I walked up to the building and glanced at the sign next to it.
’Indianapolis Social Services’
A blast of cool air hit me in the face and blew my hair behind me as I opened the door. It smelled like a clinic, everything seemed too clean and perfectly placed. I glanced at the directory on the wall next to the door and found the correct room number.
I took the stairs up to the third floor and walked halfway down the hallway before finding room 309. I knocked loudly and pressed my ear against the door, trying to hear any noises. I heard some shuffling and then a feminine, “Come in!”
I opened the door, “Macy Worths?” I asked. The lady behind the desk nodded at me with a curious stare. I closed the door and walked up to the desk that was covered in paperwork and yellow folders with papers peeking out.
“My name is Samantha Evans and I was told to come find you incase of an emergency,” I took a deep breath, looking into the woman’s eyes before reciting the set of words that Marcus had forced into my memory, “Nice Every Winter. For Amateurs Mindsets Infer Like You.”
Her eyes widened in recognition and fear, “It’s really over?” she asked after a moments hesitation.
I nodded and looked through the window behind her desk, “I was told to come to you if anything ever happened. I was never told why.”
She looked at me while grabbing the keys on her desk. She turned around so she could insert a key into the safe behind her desk. It made a clicking noise while a small thin door swung open, revealing a keypad for a code. Her head turned to see if I was looking and then she used her hand to shield my view of the keypad as the code was entered.
The thick door to the safe flung opened, showing more files. She rifled through them and then pulled out one with a small victory cry. She didn’t seem organized with anything in her life. Her wrinkled blouse had horizontal stripes that contradicted the vertical stripes on her pants. Her office had chairs in random places and most of them were covered with different colored papers.
Macy closed the safe and locked it before handing me the file, “This is yours, you’re very lucky that you have a family.”
I looked at her confused, “I have a family?”
She smiled at me with pity swarming in her eyes, “The file should explain everything. Please sit and read it. Afterwards I’ll take you wherever you need to go.”
I opened the folder.
DOB: May 6
Eye color: Brown
Hair color: Blonde
Age when missing: 4
Oakley Williams went missing at the county fair on September 4th, 2009. She was last seen wearing a pink coat and pink boots. A witness claimed that she was picked up by a short brunette woman. If any information is known please call 1-800-pls-help
“Is this true, or this another lie?” I asked, my voice shook in anger.
She blinked at me, shock written all over her face at the hostility in my voice, “This is real. I was given this file about 5 years ago. Apparently you were taken from the fair by a woman named Cecelia, who sold you 2 years later to Marcus. I really thought you knew, I’m sorry.”
I slightly remembered Cecelia. She was a brunette with a crooked nose who always smelled of cigarette smoke. She was a kind woman but I never knew why I left her. Now I know.
I stared at the small black and white picture on the first page of the file. It was me, but younger, much younger.
“I’m not going. I can’t.”
Macy looked confused, “But you’re free. This is what Marcus intended to happen.”
My head tilted to the side, “I will never be free. Just because Cali’s Kids is over doesn’t mean there aren’t others looking for me.”
“How long has it been since it shut down?”
“Four months,” I responded.
Her head nodded slowly, “Exactly, it’s been four months and I’m assuming no one has come for you in that time or you wouldn’t be here.” She held up her phone with a triumphant smile, “And if you don’t go then I will call the police and report that I found you.”
My eyes snapped to hers as I approached her behind the desk. My tall frame towered over her as my face filled with fury, “Are you threatening me?” I placed my hands on the armrests of her chair, trapping her there.
The odd woman recoiled and shook in her seat, “I-I legally h-have t-to. I-it’s protocol.”
I snatched the phone from her hand, “Screw protocol, it’s not protocol to hold files of missing kids and yet you do. I can easily tell the authorities what you’ve been up to.”
“I didn’t mean to make you mad! I just think you should take the opportunity to be a normal kid.” She whimpered.
