A homeschooled boy suddenly disappears, and the only clue is a short story he recently printed off his computer. His parents woke up that day without having the slightest idea that their lives are about to take a sudden turn.
The sun washed the wooden floor as it slowly creeped through the open windows of the small suburban house. It was clearly midday. It was a busy Friday as everyone in the neighborhood were buzzling around, getting ready for the long weekend. All the children were still at school, but the parents always loved to arrange a good surprise for their kids. The houses slightly creaked as a strong warm breeze swept past them, tittering the streets with dried leaves. Mr. Walsh was ready to step out into the porch with a very hot cup of tea in his hands, when his wife suddenly called for him from the kitchenette.
“Dear, will you please check whether Milo’s awake?” Mrs. Walsh asked as she scraped a chair to the pantry and stood on it. She started rummaging through the top cupboards, clearly searching for something.
“He’s not awake yet?” Mr. Walsh asked in surprise. Their son, Milo Walsh, is a homeschooled boy who is turning seventeen very soon. He was given permission by his parents to finally apply to the final year of high school, so that he can have the opportunity to socialize and make some friends, other than his mother and father, and their fat dog, Chunk.
“No, he’s not.” Mrs. Walsh answered. “He’s supposed to get his breakfast and be ready for his math lesson with me.”
“Let me go upstairs and check on him.” Mr. Walsh said. He carefully set his tea cup on the counter top, and made his way up the rich wooden staircase. “Milo!” He called as he went, and approached a pale blue door at the very end of the hallway. He rapped on the door thrice, but there was no answer.
“Milo?” Mr. Walsh spoke to the door, his lips inches away from the poster that read; ‘Milo’s room’. He set his ear on the wood and carefully listened, but he could only hear a low rumble. He called again, but no one answered back. He turned the doorknob and entered.
The first thing he noticed was the fan, which was lazily running in circles, making round shaped shadows on the bedding. The bed was empty, and the blankets were all pulled down to the ground. The floor was littered with scrunched up paper bits, and the laptop was running, playing a slow hum of music. Mr. Walsh quickly walked over to the window, and looked out, his heart racing. The window was pulled open, and the thin curtains danced mysteriously to the wind.
It didn’t take long for Mr. Walsh to alert his wife, who at first thought it was some joke. But as she came to the understanding that their son was missing, they had no choice but to call the police. Mrs. Walsh was in uncertainty as to what has happened, but Mr. Walsh was strong enough to accept it for the both of them.
The police questioned them repeatedly, but the parents of Milo Walsh had no idea as to why this has happened. Finally, one officer was able to pull out one clue from Milo’s room which they searched thoroughly. He handed it to the parents. Mrs. Walsh took it into her shaking hands, but couldn’t bring herself to look at what it was. Her tears drenched the papers, and she immediately handed it over to her husband. He cleared his throat and started reading what was written, aloud.
“’ Jeremy’s life was hanging by a thread as it slowly started to revolve around his guardian angels. He could see their faces; pale white and kind. He offered his hands to them, which they took. Their cold touch was enough to make Jeremy see what he was missing in his life, but he was not yet ready. He slowly retracted from the angels, whose faces started to slowly turn into what appeared to be red and ugly. It was twisted. Jeremy got scared and started to run, but his thread of life was caught in some branches. Maple branches. He couldn’t move, so he sat, waiting for the devils to come to him. But they never did. Instead, angels came to him again, offering him another chance. He then and there decided to take it. He stood up and walked away into the sunset, hand in hand with the pale winged angels.’”
Everyone was in shock after reading this specific story Milo has written, but more so confused. The officers started to analyze this piece of information Milo has left, looking for clues, when Mr. Walsh racked his brain trying to think what his son has said to him through these words. Suddenly, a light bulb shone over Mr. Walsh as he clapped his hands. He immediately walked over to the officers and said that he somewhat found the meaning behind these words his son has left for them as a clue.
“When Milo turned sixteen, we promised that he could start going to high school. We thought that it is time, and that it is time for him to make some friends of his own. For his sixteenth birthday, we went to a town nearby where they had this amazing statue of a young boy, who’s been lifted off his feet by two amazingly carved angels. It was a memorial for a local boy who died of a heart attack after hearing about his parents’ death by a car accident.” Mr. Walsh rambled on.
“What are you trying to say, Mr. Walsh?” The officer in charge asked, as Mr. Walsh gasped for breath to continue.
“This statue faces a big maple tree. One of the biggest we’ve ever seen. I’m sure he’s talking about that.” He said.
“So, you are saying that your son is currently there? That he could be in this location?” Asked the officer, to which Mr. Walsh nodded. “But why? Why specifically this place?”
“I’ll tell you once we’ve found our son. I’m sure he’s there!” Mr. Walsh said, twisting his fingers nervously.
The officer in- charge shrugged, and turned to face his fellow police officers. “This man knows his son better than we do, so let’s go. If he’s not there, we’ll continue to search for him.”
Then the party left. Mr. Walsh directed them through the lanes and the towns, and after about fifteen minutes they arrived at the location. Mrs. Walsh was still tear faced, but she strongly trusted her husband. They quickly moved through the crowd who has come to see the memorial, and went nearer to the statue.
At the foot of the statue, where people gathered less as they left flowers and such at the parlor which was built in the name of the young boy, sat a shivering figure who kept staring at people who passed by with a very frightened look on his face. It was clearly Milo Walsh. Mr. and Mrs. Walsh ran up to their son and wrapped him in their arms. Milo looked surprised to see them, but extremely happy, as he too hugged them.
Officer in- charge smiled approvingly at Mr. Walsh, who walked his son over to him. “So why did this young man decided to take this sudden trip?” He asked.
Milo gave him a nervous look, but it was Mr. Walsh who answered. “My son has social anxiety, sir. He was scared of making friends so he came to the place where he felt as a good place to pass his message onto his parents. He is still not quite ready to face high school, so he ran away. But he still wanted us to find him because people scared him. That’s why he left us that clue, sir.”
Officer in- charge was awestruck after hearing this, but he smiled reassuringly at Milo, and said, “Go home, now, Milo. If you ever get scared this way, just talk to your parents. You’ll be just fine.”
Penned by: Rtr. Esandi Udana (Editorial Member 2021-22)
Edited, translated and published by: RACSLIIT Editorial Team 2021-22