GENRE: YA contemporary
My stomach clenches as Dad cranks up the volume on the TV. The news reporter's talking about the seventeen year old who went missing last month. Still no leads.
A memory assaults me. Being dragged along the damp forest ground. Fallen branches digging their spikes into my bare legs. The darkness suffocating me.
All I want to do is escape to my room and pretend I have no clue what might have happened to her. Instead, I push the remainder of my tofu casserole around a plate I'd rather smash against the wall.
"I can't believe they haven't found her yet," Dad says from across the table. "There's another reason why we don't live in a big city."
With a sigh, Mom shakes her head. "I can only imagine what her parents must be going through. At least you know better than to go off with a stranger," she says to me. "Right?"
"Right." The lie slips out before I can stop it. But what can I do? Admit what really happened to me last August? It's so obvious Mom blames the missing girl for not being smart enough to know better. After all the lectures Mom's given me, I couldn't be that girl--not in front of her. It would break her heart and destroy her trust in me.
Mom cuts her broccoli into pieces. "Do you remember my friend Amy Platter?"
A hopeful smile breaks on her face. Something about it makes me squirm.