--THERE YOU ARE
His sister was there one minute, then not. He wasn’t supposed to leave home but he’d wanted something sweet to eat and so they’d trekked four blocks from home to the convenience store with his six year old sister in tow, complaining about the bitter cold until Jessie promised to buy her a chocolate bar.
Thinking she might be pulling a prank, Jessie waited outside the store, crunching on Jolly Ranchers while shivering, nervous, angry and anxious.
An hour passed with no sign of his sis. He knew he should call the police or his parents but both options seemed terrifying.
After another hour, Jessie ran home, thinking his sister might have gone back on her own, although she hadn’t gotten her chocolate bar yet.
He scoured the house, even looking under his parents bed ,and then in the closet where his Dad’s belts—belts that were often used on Jessie and his sister--hung from hooks like petrified snakes.
She was nowhere.
When his parents arrived home from work, Jessie put TV trays in the microwave and then put the meals on plates and handed them to his mother and father who sat like bored ghouls on the sofa watching a man on television talk about faraway places. Jessie ate this dinner at the table, in silence, as he was always ordered to do. His food was gluey and tasteless and Jessie almost choked trying to swallow, so filled with fear and worry over his sister.
But then night came and morning came, days and weeks came without his sister ever showing up. His parents never said a word. After a month Jessie filled his backpack and left, not wondering if his parents would notice, but wondering who would make their meals and receive their discipline.