THREE

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Her name was Mary Drake. She was reported missing by her parents on March 3rd, 2016. That was three years ago. She was only one of thirteen children—all disappeared at random in the same year. I recognized them all from the pictures in Cory's folder. They hadn't completed a proper facial reconstruction yet, but she perfectly matched the description of the first girl I saw clipped to the front of Cory's folder. Though, her case went unsolved, she was never forgotten. 

Her parents must've been in shambles when they found out their little girl was snatched from the playground. She blended too well with the other kids. They'd only lost sight of her for a few seconds, but that was enough for her to disappear. I remember when the incident hit the news. This was before John and I even thought about starting a family. It was because of things like this, I strayed from the idea of having a child. I couldn't bear to know they could be ripped away from me at any given moment.

I'd touched a part of a child's skeletal remains. 

Goosebumps ran across my skin. I could only paint a picture of the child smiling—enjoying her life—before it was taken away. An uncomfortable pang centered my chest. A child's skull was staring back at me. Turns out, there was more just as I imagined. John and his team searched the area as soon as I called him. I was no longer shaken up by the time they got there. But I was still dazed.

I had to force those thoughts through my head, or I wouldn't have believed it. I'd seen it with my own eyes. The size of the skull should've been the first clue that gave it away. But I was too frightened. The butterfly, the vultures, and the skull was too much. 

John pondered me with questions. What was I doing out in the middle of the woods? How did I come across the remains? I simply told him I needed fresh air and I stumbled upon the skull as I was walking. Neither of those were a lie. Neither were they the entire truth. I could've been open with John—told him I found Cory's notes on the missing little girl. I had no idea they'd lead me to a dead body. Well, the remains of one. Her body was long decayed by now. What was once a six-year-old girl, was now a pile of bones. Mary's bones. Yes, they were.

"Angie, I'm talking to you. Are you listening?"

"Huh?" I snapped out of my daze. John stared at me in concern.

"Oh, yeah! I'm sorry. . ." I muttered.

He sighed, nudging me to the side. "I said for you to go sit. I'll finish making dinner. You've been exhausting yourself all week. Stress isn't good for Rosemary, remember?" He gestured towards my stomach.

"Yes, I know. Okay." I followed John's instructions and sat at the table in the dining room. He took my place at the stove, tossing the eggs around the pan. An aroma of coffee filled the air. Bitter with a tinge of sweet, just how we like it. 

That's right. It's been a whole week since I discovered Mary's bones buried in the woods. John hadn't spoken to me about it ever since. I'd had nightmares that kept me awake. Several hours through the night, my eyes would pry themselves open, staring into the darkness around the room. Nothing would come from it but shadows and make-believe shapes. Digging into the bin to retrieve Cory's files again were real tempting.

"John, can I ask you something?"

"Sure, what is it?"

"Well"—I looked down at my hands nervously—"did you know about the missing child?"

A noise that sounded like metal clattering against iron made me jump. My head shot up to find John's eyes on me. His face remained passive, almost like a bored expression. But I could tell he was thinking. There was always a strange arch in his eyebrows whenever he thought hard about something.

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