The sea is a deep green color, constantly crashing against the stone posts of the dock beneath my feet. My son stands beside me, staring into the depths of the waves, his dark curls tousled in the wind. The air smells of nothing but salt and sea foam, and a light mist sprays into our faces as the wind picks up momentarily. My forearms rest on the railing of the pier as the humming waves fade into white noise. Jake peeks eagerly over the steel restraint.
"Well, this is it, buddy," I say. Endless days of driving, sneaking around, and avoiding the law enforcement like the plague have brought us here, to the unbearably warm Los Angeles. "Can't go any farther west than this."
Jake, as always, is silent. His face is curiously pensive, as if he's being drawn into the gentle motions of the water. "Still not exactly sure what we're doing here," I prompt. I wait for some kind of sign from him, any indication of what to do next.
A sudden gust of wind brushes by. There's a rustle of paper, and I look down to see Jake offering me a hand drawn weather map, possibly charting the air and ocean currents. "What's this?" I mutter. I look around, and spot a blond haired woman on the other side of the pier. "Excuse me- is this yours?"
She turns around, a grin spreading across her face- a hauntingly familiar face. I can't place it, but it seems like I've seen her before. "Oh, yes," she says. "Thank you so much."
"Weather map?" I ask. Her smile grows.
"My son's into numbers." I don't know exactly why I tell her this.
The woman with the weather map smiles at Jake. "Hi." There it is- the familiar questioning look in my direction- why doesn't he speak? She doesn't wait for an answer. She sighs.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" I nod in agreement. "I've never been to this part of the country before."
"Yeah. What brought you out here?" I question, stuffing my hands in my pockets.
"Um… I'm… looking for my daughter." There's a deep, tangible sadness in her eyes that isn't masked by the grim smile she attempts. I wonder…
"What's your daughter's name?" I ask. Maybe, just maybe… she does look familiar, after all… I don't know why I'm being so forward with her.
She looks at Jake, then right at me. The woman smiles grimly again. "Amelia."
I nod. That's all I need. "Amelia," I repeat.
Once again, I am amazed by my son's insight and instinct. I'm almost certain that this woman is Lucy Robbins, the mother of Amelia, the girl that went missing. I nod to myself once more.
Suddenly, little fingers wrap themselves around two of mine. I look over at Jake, startled, and then down at our twined hands. My son seems to be screaming a thousand words at me with that one action. We've found her, Dad. He pushes his hand into mine, allowing me to wrap my fingers around it. I don't squeeze his hand. I simply hold it, just waiting for and dreading the moment when he will let go. I exhale a breath of relief.
I know, sweetheart, I think in my head. I know.