Where Is Marina? My Entry For The Ink Well Prompt #31 and FLASH FICTION CONTEST!

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(Edited)

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"Hello, Sir. Have you found my daughter yet? My name is Sheila Cogges."

"Sorry ma'am, I don't have any updates."

"How could you lose her?!?!"

"The foster family said she left in the middle of the night. She didn't even leave a note. No one knew where she was going. Or that she planned to leave. Why would a ten-year-old do that?"

"I don't know. Maybe she was trying to come home, and got lost. My baby..." she broke down, sobbing.

"I need to go now, ma'am. I will call you the moment we hear anything."

Click.

Marina looked up, wondering where she was. Oh yes, in the park. Under a tree. The click was from the nearby path, probably a bike.

"I sure miss my mom, but it won't be safe to go home for a couple more days. They'll look for me there."

Marina had been placed in a foster home by Child Protection Services when a neighbor mistakenly thought she was being abused by her single mother.

"It's my fault I'm in this mess! If I hadn't lied to the babysitter about being allowed to watch Stephen King's The Shining, I never would have had that nightmare. Then I never would have shrieked in the middle of the night, waking up the whole building."

Angry at herself, she brushed the dirt off of her clothes. She got in line at the nearby street vendor. "There's my mom over there. I'll have a hot dog, fries, and a shake please."

"That's fine, little lady. Just send her on over when you can."

Marina ate by the duck pond on the other side of the park.

Meanwhile Sheila was at home, distraught and on her knees beside her bed.

"What have I done, dear God? Whatever it is, please don't punish Marina. Punish me instead. Just let my baby girl be safe."

Marina spent the rest of the day at the mall. Nobody paid any attention to her.

"Maybe I can sleep in here tonight. It should be warm and safe. It was a really bad idea staying in the park, what if someone found me?"

Near closing time, she squeezed into a clothes rack, invisible even from a few inches away. Marina knew that she would have to stay there after the store was locked up. There would be a guard, and security cameras.

"I'll just lay down, it's not that bad. I can take a few of these dresses to sleep on, the ring will still be plenty tight to hide me."

"Let's just wax the floor, then we can get an early start on Shoe City."

"Sounds good. Why clean it if it's not dirty?"

"Oh no, I forgot about the cleaners!" Marina thought, alarmed.

After a long day of looking for a hiding place, Marina hadn't found any good options. "Maybe I should go home tonight. It would be so nice to sleep in my own bed."

She yawned, trying to decide how to spend the final hours of her ordeal. "I think I will take the walking trail Mom and I use every Sunday afternoon after church. It should be quiet at this time of night, and once I finish it will be getting dark."

"I'll sit and watch the fish in the pond, just like Mom and I always do. Then it will be time to go home. Home! Dorothy was right, there's no place like home!"

She dozed off, then was jarred wide awake by a hand resting on her shoulder. She bolted upright, and the hand fell away. She leaped back, but the man in the white tee shirt and sweat pants didn't move an inch.

"Are you lost, Miss?"

"No. I'm fine, Sir. I'll be on my way now. It's getting dark."

"Yes I noticed. A young lady such as yourself shouldn't be out here alone."

"Thank you, but I'm fine. I shouldn't even be talking to you."

"Very smart, it's never a good idea to talk to strangers. How about if you go on your way? I will stay in sight, but I won't try to get close to you. Would that be alright?"

Marina weighed her options. He was close. Too close, he could catch her easily. This would be an opportunity to put some distance between them.

"I guess so, but not too close."

"It's a deal, Miss."

Marina bolted, and didn't look back until she was on the steps of her own apartment building. With her hand on the door, she chanced a look. He was standing about a hundred feet away, waiting. He smiled and waved. She went in.

"Marina! Where have you been?!?!?! I have been worried sick." sobbed Sheila into her daughter's hair.

"I had to hide, if I came straight home they would have just taken me again. I'm sorry I scared you."

Knock knock knock

"Who is it?" said Sheila in a tearful voice.

