saw my angel……waiting for me in the window. She showed me the way……her light kept me warm, she stayed with me……Mom, she was so real……she saved me, she saved me from…
………Just then the flashing lights from a police cruiser pulled into the driveway.
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