Prompt courtesy of Cake.shortandsweet‘s Wednesday Write In.
The posters were stapled to poles and taped in the store windows for the last week. The kind of thing you see but don’t really. One of the many things lost in the blur when you live in the city.
A little girl was missing. Last seen the previous Thursday. Someone called her school and said there was a family emergency, the principal herself walked down the quiet hallway, her chunky heels echoing in the absence of hollering children scuttling from one room to the next. She knocked at the door, told the teacher and followed his eyes as he searched among the tops of the student’s heads.
The girl looked up when called and walked over. The principal knelt down and said she was excused and that her father was coming to pick her up. The girl looked confused but the teacher and principal chalked it up to the jarring break in routine. The girl and her principal walked back through the empty hallways to the rear parking lot and waited.
A man stepped out of a late model sedan and walked over. He shook hands with the principal and apologized for the disruption. He evaded answering any question directly, instead steered the conversation back to how awful he felt about the whole thing. The little girl looked up at the principal.
The principal looked down and wanted to say so many things. But her professionalism and hidden fears just let her smile and urge the girl toward the man. She released the girl’s hand and walked back into the air-conditioned halls, away from subtle feeling of guilt gnawing somewhere at the back of her mind.