Part 55

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I've ben on the internet for hours. I've found the small town, surfed their web page and combed through tons of Facebook profiles that list the city as their locations. I'm not any closer to finding my sister, but I feel like I'm going in the right direction. My desk is a huge mess of post-it notes and scribbled information. Every time I think about finding her there, I worry that maybe she doesn't want to be found.

I peel my eyes from the computer screen and notice for the first time that my room is completely dark. I stretch my neck and feel the tight muscles pull across my spine and shoot pain between my shoulder blades. Hours of sitting here have taken a toll on my body. I push away from the computer and stand up. After a few quick stretches I realize I'm starving and head down to the kitchen to grab a snack. I don't take the time to microwave anything. Instead I grab a bag of chips and a soda and head back to my room.

My seat is still warm when I sit back down. Looking at the corner of the screen I can see that it's almost midnight. I dig around in the mess of notes and find my cell phone, which must have shut off a few hours ago. I've clearly been in a bubble. I do a little more digging and find my charger, plugging it in and feeling the vibration in my palm as if my little phone is purring, thanking me for finally charging its battery.

I minimize the browser, determined to take a small break from my investigating. My email icon shows 14 new messages. Of course, 12 of them are not for me. I quickly click through them, laughing and forwarding one that asks the advice woman what she should do about discovering her husband has a secret fetish for a popular kid's cartoon character. It will be up on the wall as soon as I'm back in Arizona.

The last two were actually intended for me. One is from Garver letting me know he is bringing Bailey with him and won't be there to meet me at the airport since he has to get them set up for the summer in a small place that leases month to month. I admire their determination to stay together while he finishes out his time with the Corps.

The last email makes me smile even before I open it. I look at the time that it was sent and cringe at how long it took me to get back to her. I think about her having to sit through that stupid practice and how she should be messing around and enjoying her last few days of semi-freedom before the world expects her to become an adult. I actually laugh out loud after reading her first paragraph, but when I reach the P.S., I'm flooded with the deepest feeling of dread that makes my stomach lurch up into my throat. The chips I just ate fight their way back up to my mouth and I have to swallow down my soda in an effort to keep them at bay.

"Fuck," I blurt into the darkness. I rub my temples and squeeze my eyes shut, my pulse throbbing in my neck and behind my eyes. It's happy to headache in 2.3 seconds and I wipe the small post-in notes away from my keyboard—not caring that many flutter to the ground. I don't hit reply. Instead, I pull up my browser and begin a very important search. 

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