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THE PHOTO TRAVELER

By Arthur Gonzalez All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Scifi

CHAPTER 42

CHAPTER FORTY-TWO

In the nights that follow, sleep is impossible for me. I keep seeing Yogi screaming and begging me for her life before her body is swallowed up by a wave of fire and a hardened shell of magma encapsulates her. But her cries only get louder—until the shell explodes into a million pieces.

Even then it doesn’t end. She’s screaming, swearing that she really was my friend, that all she ever wanted was to reunite with her father. That’s the moment I wake up to every night, sometimes several times a night. And every single time, the question nags at me: Wasn’t that all I ever wanted? Just to know my mom and dad? Just to meet them and to get a second shot at a relationship?

I lie awake almost afraid to fall asleep again, while my mind keeps jumping to other questions. Why did she pretend to be my friend and lure me in by sharing her own tragic story with me? Was she so consumed with guilt for having caused her father’s disappearance? She did say she wouldn’t let anything get in her way of finding him, but Jesus—really?! And what had she tried to tell me in the moments before I left her behind to die?

I know I’m not going to be able to get back to sleep, so I jump online and enter “Virge,Yogi”. Not a single hit. I try “Virge Hoytt New York” and a couple of pages of links load.

I click on 411any1.com and find an address in New York City with three names listed together: Virginia Hoytt, Samantha Hoytt, and Marcus Hoytt. They have to be her mom and dad.

There’s another link next to Marcus’s name, and when I click on it, I land on a page with his mug shot. His face gives me chills. This man tried murdering my parents. There’s not much of a family resemblance to Yogi. His face is free of any emotion whatsoever. No fear, no happiness, no life. Nothing. Just a blank stare. Totally opposite from Yogi’s quirky cheerfulness. As I study his face more closely, I see that his hooded eyes and the deep furrows in his brow give him a forbidding expression. If he and Yogi were standing side by side, it would never occur to me that he could be her father.

When I finally go back to bed, I’m so exhausted that I hum Leyla’s lullaby aloud hoping it’ll help me fall asleep. I close my eyes and start dozing off almost feeling her arms holding me again, but then I bob back into wakefulness.

What did Yogi want to tell me?

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