“You knew I was going to say something to you, right?” Casey frantically texted B. She worried their friendship would dissolve because of the outed secret.

“We have to go, they will be here soon.” Aunt Jia brushed by Casey, grabbing the go-bag she had packed for this moment, “Here, give me your phone.” Casey was so worried about what B thought of her, she didn’t realize what Jia was doing with her phone until she heard a smash in the kitchen. Casey ran towards the noise, only to find that her phone was in pieces on the floor. Jia had already moved on to the next task of packing up all of their crucial belongings.

“Your bag! Where is your bag!” Jia shouted through the house. She was filled with panic; it was as if she couldn’t comprehend Casey was even there.

Casey ran upstairs, still shocked by her Aunt’s overwhelming behavior. She had no time to think. Neither of them did. They just had to get out before the cops showed up. Then, they needed to disappear.

2 Hours Earlier
The wind was cold, and the heaters were broken. Casey had come over without notice, something she did quite frequently through the school year. It was the first day of school, and B was anything but excited. She wore blue jeans with holes in the knees, and black vans to pair with her black long-sleeved t-shirt. There was only a pencil and one notebook packed in her bag. Maybe for freshman year, or even sophomore year, she would have prepared. But this is junior year: the magic of the first day of school had disappeared. Well, at least for B it did.

“You really should invest in better heating” Casey said as she walked over to grab a waffle off the plate B’s mom had set out.

“It’s not like I pay for the heating–I’m still in high sch–”

“Are you ready for your first day! It’ll be so much better than last year. Remember last year? How you tripped over that cord in the auditorium in front of all those people. I wish I could have been there to see that.”

“Yeah, I remember. Thanks,” B cringed at the memory, “why don’t you just transfer to my school, then? You live in the area, so I don’t see the issue.” B met Casey for the first time during her freshman year of high school. She bought two movie tickets to see the new movie, Murder On The Orient Express.At the time, B had a different best friend. One that made little effort to see B, which was certainly demonstrated when she had backed out of seeing the movie with her. So, when B saw a girl her age struggle to get a ticket, she was glad to offer up her extra one.

At the beginning of their friendship, she explained to her that she is homeschooled. Therefore, all of her classes are online. She does not have to go anywhere, nor does she need to sit in a crowded room full of kids who don’t want to be there. B was jealous, but she was grateful for Casey. She was kind to Casey, regardless of B’s passive aggressive demeanor.

B said, moving on: “I’ve got to get to school, Casey. See you after?”
“Of course!” Though, that was before Casey’s normal day turned into a circus.

B, ducking behind the frantic students in the halls, was focused on getting to class. The bustle of kids swarming the school annoyed her–if only there were more people like Casey. Walking by the administrative office, she caught a glimpse of the television. It was a news report about some found kid who had been missing. B almost dismissed the moment until the face of Casey flashed on the screen. B turned quickly into the office to find out why her best friend was on the news as a missing girl.

The reporter stated: “Missing 17 year old girl, who was kidnapped by her Aunt at the age of 4, seen at a local shopping mart. Officials say they received surveillance footage of the girl stealing from the mart. Forensics ran the picture of the girl through their system, and her photo matched with the projected sketch of the missing girl as a teenager. Police have not yet been able to locate the girl, nor her Aunt, but are working on finding her now. They also added that they believe the girl would not be on their radar if she hadn’t tried to steal. Next up in the next half hour–”

B was in shock. Fumbling in her bag, she searched for her phone to call Casey. When she didn’t answer, she tried texting. Getting to her classes was no longer a priority. She ran out of the office, and made her way out of the school

Now running to her car, she heard a buzz from her phone in the passenger’s seat. At an incoming intersection, the light turned red. B picked up the phone to read the message. It was from Casey: “I’m so sorry you had to find out this way. You knew I was going to say something to you, right?”

The traffic light turned green. The car behind her honked, but she was too wrapped in confusion to notice. Thoughts were scrambling in her head: who is Casey? Why didn’t she tell me? What happened to her? Reality seeped in as she caught the scene of cars trying to get past her in the corner of her eye. She continued driving, only to realize that she did not know where to go or what to do. She did not know where Casey lived, nor did she know if she would even be at her house. While driving aimlessly, she tried calling Casey again. It went straight to voicemail. After trying to call 5 more times, she gave up. She wasn’t going to get a hold of her. She was never going to see her again.