Indigenous Arts & Stories - The Missing

The Missing

2011 - Writing Winner

I awoke early this morning with a nightmare. There were tears in my eyes. I must’ve been crying in my sleep because Jim was trying to wake me up. I must be losing my mind. There are so many people in the house as if someone died, but no one has died. She’s just missing, I want to shout at them, she’ll come home, she’s not dead.

Read Mary Diamond's The Missing

Mary Diamond

Waskaganish, QC
The Crees of Waskaganish First Nation
Age 26

Author's Statement

I chose this subject to base my story on because it’s something that I find terrifying and interesting at the same time. Across Canada, many Aboriginal women go missing and it seems most of the time, nothing is done to find these missing women. Through the two characters, I wanted to portray the terror and agony a family endures when a young Aboriginal woman goes missing. Although the story does not speak for all missing Aboriginal women, it is one of the possible scenarios that might happen when an Aboriginal woman goes missing.

The other reason that I chose this subject is the lack of support from law enforcement and the Government, and this lack of support is something I find very unsettling. Through the main characters, I wanted to portray a human face in the struggles of those gone missing, both in the literal and figurative sense, Kelly being the literal, while Diane being the figurative. I wanted to demonstrate through their narrative that this is something that could happen to anybody, Native and non-Native alike.

And finally, I chose this subject because I believe that this is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly, that these women who’ve gone missing are not always runaways; I believe this is an issue that needs to be addressed. And that something needs to change.


The Missing

The sun is setting, placing the small reservation in a nice summer glow. Children are laughing in the distance as two teenage girls walk along the dirt covered road towards the gas station. ‘Why don’t you ask Stephen out?’ one asks. ‘I don’t know, isn’t that a little desperate for a girl?’ says the other. ‘No way, guys love that, Kelly.’ They laugh and Kelly pushes her friend, Mikayla, playfully. The walk lazily, as teenagers sometimes do, dragging their feet, when Mikayla says, ‘Well this is as far as I go, I’m going home from here.’ Mikayla walks in the other direction. ‘Later, gator,’ Kelly says. ‘Ask Stephen out,’ shouts Mikayla, teasingly. Kelly rolls her eyes and sticks out her tongue, causing Mikayla to laugh. They continue walking in their separate directions. Mikayla looks back at Kelly once, smiling, and continues on her way home, never noticing the blue van that has begun following Kelly as she walks towards the highway.

It’s been two days. I wander from room to room in my own house yet I feel like I’m lost in a maze. Two days. Where are you, Kelly? Jim and I called all of her friends, including Mikayla, the last person to see her, and they don’t know where she is. They haven’t seen her. Mikayla says her and Kelly went for a walk, when Mikayla decided to go home, Kelly went to the gas station to get some cigarettes. The gas station is near the highway. Jim, where would I be without him? Called to ask if she’d been there Sunday night. She didn’t make it there. I refuse to believe she ran away. Why would she leave without her wallet, without her favourite necklace, without the warmth of a sweater? She last wore faded jeans and a white t-shirt and red converse shoes. She must be cold. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. The police aren’t helping. They just asked a few questions, nearly forced them to take a photo of Kelly. The setting sun reminds me they haven’t called all day. I look out the window, waiting for Kelly to come home. Where has she gone? Why can’t I follow?

I can’t move. My hands and my feet are tied together. I feel like I’ve been drugged. I think I’m in a car or a van because I heard a sliding door slam shut before. I can hear them talking sometimes, their voices muffled, like being in a hotel room and you can hear the people next door talking but you can’t make out what they’re saying. I’m so scared, if feels like my heart is gonna burst. I can feel the flow the car moving very fast. Wherever it is we’re going, we’re going fast. I want mom. Why did I have to go to that stupid gas station? We must be on a highway. Going where, I don’t know.

I awoke early this morning with a nightmare. There were tears in my eyes. I must’ve been crying in my sleep because Jim was trying to wake me up. I must be losing my mind. There are so many people in the house as if someone died, but no one has died. She’s just missing, I want to shout at them, she’ll come home, she’s not dead. Get out, I want to shout. But I know they mean well. Friends I haven’t spoken to in years come offering food, their condolences. It’s ok for you, I think, your daughter isn’t the one that’s gone. I snapped at Jim yesterday when he implied that maybe Kelly did run away. I can’t believe that. I think I know my own daughter, Jim, I said, and I knew I hurt his feelings. Kelly’s his step-daughter yet I know Jim loves her like his own, and Kelly loves Jim like a father too. I just…I’m so angry. Every day I walk to the gas station and stand near the highway and I wait. I stand there and wait, and watch the cars rushing by. Quebec, Ontario license plates are usually what I see, but sometimes I see Alberta plates, even B.C., and there are American plates too. I wait and wait, but there’s nothing.

I can’t see. My eyes are covered. The car has stopped. In the dark, I listen to whatever noise I hear and I hear the sound of a gas nozzle being opened. Someone is filling the car with gas and then I hear it, people talking, children laughing. Gas station! I’m at a gas station. I move and start kicking the side, making as much noise as I possibly can. I try to scream but something’s over my mouth and my screams sound muffled. Please, I just wanna get out. I kick the side a few times when the back doors opens and slams shut. Must be a van. Someone has come in, one of the guys who grabbed me. Shut up, he says, a deep voice. He’s kicking me, in the stomach, in the legs, and the pain is paralyzing. Shut up! And then there is nothing.

