As we are still running around the yard and playing ball with Caramel and Brownie, mom comes out into the backyard. The blonde-haired woman that I see Alani with comes out behind mom. “What is she doing here”, I wonder. As if mom read my mind, “Girls, this is Ayla, Alani’s mom.” Jessie and I don’t say anything. We just stand there looking at the woman. So, that’s who she is, Alani’s mom. I wonder why I didn’t think of that before. As I stare at the woman, I realize that her and Alani look nothing alike.
After a moment of silence, I manage to ask, “Is Alani okay?” Mom looks at the blonde-haired woman – Ayla – and she begins to speak. “Alani appears to be missing”, Jessie and I both gasp in astonishment. “She was staying with her aunt next door, and Mrs. Shiner woke up to find her gone”.
Wow! How do you lose the biggest girl in the 6th grade? I can’t believe that Alani would just up and leave without telling anyone. “You girls wouldn’t happen to have seen her, would you”, mom says. “No, ma’am. We haven’t seen her in two days. She wasn’t at school today”, I tell mom. “You know, this is so like her to get everyone all excited and worried over her”, Ayla says, shaking her head in frustration.
“It’s okay, we are going to find her”, mom reassures Ayla and they head back into the house. As soon as the door closes Jessie and I look at each other. “Can you believe that?”, Jessie says to me. “Actually, I can. I told you something weird was going on with Alani” We both stop talking, lost in our own thoughts. “Where do you think she could be, Katie?” I pause for a moment. “I don’t know but we have to find out”, I say. I am thinking of how we are going to pull this off. My parents will not be okay with me going around looking for Alani. “Isn’t that the police officers job?”, Jessie asks. “Of course, it is but we are going to help speed up the process. We’re both kids, all we have to do is think where a kid like Alani would go”, I say. “I don’t think it’s quite that easy”, Jessie says. “If it were, wouldn’t the police officers do that”, she continues. “Will you get off the police officer thing for just a minute and listen to me”, I say with frustration. “Adults can’t think like kids. That’s why Alani needs us to come finds her”, I say. “Okay, if you say so but what if she was kidnapped? The ones that took her might take us too”, Jessie says with a scared look on her face.
You know, I hadn’t thought about it that way. I would hate to get involved with scary kidnappers. “Get it together Katie”, I tell myself. “Alani needs us”, I say out loud. “She doesn’t need me”, Jessie says. “If it were you, you would want your friends to come looks for you, right”, I say. I try to reason with Jessie. “Yes, my friends, which would not include Alani”, she explains.
I give her the saddest puppy dog face that I can muster up. “Come on, Jessie. If you help me find her, I’ll buy you ice cream”, I beg. “Okay, okay but make it strawberry swirl”, she says pointing her finger at me. “It’s a deal”, I say with a giggle. Jessie is such an ice cream lover. I knew I would get her with that one.