Assignment: This week's prompt is...someone has stolen something from you (or your character). Something of tremendous value. What will you do to get it back? Or will you give up?
***Just a quick head's up...I went a few words over the 600 limit...35 to be exact. Sorry!***
Result: It was a muggy day on the cusp of summer, the kind of day when the air is so thick even the gnats are too tired to try and swim through it, and Keri was nine years old. Well, almost nine years old. She was within six months of her birthday anyway, so she could round up without anyone saying too much about it. And nine sounded so much older and more sophisticated than eight. Babies were eight. Grown up girls who got their ears pierced and wore lipgloss were nine.
She had been outside all day repotting the pansies her mom had brought home that morning. There were white, pink, yellow and purple ones. They were so pretty and since she was nine, Keri's mom had let her do all of the work herself. She was taking a break and examining the crescent moons of potting soil under her fingernails when her dad came banging out of the porch door.
"Come on kiddo," he said in cheerfully, "we're going camping by the lake. Just you and me. Hurry and go throw some shorts and a couple of suits in a bag and lets hit the road."
Keri was thrilled, she loved her dad with all her might, and spending time just the two of them was a special treat. The trip had been magical, made all the more special because it was the last time she would spend with him. They had gone swimming and fishing, hiking and exploring. If she concentrated hard enough Keri could still feel the warmth of the campfire and smell the day's sunlight on her skin. And she did, frequently.
The memory of that trip was her happy place. When things were just not going her way she would take a deep breath and focus on the taste of the s'mores they had made...smoky, sweet and a little nutty from the peanut butter her dad liked to add...or the feel of the cool water rushing past her ankles. It never failed to make her feel better.
And now, thanks to some careless words, it was gone. Keri's favorite childhood memory, stolen from her grasp in an instant. And the thief, someone who should have known better, had so little concern for his crime it was as if he had simply taken the last slice of pizza at a party.
"Do you smell that bonfire," Keri asked her older brother as they sat drinking a beer on their mother's porch. "That smell always makes me think of dad and the trip we took just before he left."
"He didn't leave," Bill said, "he went to jail. I think he's still in there...last I heard anyway."
"I'm sorry. Did you just say our father is in jail? Currently? As in locked up where he could be found and no one bothered to tell me?"
Keri could feel the hysteria rising in her voice. She had spent her entire life believing that immediately after returning from their trip, her dad had left and no one knew where he was.
Bill looked a little confused, "You seriously didn't know that dad was in jail?"
"Kidnapping you. He and mom got into some big fight and he took off with you to get back at her. How do you not know this?"
And suddenly it came rushing back. The screaming inside the house while she had been busy planting, the quick exit, the secrecy around their destination that Keri had taken as part of the surprise. Her father hadn't known where they were going. Her father had taken her out of spite. The single most treasured memory in her life had just evaporated like the water off her chubby, skinned knees as she lay next to the lake watching her father fish.