I straightened up and walked away from her. She relaxed more and more with every step I took away from her. Once I was on the other side of her desk I studied her face. She didn’t seem to have ulterior motives and I could tell she wasn’t lying.
I’d always wanted a normal life. Every time I passed by a child with their parents I got this overwhelming sense of desolation at the thought that I would never have that. But now I could, and with my real family.
The only thing stopping me from jumping into a new life is the thought of me getting attached to someone only for them to get hurt because of me. I couldn’t let that happen.
“Just give it a chance,” Macy pleaded, “If it doesn’t work out then you can leave them. I’m sure you have the resources to do that.”
I nodded my head, “Fine.”
She gave me a shocked look and I rolled my eyes at her. People who knew the real me were always shocked to find out that I want to have a normal life, I think they assume that I like what I do.
The next pages of the file were various information that I skimmed over, not having the patience to fully read. The last page was a hand written note.
’My dear Pet,
If you’re reading this then Cali’s Kids is officially dead and I am gone with it. I hate the thought of never seeing you again but I always knew this day would come. As my first successful child I expect you to carry on the legacy you and I created together. Do what you need to do until you have a chance to rebuild what we started. You will know when that time is. Never forget what you are. Expect the best. Prepare for the worst.
With all my love,
The note shook as I held it with rage. I read it multiple times, trying to process the words before I folded the paper and slid it in my back pocket to look at later.
I pushed the note to the back of my mind and cleared my face of all emotions, “What do we do now? Where do we start?”
“We need to go to the police. Were you told a cover story for if you were ever turned in?”
“I was taken by an older couple, they both passed away and I was left to fend for myself.”
She nodded at me, “That should work. Just tell the police you were tired of taking care of yourself so you decided to turn yourself in to social services. Tell them that the couples name was Mark and Robin. Say they never let you leave the house,” She paused before continuing, “Tell them that Mark and Robin had weird rules, like no questions, but were nice otherwise. I’m sure you don’t need to hear this but I’m going to tell you anyway; tell no one the truth. Stick to your story, never waver. I need you to lie like your life depends on it.”
I nodded, “I’m aware.” Lying was second nature to me at this point.
She raised her thin eyebrows at me, “Are you sure you don’t want to know more about your family before we go? You’re going to be living with them until you’re at least 18.”
“It will sound more genuine if I don’t know anything and I won’t have to refrain from talking about something I shouldn’t know about.”
She smiled at me, “Do you have your bags?”
“I don’t have any.” I said while folding my arms, the file still in my hand.
She grabbed the file from me and took out a thick stack of papers.
“What are those for?”
She glanced at the papers and then back to me, “These are your medical records, fake of course. Whenever a kidnapped child is found it’s protocol to take them to the hospital to have a full body check-up. These papers will say that I already took you and that you’re fine to go home. I just need to fill out the date on some of these and then I need to get your hospital bracelet filled out.”
I rolled my eyes, “Marcus was nothing if not thorough.”
“And scary,” Macy added.
I scanned through some of the other papers while she finalized the fake documents. Apparently my birth family never stopped looking for me. I couldn’t help but think if they would want me back after meeting the new me. I definitely wasn’t four anymore and I was far from innocent.
She picked up the keys on her desk again and grabbed a bright red purse from the floor, placing the papers inside. “Follow me,” She ordered, motioning with her hand.
I followed her out of the office and she locked the door behind me. She led me through the building and outside to a parking lot where she walked up to a beat up green car. She unlocked it manually and then pressed a button inside the car, making the passenger door that I was standing next to car click and unlock. A strong wave of menthol and fast food hit my nose when I opened the door, making my eyes water.
We got in and she started the car before driving away from the building and onto a main road.
“Why did you help him?” I asked out of the blue.
“Marcus. Why did you help him? Did he have something over you?”
