The girls were best friends ever since childhood, Gabriella and Samantha. They grew up in neighbouring houses in the town of Hannibal, Missouri. Their parents had been good friends. Of course, being from Hannibal both girls were de facto Mark Twain fans. They aged reading about the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn; Gabriella always wanted to sail on rafts.
Samantha spent most of her time at Gabriella’s place. They played with their raggedy Ann dolls and their tea sets. Gabby and Sam spent nights in their bedrooms under the blanket, switching on their torches, and telling scary stories till they were terrified of going to sleep without holding hands. Even on nights they didn’t sleep over, they’d leave their bedroom windows open and giggle for hours.
Their adolescent years were mostly fun and memorable, expect for one dark blotch. Both their prom dates had mysteriously disappeared. The police had looked for weeks, but couldn’t find the two teens. Of course, Gabby and Sam were questioned, but they were so inconsolable and heartbroken, that they were nearly incoherent and mostly incomprehensible. The police chief concluded that the teens must have left town to try and make their lives elsewhere. He didn’t blame them, the town of Hannibal had little opportunities for young men or women who wanted to make their way in life. It was highly likely that the teens had run to some big city looking for jobs and chasing dreams.
It has been seven years since that unfortunate incident. Gabby is now a reporter for a local news channel in New York. Sam had followed her dreams and is a sales representative for a company that made something like magic mops. They shared a room through college and moved into a big apartment off 84th street, last fall. Gabby has been going steady with a news anchor who works for the same channel. Sam is still getting over her college breakup. But all things considered, in a big bad world, these girls have made a safe place for themselves. Their apartment is warm and inviting, there is always food on the table, always wine in the cooler and conversation flow freely. Gabby came home with her boyfriend Kyle one day. Sam was lounging on the couch watching some local news about missing people. Apparently, these cases had the local police at wits’ end. In the absence of any bodies there just wasn’t much evidence to go on, however.
Sam quickly changed the channel when she heard the key turning in the lock. Gabby hated watching these news reports. She called it hacked and over sensationalised. However, today she wasn’t even looking. Her eyes were closed and her mouth was firmly pressed against Kyle’s. How they made it through the door remained a mystery to Sam. She cleared her throat to let them know of her presence. Gabby made the necessary introductions and the trio sat down on the couch drinking wine and chatting. Kyle was definitely getting comfortable and his body language showed as much. He had his arm casually draped around Gabby and turned his face towards Sam, he laughed at some joke about Sam’s workplace. After a while Kyle asked Gabby “Hey babe, what’s for dinner?”
Gabby’s and Sam’s faces lit up. They looked positively angelic at that moment. They replied in unison— “Why? You.”
Two days later the local chief of police added the name Kyle Granger to the list of missing people.
Photography By: Simran Bakshi