“Search Term” by People Holding

People Holding Antlers 0 Comments

My mom is calling me inside to boss me. My brother is taking this picture. It’s the one he will use. I don’t know why, because there are lots of better ones.

This is for my dad. He loves hunting deer. My brother will post this picture of me holding one of my dad’s antlers in lots of places, so if my dad happens across it, or has been following us online all this time and sees it that way, he might call. Or email—that would be good; we can read it however many times we want. My brother says there’s a way to find out where he’s sitting when he writes an email. Or a wide map. At least we’d see something that tells us how far he went. If he calls, maybe we’ll see the area code.

It’s a bigger deal to find out where he is than anything else, bigger than trying to get him to come back, even. I feel weird because I don’t think anyone at my school or camp does this. My brother taught himself how.

My dad called last Thanksgiving and hung up. Now it’s summer. It was his cell phone, though, so maybe if he calls again we will only know that he has the same number. Sometimes I call that number and I always get his voice mail message: This is your chance—convince me to call you back. I watched him record it a long time ago. He said it with a smile on his face, and there’s the smallest tone of laughter behind call you back—it sounded funny back then, but now it sounds like a mean and forced thing, like he has meant it all along.

I don’t listen to his voice anymore. I hang up between the fifth and sixth ring. That’s when he talks. This is your chance

I feel like my brother and I could have found him if we had tried sooner. But no one could make a plan and do it. We weren’t doing anything, we thought the police would do it for us. My mom figured out that they were barely doing anything when she called a detective and he told her that my dad’s a grown man. Because he’s an adult, he can go anywhere he wants. You need to wait two weeks, then call us again, we might be able to do some looking around.

Since then, my mom has been the drill sergeant. I’m trying to get to her before she gives me another hour of searching public police records online, right after dinner. I’m wearing some of the same clothes I used to when he went away. I’m keeping all my clothes from then. I don’t want to grow, or he might not recognize me in the pictures anymore.

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