Night Lights in the Forest – 7

The next morning, in Emmy’s home.
“Emmy! Gigi! Come down for breakfast!” A petite woman, her long brown hair tied loosely up in a bun, dried her hands on the apron she wore over her slightly faded blue gingham house dress. She walked back to the stove from the stairwell, and flipped the pancakes. She checked the sausage patties, they didn’t need turning.
The kitchen flooded with morning sunlight through the window framed with yellow floral curtains and onto the daisy pattern wall paper. A wooden table with four chairs sat comfortably in center of the room.
The coffee pot finished its gurgling and beeped. Pulling two thick, white ceramic mugs from the cupboard, she poured the steaming brew into them.
“Regan, coffee’s poured!” she said in the direction of the hallway that stretched toward the front of the house. “Coming Pat,” a baritone voice returned from the master bedroom situated off the hallway.
A slightly stout, shortish man with a grin on his face walked into the kitchen wearing well worn blue jeans held up with red suspenders, rolling up the sleeves on his denim work shirt.
“I had to wash up after doing the milking. Put some Bag Balm on a couple of the ladies and didn’t want my breakfast ruined by the smell.”
He reached around his wife’s waist, kissed the back of her neck, whispered, “I love you” into her ear.
Pat got a slight tingle up her spine and shook her shoulders slightly and giggled.
“Regan Davies, you know what that does to me.”
“Yup, that’s why I do it,” he said with a big silly grin.
Regan stepped over to the head of table, sat down and proceeded to take a big gulp of coffee.
“Did you call the girls?”
“Yes, twice. Gigi’s usually down wanting to help in the kitchen by now. Why don’t you call them? Emmy may have stayed up looking at those firefly lights out on the meadow again last night.”
“She better not have, I told her to stop paying attention to them. I have a feeling that they aren’t just fireflies. I don’t even want to think about what they might be.”
“Shush yourself now, we don’t want the girls hearing you talk like that. Why don’t you call them down, the pancakes and sausage are ready.”
Regan went to the bottom of the stairwell that led to the girls’ room upstairs, “Emmy! Gigi! Come on down now, your Momma’s got breakfast on the table.”
He listened for their usual unison “Coming!” response, but none came.
“Hmm, that’s odd – I’m gonna go up and roust ‘em outa bed.”
“Remind them to wash up before they come down.”
She heard Regan taking the stairs up two at a time, then came the sound of his heavy feet moving quickly about the room.
“Pat, honey — you better come up here.”
Fear gripped the woman’s heart. She dropped the spatula with the last pancake onto the table and rushed up the stairs.
Regan stood in the middle of the room, his face drained of color.
“They’re gone.”
“What do you mean they’re gone?”
“Their beds look like they’ve been slept in, but they’re not here. Their shoes are gone, Emmy’s flashlight isn’t here.”
Pat looked slowly around the room, noticed the open window and then Emmy’s journal lying on her bed. She touched Regan’s arm. “Should we look in her journal?”
“Her journal?”
“Emmy’s journal, it’s right there on her bed.”
Regan rubbed his chin with his hand, “I, I’m not sure. We’ve always told her it was private, and we would never look in it.”
Pat bent down, picked up the journal and stepped around to look Regan in the eye. “It’s been our job to protect them. We’ve done a good job of that so far. But right now I have a feeling this is something more dangerous than two kids out for a walk.”
She put the journal into Regan’s hand.
He rubbed his chin. “I haven’t thought about those dangers for a long time. I don’t want to think we need to now, but I trust your sensitivity. So…”
Pat answered softly, “Let’s wait a bit. Can you take a look around outside first?”
“Good plan, I’ll take Booger. He can still track.” Regan turned to leave the room.
“Wait! Have you seen Booger this morning?” Pat asked.
Regan stopped in the doorway, “Um, you know, I haven’t seen him this morning. He usually wants to go out with me to the barn, but…I didn’t really think about it.” He turned and ran down the stairs calling, “Booger!” He whistled loudly and called the dog’s name again. There was silence and then came the sound of the back door closing. Then the screen door slammed, and he called “Booger!” again.
Pat headed for the bedroom door, stopped, turned, walked back grabbed the journal, put it into her apron pocket and then headed down the stairs.
When she got to the kitchen, Regan was coming in the back door out of breath. “I can’t find the dog or the girls out there anywhere.” He stood at the table and gulped some of his coffee down.
Pat pulled the journal out of her apron pocket and set it on the table in front of him. “Then I think it’s time we snooped a little.”
“Are you sure?” Regan’s eyes met and held hers.
Pat nodded, “Yes, they’ve never disappeared like this before and Booger being gone makes me sure it’s the right thing to do. As old as he is, he’s still really protective of Emmy and would follow if he thought she was going anywhere.”
Regan sat and slowly opened up the journal, “Just the last entry or two…ok?”
Pat nodded.
He thumbed the journal to get to the empty pages and then went back to find one dated the previous day. Reading the last entry, his eyes grew wide. He turned to see Pat covering her mouth with her hand and whispering, “Oh, no!”

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