Indigenous Arts & Stories - Where Is She?

Where Is She?

2017 - Writing Winner

Sundance Mack-Matthews

Peawanuck, ON
Peawanuck...Winusk First Nations
Age 13

Author's Statement

Hello. My name is Sundance Mack-Matthews, and I am a 13 year old in grade 8 from Peawanuck, Ontario. I lived in Peawanuck for more than half of my life, and this fall, I am going to high school. About the story I wrote, Where is She? It is about a young aboriginal teenager’s mother who went missing, and how she is coping with the thoughts of her mother. The girl’s name is Kiinai, and her father is an alcoholic, and her sister, whom she calls Nisheem, is 9 years old and stays with her kokum.
I came up with this story because so many aboriginal women have gone missing in Canada, and this is how I imagine how some families cope with their daughters or mothers missing. Kiinai’s family is “broken”, where her father is drinking alcohol, and her mother has gone missing. Her sister stays with her kokum, and she stays at her mom’s house with her dad.
Slowly, Kiinai becomes more and more depressed as the days go on. Her father drinks more every day, and Nisheem is kept in the dark. Kiinai stops going to school, and tries to avoid people and phone calls. Kiinai feels as if no one can help her, that no one will ever find her mother.


Where Is She?

It’s been 2 days since I’ve seen you. Silence overwhelmed me as I sit on the floor. Where are you? Where have you gone? My throat started to hurt, and I could barely swallow. My eyes began to get blurry. Are you gone? I look around desperately, as if I was going to find you in my room.

The cops came by earlier. It was confirmed, you had gone missing. I asked them if you were dead, and they said that they didn’t know yet.

I woke up, realizing that I fell asleep on the floor. I look at my journal and close it, throwing it under my bed. You’re gone. I fight the tears back and stand up. Why? Looking around, I notice that it’s freezing in my room. I left the window open last night. I miss the sound of your heartbeat. I miss how you hold me when I’m sad, angry, or lonely.

It’s way too quiet. So quiet, that I could hear a faint ringing in my ears because of it. Was it always this quiet? Nisheem seems to be asleep. I open my door, and all the lights were turned off, except the bathroom light. I sighed. I miss you.

It’s kind of strange, isn’t it, Mom? The way you smiled and said goodbye as you got onto the train for work. “See you tonight, love you.” you said. It’s been over 48 hours, and you didn’t come back. I waited for you for hours, and not once, did you come off the train. I fell asleep at the station, and when I woke up, you still weren’t back.

I waited for so long. I sat at home, and nisheem asked, “Where’s mom?” when she saw that you didn’t come back. “She missed the train. She’ll be back tomorrow night.” I lied; wishing what I told her was true. But it wasn’t. And it hurt because her eyes brightened, but then she became sad. “What if mom doesn’t come home?” I only looked at her, and ignored her.

72 hours.

No one knows when you’re going to come back. No one knows if you’re going to come back. Nisheem keeps asking kokum and I where you went. “Only time will tell us, baby. She’ll come home eventually…” The way kokum looked at me, she meant dead or alive. Are you gone, mom?

When I went to school, everyone was quiet and staring at me as I walked down the halls. There were whispers and a giggle or two. Then, the bell rang. Everyone began talking and laughing again as they made their way to their classes. I heard a slight ring, and a cough. The principal’s voice rang through the halls.

“Can Kiinai please come to my office? I would like to speak to you.”

I sigh and turn around on my heels. I have butterflies in my stomach, and I know that it’s about my mom. When I reach the principal’s door, I take in a deep breath and knock. I heard the mumbling quiet down, and a cough. “Come on, Kiinai.” I open the door and look around. “Sit down.” She said, and I go to sit down in front of her desk. “Hello, what is it that you want to talk about?”

“Hello, Kiinai. I just wanted to talk about your mother. I’ve heard rumours, and was wondering; is it all true? Has she gone missing?” she asked me.
I knew it. “Um, yes. 4 days, to be exact. Is that all you want to talk about?” I replied, quietly. Maybe, too quietly.

“I see. I just wanted to know how you are doing. Is your sister okay?”

“She’s alright.”

“And, what about you? How are you doing?”

I look at her and I felt tears coming. “She’s not coming home.”


96 hours

I didn’t go to school the next day. Dad wasn’t home, and nisheem was with kokum. Again, the house was silent. I felt numb, my mind was wandering. The house was cold. My throat feels dry. There’s the same ringing in my ears again.

Finally, I stand up. We don’t have food. I decide to head to the store.

I walk through the doors of the store, and everyone who was near looked at me. I saw my aunt, who looked like a wreck. When she saw me, she almost started crying and ran towards me. “Kiinai, oh my god, I’m so sorry about your mom!” She said to me. I didn’t reply, instead, I ignore her cries and apologies.

When I left the store, I only had eggs, milk, cereal, and coffee. I walked along the sidewalk in silence. I miss you. Come home. I enter the house and place the bag on the small table beside the door. “Nisheem?” I said, but there was no answer.

I expected her to be home by now, but I didn’t really check the time.

3:21 p.m.

I fall onto my bed and close my eyes. My room’s getting hot. I’m too tired to get up and open a window—my room’s going to get cold when I open it anyway. Have I slept since you disappeared? Maybe once or twice… I roll onto my side and try to relax. I try to not over-think, just like what nisheem likes to say: Over-thinking kills.

When I wake up, it’s in the early hours of the morning. I look at my alarm clock, and it says 2:04 a.m. I’m even messing up my sleeping hours. I don’t bother sitting up, so I just lie in bed. These thoughts of you are flooding through my mind. How? When? Where?

My inner turmoil is interrupted when I hear my phone buzzing on the nightstand. I look at it and read the contact name. Ashlynn K. I reach for my phone and answer it.

“Hello?” “Kiinai?”
“Yeah, it’s me.”
“Are you alright? Why are you still awake?”
“I could ask you the same thing, you know.”
“You know, Kiinai…our family is praying for your mother’s return. I am hoping that you are okay, and  we are praying for you and nisheem, too.”

I didn’t reply, but I only sighed in contempt. “Yeah, thanks, Ash.” I hung up. I try to go back to sleep, but I’m not tired. So, once more, I lie in bed calmly.

5 days

I woke up to my dad slamming the door open. “Kiinai, wake up! The cops are here.” He said, and I get out of bed instantly. I brush my hair quickly and go downstairs to the living room, where there were 3 officers and nisheem and kokum. Kokum was crying, and nisheem was trying to help kokum.

I only thought of the worst. My voice shook, “H…Has she been found…yet?” The officers all looked at each other. “Miss Kiinai…your mother has been found…but not alive.”

My world came crashing down.

Those words echoed in my mind.

You’re gone, forever.