I stared at the poster for a bit, perplexed.
"Have You See Me?" the poster asked. The face staring back at me looked familiar. I had seen her somewhere, hadn't I? I called over my wife.
"Honey, look at this poster," I said, pointing to it. "Does she look familiar to you?"
"I don't think so," she said. "Why?"
"I don't know. I get the feeling I've seen her before, but I don't know where."
"She probably just looks like someone."
"Yeah, maybe," I said, unconvinced.
For the rest of the day, I couldn't get the young girl's picture out of my mind. I thought about where I'd seen her. Was it at church? No. Was it one of our daughter's classmates? No, I didn't think so. I tried to put it out of my mind. My wife was probably right. She just looked like someone.
That night, I had trouble falling asleep. She was still there, her big brown eyes looking at me, pleading with me. When I finally did fall asleep, I had a dream. It was her. Well, I mean, it was... parts of her. I could see a body with a blurred face, but then her face kept coming to me in flashes. She was running through the park. She wore jeans and a purple shirt. I woke up, confused at first, but then the pieces came together, and I knew where I had seen her. I squinted at the clock. 3:02AM. I hated to do this, but I had to know.
I nudged my wife. She groaned as she woke up. "Honey," I said, "I hate to do this do you, but I have to know." That girl who's picture I saw in the store... was she at the company picnic a few months ago?
My wife groaned again. "I don't know honey. Go back to sleep."
I tried to put it out of my mind and finally fell back asleep. Then I felt a nudge. I groaned and looked at the clock. 4:34AM. "Hun?" my wife asked. I groaned a response. "I... I think you're right. I think we did see that girl at the company picnic."
We both sat up in bed and looked at each other. We knew what we had to do, and neither of us were going to get any sleep until we did. We dressed and I drove back to the 24-hour store. We walked in and looked at the wall of posters. "There," we both said as we located the right poster. We stared at the it then back at each other, then at the poster again. I asked the manager for a copy, and we went home.
We sat at the table, staring at the poster. "So," I said, "The company picnic. Who did we see here with?"
"I don't know," my wife said. "I'd look for someone who doesn't stand out. No one prominent in the company would take the risk of bringing her to the picnic."
"Good point," I said. An image formed in my head of the girl getting into a car with... No. It couldn't be.
"Eric," my wife and I said simultaneously. We looked at each other, disbelief etched on our faces.
"It couldn’t be," my wife said.
"I know, but... I'll ask him who the girl was, and see if I can detect anything out of the ordinary."
That night, I reported to my wife. "He said it was his niece who was staying with him for the weekend, but he seemed really uncomfortable when I asked. I think he's even brought her to the office a few times. Always said he had to pick her up from school because she was sick. It doesn't make sense if it was the same girl. And you know, I had never seen her before, until about a year ago."
We looked at the date she went missing. It fit. The details didn't make sense. If it was his daughter, why didn't I know about her before? He was single, wasn't he? He never mentioned his wife, and he never mentioned other kids. Why would he take the risk of bringing her to the office and the picnic? It just didn't make sense. I couldn’t figure it out, but I knew who'd be able to help untangle this mess. I took a deep breath and picked up the phone.
"Hello? I think I have a lead on a missing child."
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