She glanced at me out of the corner of her eye before focusing on the road again. “A little over six years ago my daughter was diagnosed with cancer. I’m a single mom and being a social worker doesn’t exactly pay much. Her cancer treatments were expensive and I fell into debt. It got to the point where I almost lost my house and insurance. Marcus called me and made me an offer, if I helped him then he would give me a large sum of money. I was desperate and agreed before I knew what he wanted me to do.” She paused, running a hand through her hair. “When I found out I wanted to take it back, but it was too late and I was too desperate for his help. I took the money and was given your file along with some other children’s as well.”
“Who were the other children?” I never knew this side of Marcus’ business.
“I never met them, but every once in a while I would get a call from Marcus telling me to burn a file. I assumed the child was deceased.” She explained.
Her last statement made me let out a hum of confirmation.
“You were actually my last file left from him,” She admitted.
I ignored the last comment, “What happened to your daughter?”
Her face turned grim, “She got the treatments and then went into remission two years later. Two years after that it came back but it was stage four and there was nothing we could do. She passed away last year.”
“I’m sorry for your loss,” I said, shifting uncomfortably in my seat. I was okay with adults dying and being killed but when it was a child it made my heart constrict in pain.
The rest of the car ride was silent, jazz music softly being played through the old car speakers.
When we pulled into the police station the parking lot was empty except for a few police cars scattered about. I opened the car door and stepped out enjoying the fresh air that didn’t smell like Macy’s old car. I walked right behind Macy and before she opened the door she turned to look at me, “Let me do all the talking for now.”
She didn’t wait for an answer and pulled open the doors, forcing a wave of cool air to wash over us, sending an involuntary shiver down my spine. We walked up to the front desk and Macy waved one of the officers over. The officer was middle aged and was sporting salt and pepper hair and a small gut.
“What can I do for you?” He asked with a smile.
Macy’s face remained expressionless, “I have a missing person with me. Oakley Williams. She showed up at my office.”
The officers eyes widened and he shouted out, “Somebody call Sheriff Lewis!” His eyes flickered to me and then back to Macy, “Is this her?”
Macy nodded her head, “Maybe we could go somewhere a little more private?” She inquired.
I looked over the large building and noticed that other officers were sending us curious looks occasionally, probably wondering why the sheriff needed to be here.
The officer motioned for us to follow him. Macy and I walked alongside the Officer who was still on the other side of the long desk that was covering almost the entire length of the building. We were led in between the gap of the long counter and the wall, continuing down a small hallway before stepping into a room with a table and chairs. The table had a landline phone and a box of tissues in the middle. It looked like a conference room.
“I’ll send in the sheriff when he gets here, it shouldn’t be too long.” He closed the door behind him, leaving Macy and I alone in the room surrounded by silence.
I cut her off by throwing my arms around her neck so it looked like we were hugging, “Don’t say anything, there are cameras in here.”
I pulled away and watched as she glanced at all the cameras in the room. I rolled my eyes at her lack of slyness.
“Are you nervous?” She asked after her not so subtle scan of the room.
I shrugged, “I’m not sure.” It was a lie. I had never been so nervous, there was a war going on inside me. My mind was screaming at me to leave and never look back, but that girl inside of me that always wanted a family told me to stay.
We sat in silence for about fifteen minutes according to the clock on the wall before we heard a knock at the door. The door opened and an older man in slacks, a dress shirt and a blue tie walked in, closing the door after him. He had a stack of papers with him.
“I’m Sheriff Lewis, it’s nice to meet you.” He shook Macy’s hand before sitting in a seat next to me.
“I’m sure this must be very strange for you, but I’ll try my best to help you understand what’s going on. However, first I need to ask you a few questions.” His eyebrows furrowed when he saw the impassive expression on my face. “Can you tell me what happened?”
I sat up and looked at him. “My dad died about a year ago and my mom died about four months ago. I’ve been trying to live on my own but realized I needed help,” I lied. “I walked to the first child and family services building near me and found Macy.”
“What were your parents names?” He questioned.
