Now Margot Tesler huffs into the room and sits down across from Cara to explain what happened: Phil, Adams regular aide, was out sick today, and Teresa, Adams usual sub, already had an assignment, so he had someone new today, a Mrs. Warshowski, who misunderstood what she was told and believed recess was her break time.
Cara stares at her. Until this moment she hasnt been terribly worried. She assumed hed be found in one of his strange places, behind a vending machine, under the piano in the music room, that soon there would be some forced laughter and general embarrassment about the commotion this caused. Now shes less sure. He went out to recess alone?
The playground supervisors were told. They were perfectly aware.
But he was outside when he disappeared?
Margot meets her gaze and nods. Yes.
Cara stands up. She hasnt considered the idea that he might have been outside, might have really disappeared. She needs to get out there and start looking in all the spots Adam is most likely to have gone.
He must have heard somethinga lawn mower maybe. Or some music. Did you check the maintenance room? Sometimes they leave their radio on.
We checked. Hes not there.
Cara gathers her things. How about the music room? Is the band practicing?
We looked. Theyre not.
Adam can hear things other people cant. If one kid is playing violin somewhere in the building, hell probably hear it and try to get closer.
Margot comes around the desk. Weve got people looking inside and outside.
Let me go find him, Margot. Im sorry this has caused such a disruption, but Ill find him. He cant have gone far. In the old days, when Adam was younger and more driven by his compulsions to investigate machines, heating vents, water faucets not completely turned off, Cara lost him more often than she liked to admit. She knew the panic, the speed with which he could disappear, but she also knew, intuitively, how to find him: Stop. Listen hard for his humming, his tiny throaty bird noises, or for what he must have heardmusic maybe, or the low compelling purr of a machine come to life.
They may ask for that in a minute or two, but for right now, you need to stay here.
They? Who is they?
The police? How long has he been gone?
A little over an hour. Theres a girl missing, too. The police say they think thats a good sign, that it diminishes the possibility of stranger abduction. Its virtually unheard of for someone to take two children at once.
Cara tries to swallow but finds it hard, her mouth filling up with something she cant bear the taste of. She nods but doesnt sit down. What happened, Margot? Why wasnt anyone watching him?
There was actually more supervision than usual. Six adults were outside when it happened. There was no stranger on the playground, no unknown cars in the parking lot, no unusual interactions that anyone saw. Were talking to the three classrooms of kids who were outside at the time, trying to find out if any kids talked to them, dared them to hide maybe, as a practical joke, or to walk over to the woods.
The woods, she thinks. Beyond the soccer fields on the far side of the playground, there is a lovely wood glade of pine trees that gives the school its name, Woodside Elementary. Let me go outside, Margot.
Not yet. Theyre doing a systematic search, and for now they ask that you stay here.
Excerpt from EYE CONTACT by Cammie McGovern. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from EYE CONTACT Copyright (c) Cammie McGovern, 2006
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Southern Gothic fantasy with a contemporary flare set in Savannah
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