I ask Jim to call the police station every day, if they have any updates. But they never do. Nothing’s changed, they say. Nothing’s changed. The time I called I asked if they did an Amber alert for Kelly. They said no. I nearly freaked out. They claim they don’t call an Amber alert on a runaway. I couldn’t believe it. Why aren’t they helping? This is crazy. Jim says it’s because we’re Natives but I didn’t listen to him. I’m going crazy from worry that I don’t really listen. I just can’t stand not doing anything yet I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to begin. I’ve never lost her before. My own daughter, why couldn’t I protect her? Why did I let her go out that day? She’s 17 years old, and she’s gone out before and always came home, yet why wasn’t I there? Why did I let her go? Why couldn’t I save her?

I can’t scream. My mouth is silenced and it terrifies me. The van is moving again. I tried to make noises earlier for anyone to hear me, but I blacked out. The ache I feel in my head tells me someone kicked me or hit me and knocked me out. I can hear my own trembled breathing. I can’t hear them right now. I smell gasoline and vodka. What do they want from me? I move around the floor of the van, and feel with my hands, trying to grab anything. I feel scattered tools, cardboard and plywood. And then I feel it. It feels like one those multi-task tools, the kind my father has. I move it around my hands, opening various tools, trying to feel with my fingers to figure out what they are. And then I feel the sharpness of a knife. Yes! My heart’s pounding. The van just stopped.

I was lying down my bed early that evening. I was lying on my side, praying that my Kelly would come home. I looked at our family photograph, Kelly between me and her stepfather; we’re all smiling. I want those happy times back. I want back what I’ve lost. It was grey outside, the rain was coming down. There was no sun shining. Not for me, never for me. I turn on my back and stare at the ceiling. I didn’t notice before someone sitting at the edge of my bed. I look to see and to my amazement, it was Kelly. She looks at me quietly and smiles, I stare back and we just look at each other for a long time.

Where have you been, Kelly? I really missed you.

She doesn’t say anything, only places her hand over her heart.

She smiles at me. The rain is falling.

And then I wake up. It was a dream. I was lying in the same position as I had been in the dream, and I instantly looked where Kelly had sat, expecting her to be there. She wasn’t. She wasn’t anywhere. The cold room empty. For a moment, I believed the dream was real, it felt real, but then I remembered. I remembered that she was gone, and then I cried. My hands in my face. The rain falling. Oh, God, where is she?

The vehicle just stopped. I quickly hide the tool in my hands. I hear the driver’s door open and then, the passenger door, and then they slam shut. I expect the van door to slide open but it doesn’t. Instead, it’s quiet. It’s quiet like a funeral. After a few seconds I realize they’ve left me alone in the van and I think it might be enough time to cut off the tape and escape. First I try to cut it off my hands, but the sharpness of the knife cuts me a few times but I manage to cut my hands free. I took off whatever it was around my eyes. It was dark in the van. There was something in my mouth, with something tied over it. I took that off too. The dryness in my throat made me cough, but I quickly cut off the tape from my legs. Within a minute, I was free. I opened the door, I listened to hear any noise, if they were coming back but it was still quiet. Too quiet it scared me. I felt it was safe so I opened the door. The brightness of the sunlight blinded me as I covered my eyes. My heart was pounding so fast. For a few seconds, I took a look around. What surrounded me were fields of wheat grass, no one, not a sound. The sky was a beautiful blue that reminded me of the sea. In the distance, I saw corn fields, but no houses, but I figured someone must be around growing this corn. The lack of use of my legs and the beating made it difficult to walk, much less run, but I moved as fast as I could towards the corn field. I knew once I would reach the field, it would give me a chance to hide from them, to escape. After a few seconds, my legs were starting to get better and I was able to run a little. I looked back and I saw them. Two tall dark haired men were standing outside the van. They hadn’t seen me, so I started to run as fast as my feet allowed toward the field. Come on, come on, run faster, I can make it. Just as I reached the field, someone pulled me back. My hair was pulled, a large hand covered my mouth just as I was about to scream. The other man also came and grabbed my legs. I didn’t know who he was. I had never seen him before. I tried kicking them away, but the arms of the other man crushed me and I couldn’t fight them off.

Diane sat alone in Kelly’s room, dark and cold, staring at her untouched things, things that meant something to Kelly, while somewhere far away; Kelly was struggling with her abductors. Kelly tried to fight them off, but the two men were too strong for her. Kelly was thrown back into the van, her screams piercing but as the van drove away, her screams faded also, only to be replaced by the rustling of the crops and a bird’s song. In the silence, Diane stares at the reflection of Kelly’s mirror and wonders, why do I look so old? At the end of the day, no one can answer Diane’s questions, not even her.

These things, Kelly’s things, that Diane is surrounded by, are little reminders that her daughter is gone. Yet all she feels is a vast emptiness, like being lost at sea.

The very room breaks her.
There is nothing more to do.
She is suffocating.