Can the bonds of FRIENDSHIP overcome all odds?
The Code
Bethany exhaled loudly as she continued to scrub the siding of her house. She and her parents had been at this for an hour already, but there was still a lot of work to do. The eggs had dried, so they became crusty and messy. The silly string had become sticky from sitting out in the heat, so that was a hassle to clean up, as well.
Bethany narrowed her eyes. Whoever had done this had a lot of nerve, that was for sure.
After hours of pulling out forks and cleaning up, the mess was gone. Exhausted, Bethany went upstairs to her room. Her door was open. That’s odd... Bethany thought. I could have sworn I shut it. Bethany entered her room and turned to her closest to get Sapphire. The closest was empty.
And, slowly, reality began to sink in.
Sapphire was gone.
Dylan couldn’t remember how he got talked into this.
“It’ll build character,” his mom had said.
Dylan stared down at the grass and rolled his eyes. Right. Picking up trash at the community park was not his idea of character.
He took his pointed stick and stabbed an empty chip bag. “Die you foul fiend!” he exclaimed, earning him a disapproving glance from his community service leader. Dylan sighed. He was only trying to have a little fun. What was his problem?
He stabbed a candy wrapper and placed it in the garbage bag tied to his beltloop. He poked his stick into the ground and leaned upon it, looking around. For a Saturday afternoon, the park wasn’t as busy as he thought it’d be. There was several joggers scattered on the sidewalks, occasionally having to step aside for a bicycle or two. There was a family having a picnic under the picnic shelter, and a girl with fiery red hair on a park bench, her head in her hands, a old man walking a small dog, and-
Dylan squinted over at the park bench. He knew that mob of red hair.
He dropped his garbage bag and walked over. As he got closer, he could hear her crying. He sat down next to her and gently placed one hand on her shoulder. “Hey Bethany, you alright?”
Bethany looked up, startled. “Oh, Dylan,” she breathed, wiping tears from her cheeks. “What are you doing here?”
Dylan huffed. “My mom somehow talked me into picking up trash around town today. I was just over by the bathrooms, then I saw you and headed over.” He studied her face. “What’s wrong?”
Bethany took a deep breath and locked eyes with Dylan. “Sapphire’s missing,” she forced, trying to keep her cool. “Somehow my bedroom door got open and I can’t find her anywhere.” Tears began to well up in Bethany’s eyes again and she blinked them out furiously. “I’ve already looked all over town. Nothing.”
Dylan placed his other hand on Bethany’s knee comfortingly.
Her breaths began to sound shaky. “Dylan, I’m scared. What if somebody finds her?”
Dylan bit his lip. If someone found Sapphire, then it’d be over. They’d call the police and then they’d take Sapphire away, probably to do tests on her or something. He looked back over at Bethany. That would crush her.
He swallowed hard. “They won’t,” he stated, matter-o-factly. “Because we’re going to find her first.” Dylan grabbed Bethany’s hand and pulled her up. “Come on.”
“But, Dylan,” she sobbed. “I’ve already looked everywhere!”
“Maybe YOU have. But I haven’t.” And with that, Dylan excused himself from his community work, and he and Bethany embarked on the search for Sapphire.
“You’re sure?” he asked.
Bethany nodded. “One hundred percent sure. I just checked.”
Dylan sighed. “Okay then.” Dylan closed his eyes and searched his mind, trying to think of someplace they haven’t looked yet.
Bethany’s voice stirred him out of his thoughts. “It’s getting dark.”
Dylan opened his eyes and glanced at the sky.
“Our parents will be getting worried.” She frowned. “We should get going.”
Dylan crossed his arms. “But Sapphire’s still out here somewhere, Bethany. “We can’t leave her all night.”
Bethany placed her hand on Dylan’s shoulder. “Look, I’m not happy about it either. But we need to be getting home.” She tried to smile. “We can look some more tomorrow.”
Dylan shrugged. “Yeah, I guess.”
The two walked home in silence, both scared and worried that tomorrow might be too late.
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