“Mark and Robin. They were really old and had a bunch of health problems.”
Macy cut him off, “I have already asked her these questions at my office.” She pulled out some papers from her large red purse and slid them to the Sheriff.
He pursed his lips as he read them over and then nodded his head in approval. “I’ll still need to ask some more questions just for clarity and details, but right now we should get you to the hospital to be checked over,” His eyes glanced over me. “You seem to look fine but I’m afraid it’s protocol.”
Macy grabbed more papers out of her purse and slid them over to him, “I already took her. I knew it was protocol and I figured she would be more comfortable with a female escort.”
“You didn’t have to do that Ms…?”
“Macy Worths” she answered.
“Ms. Worths. Thank you for your help, but how come the hospital didn’t contact us?”
“Well...” She started.
“I asked them not to,” I interrupted, noticing Macys lack of answer. “I don’t like hospitals and I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. I knew that if they called the police that I would be stuck there for hours.”
His eyes showed pity and I looked away, “I understand.”
Sheriff Lewis studied my face, but I kept my face blank. He clasped his hands together, resting them on the table. “What has Macy told you?”
“She told me that my parents aren’t actually my parents and at the hospital I heard them say that I was a missing person. My name is Oakley, right?”
“What you heard is true. Your name is Oakley Williams and you went missing at the age of four, no one has seen you since. Do you remember being with anyone other than Robin and Mark?”
“No, should I?”
“It’s not surprising since you were so young. I’m going to ask you some more questions. Some of them may be the same that Ms. Worths asked but I need you to be as specific as possible. Some of these questions are not going to be easy.”
I nodded my head.
“The medical reports show signs of abuse, did Mark and Linda ever hurt you?”
I figured this question would be asked. I was covered in little scars and it would be hard to explain unless I said it was abuse. I knew Marcus would have put that in the reports to settle any suspicion.
“Um, sometimes. Usually it was when they were drunk or I disobeyed them.”
“Did they ever…” he hesitated. “touch you?”
I shook my head and he looked relieved at my answer.
“What did they tell you your name was?”
He nodded his head, “Do you know their last name?”
“I asked and they didn’t tell me.”
The questions continued. I answered them as truthfully as I could while keeping up my cover story. The less lies I told the less I had to remember. When I couldn’t answer a question I would just stare at him until he moved onto the next one. Every once in a while, he would take a few minutes to write things down on a piece of paper before continuing. Macy stayed quiet the whole, time just listening to my answers.
The sheriff finished asking me questions a few hours later, “I think that’s all the questions I have for now. Thank you for being patient and honest, Oakley. Would you like some water?”
I nodded my head and he looked to Macy who also nodded her head.
He left the room with the stack of papers he brought in and all the ones that Macy had given him. He came back after a while with two plastic cups filled with water. I chugged mine down quickly, realizing how thirsty I was.
“Thank you,” I muttered setting my now empty cup onto the table in front of me.
He didn’t sit down as he talked to me, “Your parents,” His eyes widened, “I mean your biological parents are waiting outside. They’ve been here for an hour. Would you like to meet them?”
I shrugged, knowing I would have to meet them eventually.
“Don’t worry, they’re just as nervous as you are.” He gave me a gentle smile. “They’ve already been filled in on the important details. They know that you’re healthy and a little scared. I told them about some of what you told me about Robin and Mark so that they were aware.”
I glanced at him, slightly annoyed that he had told people that I was abused. I think I would have been annoyed even if it wasn’t a lie, that was personal information and I didn’t want people walking on eggshells around me or treating me like I’m broken. I despised pity.
He smiled sheepishly, “Sorry, but they needed to know what to expect and how to properly handle yo-this situation.”
I rolled my eyes at his slip up; I didn’t need to be handled and I would not be treated like a child.
On the contrary, however, all I wanted to do at that moment was run and hide just like a child would do. A life changing moment was about to occur but I couldn’t tell whether it was for better, or worse.