Marcus dreaded the hope he held onto for so long. Marietta was four when she was taken. Now, he doubted that he would recognize his own daughter.
An old friend of Charlise finally admitted that Charlise sent her a postcard a year ago. Marcus immediately went looking, driving nonstop to find Marietta from the information he gathered from the postcard. He barely considered that he had stolen his employer’s car to do so. To Marcus, it was much worse that his wife stole his daughter after losing custody of her, as if it wasn’t her idea to live with a convicted child molester.
Marcus arrived in this Godforsaken town three hours ago. He could not get himself to end his futile search and find a place to park the stolen taxi cab for the night.
His itchy, red and heavy eyes threatened to stay shut every time he blinked. Finally he noticed an open Mexican restaurant. He would park and pray that Charlise worked there. Whenever she did work, it was always as a waitress. Marcus sent his petition to God to find them.
Before turning into the parking lot, he heard a meek yet shrill voice cry out, “Taxi!”
Marcus whipped his head around and saw a girl of about thirteen in front of a closed library, hailing him.
His heart skipped a beat, but Marietta was only eleven, and this girl had short natural hair. Charlise would die before letting Marietta go with natural hair. Marcus had to see what this young girl needed, and hurriedly made a U-turn.
She opened the rear door, jumped in, and said, “See that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out. I want you to follow him.”
Turning around to look at the girl, Marcus saw the layers of make-up and knew why he thought she looked older. His shock prevented tears from falling or his mouth from working. His vision blurred, but finally he was able to shout, “Marietta!” She looked the same after all, only her eleven year old body was camouflaged with makeup and clothing too old for her.
Marietta stared at him, fear spreading across her face. Then recognition formed along with tears in her eyes.
“Daddy?” She said it so softly, then louder, “Daddy!”
They hugged and kissed each other, crying and talking at the same time.
“They told me you didn’t want me anymore.”
“I’ve been looking for you forever.”
“I knew they were lying.”
“Are you okay?”
“They told me that you died so I wouldn’t ask to go home anymore.”
“I was never going to stop looking for you.”
After a few moments of silence, Marietta said, “Daddy, that guy who’s coming out the restaurant said he’s taking me to a secret place tomorrow where he would get paid taking pictures of me. I wanted to follow him and see where that secret place is so I could stay away.”
Horrified, Marcus shouted, “Buckle up!”
They drove away, and on the way home, shared every difficulty they had since the last time they saw each other. Two days later, after arriving home, Marcus went to the District Attorney’s Office to file a report against his Charlise.
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