Jenny loved the park. She loved the swings and slides, but most of all she loved the old tree stump in the middle of the hollow. She would sit there and read while listening to the other children play.
“Jenny,” her mother called out, “it’s time to go.”
Her mother waited for her little girl to come bounding out of the hollow with her usual ear to ear grin.
“Jenny? Jenny? Jenny! JENNY!”
All the police ever found was Jenny’s book and a small, light-brown teddy bear sitting on the tree stump.
Months passed and families returned to the park as if nothing had happened.
Leslie loved the park. She loved the sand box and the merry-go-round, but she missed her old park. Her family just moved to Brookton the previous week. It was hard making friends when you are new, but it was especially hard for Leslie. She looked different than all the other children. She didn’t ask to be an albino, but she was and her family loved her anyway.
“Can I go play over there?” Leslie pointed to a small group of trees by the park.
“Okay, but don’t go too far.”
“I won’t, Mommy.”
Leslie’s laughter filled the air and her mother smiled. It had been a while since she heard her daughter laugh like that.
After a while it was time to leave. Her mother stood up and called for her.
“Leslie, time to go, honey. Leslie? Leslie! LESLIE!”
Police searched the park and the hollow for Leslie but all they found was an open storybook and two small teddy bears. One light-brown, and one pure white.
Once again, families left, but returned after a while. Families and parks just seem to call to each other.
It wasn’t just families that were called, though, Jasmine heard the call as well. Her mother abandoned the family when she was little. Not that seven is grown-up, but she was expected to be grown-up. Her father worked. A lot. When he wasn’t working, he drank. A lot. He hated Jasmine, and she hated him.
One day, while running away from home again, Jasmine stopped at the park to play. She didn’t know any of the kids there and they eyed her with suspicion, but the parents were the ones who scared her. They watched her every move and whispered behind their hands.
Giggling came from the small patch of trees. Jasmine saw two little girls playing with each other under the branches. When they noticed she was looking, they waved for her to join them.
Jasmine looked around. Surely they must have been calling to someone else. No one else seemed to notice the girls though. Jasmine smiled and walked into the hollow. A woman who had been at the park with her son phoned police. It was strange that a little girl would walk to the park with no shoes, and only wearing a stained, over-sized t-shirt.
When the police searched the hollow all they found were three teddy bears sitting on the tree stump reading a book. No one ever reported Jasmine as a missing child.