It doesn’t take a medium, a psychic, a private investigator, or the police to tell us she’s not coming back. When someone’s gone this long—going on three years—she does not suddenly show up at a cousin’s baby shower, her parents’ anniversary, or her son’s birthday. No matter how much people pray, point fingers, analyze the lack of evidence, or wish upon bright stars—like tonight, a cold but peaceful night in Northern Michigan—she’ll not return. Not in the form we’re used to.
When she’s home again, it will be because there’s been a confession. A conviction. The great reward for patience, determination, and truth. Men grow tired. Cowards have always been weak. And evil—plain and simple—never wins.
On the other side, when it comes to a good soul like hers, there isn’t the pressure of time, the worry of missing out. There are no regrets. And so, she watches them silently. Waiting and waiting and waiting for them to feel her breath in their ears. Her hand on the back of their necks. And hear her footsteps as she paces their bedrooms at night. Each of them one day closer to asking God, her parents, and her children for forgiveness.
They’re feeling it.
The three that made the pact—the so-called ring-leader, the defeated veteran, and the punk that ran away—believe they’re part of a brotherhood. That their bond of fear and selfishness and sin is actually something great and untouchable that will endure. But it will not. She tells me this sometimes. That sooner or later a missing piece will wash up, be found in ash and dirt, or show up shiny and new between floorboards. It will be a splinter of finger bone. A ring. A note. A tooth. It will be nothing and anything and everything all at once and be just enough to cause a break in the silent case of the girl that disappeared one night in June.