Prologue

No one saw where the little girl came from. 

 

For many, her mysterious appearance became as confounding as how she had managed to stay alive for six years. But she came; she appeared as if a mirage, her white nightgown tussling with the dirt, the hem fading into a muddy brown, darkening with each shuffled step. Long stringy hair lolled back and forth to her slow rhythmic pace. Her right arm hung limply by her side, hand tightened into a fist, a white sliver of something peeking through her fingers. 

 

Initially, her approach was marked only by puzzled expressions as heads turned silently and arms paused mid-motion, the lawns seeming to part for this unexpected ripple in the otherwise clear waters of the town.

 

Strange that the girl’s peaceful approach could swarm a town with such turmoil. Grady was a slothful community, but when the little girl entered their midst, everyone leaped into action. Paul Michaels draped her with a blanket. Penny Stewart gave her a cup of water. Missy Smith dialed the police.

 

For years, when it came up in conversation, Mrs. Stephen Meyers pointed out with pride that she was the first to interact with the little girl. Her story changed as time passed; the confusion she initially felt evolved with each retelling into an immediate avid certainty regarding the young girl's identity. But one aspect of her first statement to police remained constant. 

 

Mrs. Meyers mused, "All she said was, 'I’d like to see my mother please.' That's it. After enduring Lord knows what, that's all she had to say? I can't get over that," she always dramatically shook her head and sighed at this moment. "The woman we all thought killed her, that’s who she wanted to see. Her locked up mother. Eerie, isn't it?" 

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