The camera angle was shot from above an empty seat at a mahogany dinning room table. Three other chairs were occupied by children. Alicia was eight years old. She sat across from the empty chair with her head bowed. Her long, stringy, strawberry blonde hair tickled her folded hands as her older brother Matt prayed from the head of the table.
Tabatha didn’t partake in the Blessing. The 14 year old was ten months younger than Matt. She stared at the front door from the table while she twisted a lock of her dyed, jet black hair in her fingers.
The camera’s vantage point slowly lowered as if sitting in the empty chair across from Alicia.
“Amen,” whispered the young girl. Her somber green eyes opened, gazing into the camera shot. A lone tear streaked down her freckled nose.
The camera slowly panned to Matt. His hands trembled, attempting to roll a fork of spaghetti. He looked up at his siblings.
“Let’s try to eat,” he said, trying to sound parental.
The camera panned to Tabitha who turned her attention from the front door to her brother, her eyes caked with black eyeliner.
“When do we call someone? I mean, it’s been more than a day.”
Her question was met with silence. The camera zoomed in on her face. Her green eyes watered.
The camera quickly cut to Alicia.
“Mom’s been late before, right?”
Alicia eyed Tabitha and then Matt. Her eye’s wide, hopeful.
The camera shot drifted back up to the ceiling. The three children slowly exchanged glances.
Tabitha’s right hand, balled in a fist, hammered the table.
“This is rubbish,” she blurted. “Yes, Mom has stayed out all night before. But, we always heard from her the next day. Let’s call somebody.”
Matt stood up and walked over to Tabitha.
A different camera picked up the action filming from the front door toward the children.
“We can’t call anybody. They might take us away from her and each other.”
Tabitha swished her head towards Matt.
“We have already been taken from her. Iraq took dad, and booze stole mother.”
Alicia quickly pushed back from the table and ran toward the camera, tears pooling in her eyes. As she opened the front door a third camera recorded from the street. Matt soon joined Alicia looking at the empty driveway.
A camera on a boom began to drift upward above the front yard.
Tabitha burst through the door, pushing her siblings out of the way. She pointed a finger straight up at the camera and hollered.
Tabitha’s scream echoed as the daylight slowly disappeared and darkness settled into night.
Only three lights were lit in separate upstairs bedrooms in the house. A camera zoomed in toward Alicia’s window. The young girl lay curled up on her bed hugging a teddy bear.
From Matt’s bedroom window, the camera focused on the young man paging through a photo album at his desk.
Rock music filtered out through Tabitha’s window. The camera zoomed in on an empty bed with a razor blade lying on white sheets. The camera shot continued into the untidy room. The camera zoomed down the upstairs hallway toward a faint light in the master bedroom. Sitting on the bed, Tabitha was holding her mother’s Bible. She opened the book to a page marked with a Kleenex.
The camera’s vantage faded back out of the house and with the help of a helicopter flew, recording in slow motion, toward the flashing blue lights of police cruisers at the end of a dirt road on the edge of town. A crumpled green sedan lay upside down in a ditch.
The camera then hovered above an ambulance as it raced through darkened streets. The scene cut to inside the emergency vehicle where medics tended to a bloodied woman in her mid-thirties.
The woman’s face filled the camera shot. Her eyes were closed; cheeks bruised, lips moving, whispering a Psalm.
“…though I walk through the valley…”
The scene quickly cut back to Tabitha on her mother‘s bed, whispering the same Psalm as she read.
“….surely goodness and love…”
A telephone ring interrupted Tabitha‘s reading. Tears flowed in black streaks down her face as she listened to the caller.
“Thank you, Sir,”
Tabitha dropped the phone unto the bed. She picked the Bible back up and removed the tissue to wipe her eyes.
“Matt, Alicia! She‘s safe!”
The camera panned back out of the house and faded to black.
Scripture reference: Psalms 23 (NIV)
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