"It's Detective Sanderson. Please open the door."

When she looked out of the peep hole, she saw a man in a white tee shirt and sweat pants, holding a badge. Her daughter had disappeared. She sighed and opened the door.

"Mrs. Cogges?"

"Yes?"

"I believe I found your daughter. And that she is now home. May I talk to her, please? I promise not to take her anywhere."

"Marina. Can you please come here for a minute?"

"I'm already here." said a voice from behind the curtains.

"Your actions just confirmed what I guessed all along. But I still need to hear your story. If you promise to stay here, when the time comes both you and I will talk to the judge together."

"It's a deal!" Marina said, smiling for the first time since she had been taken.

This is a 100% power up post

Prompt used: no one knew where she was going

Cover image is from Canva, using their gallery and some of my original artwork



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62 comments
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Yay! 🤗
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This is a satisfying story, @wrestlingdesires. You develop the prompt into a believable, cohesive narrative. Thank you for posting the story in the Ink Well community. And, thank you for engaging with your fellow authors.

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Hello @wrestlingdesires,

This story is so real. It captures the fear of a child and the dilemma of being caught up in the bureaucracy of Child Protective Services. I know people who have had to deal with the agency, and once the agency gets a report, bad things (and good things) can happen.

Excellent use of the prompt. Good scene and character development. Great story arc.

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Thanks so much for the kind words :) Honestly I wasn't quite sure, as it really needed another 150 to 300 words, but I did manage to cut it like you taught me :)

!ALIVE !PIZZA

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Thank you for the alive and pizza, again. You know, I'm a former teacher. Which means I'm a natural cheerleader. Easy to cheer for someone who puts in effort and gets results.

Have a great creative day.

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I will definitely be having a creative day, thanks to you :) I really wouldn't call you a former teacher, as you are still teaching - me, at least :)

!ALIVE !PIZZA

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I loved that you took the story through the foster system. It is really scary how easily families can be disrupted. I know the other side of the system though where children are removed for good reason and adopted into families that provide them with the love and care that they deserve. thankfully Marina's story turned out ok for her.

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Thanks so much for your kind words and support :)

Yeah, it can be different each time - but sadly we hear so many horror stories of kids being left in abusive homes, taken from good loving families to be put in bad places, etc.
!ALIVE !PIZZA

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Great work is all that I can say. The dialogue is real, I believe it. The mention of The Shining, which connects to literary/film legends: Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick, made me smile. :)

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I love a story with a happy ending.

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(Edited)

Same here :) Marina deserved to have her way after all that!!!

!ALIVE !PIZZA

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What a sweet story, @wrestlingdesires. I loved reading about Marina's adventures, how she looked out for her own safety and made her way back home. Clever girl! Thanks for joining the contest.

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Thank you :) I think that most kids really are smarter than we give them credit for. They just don't have the experience needed in most cases, but that can be partially compensated for by teaching. It sounds like her mom did a good job too :)

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Too bad Marina had to pass through that trauma all alone in a lonely place to avoid being seen. I remember how terrifying it was for me some times ago when I ran from home to avoid being beaten

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That must have been scary... Did you have anywhere to run to? At least Marina had a final goal in mind!

!ALIVE !PIZZA

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I had no place in mind. I just wanted to go far from home

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Did you have to go back? Or did you end up in a good place? Home should always be a safe haven, a place to run to - not away from :( ...

This is exactly the time that child protection services should step in and help.

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Yeah, but it's been long now and I was actually running from being beaten by an offense I commited

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Oh, then it wasn't a constant thing? That still doesn't make it a good thing to do.

!PIZZA !ALIVE

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What an interesting story. Marina is a really intelligent little girl

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Thanks so much for your compliment :)

Yes she is, and very lucky too! Her adventure could have ended in disaster at any moment. But she made it home :)

!PIZZA !ALIVE

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You are a fantastic storyteller! And Marina is one brave girl who did not allow the system to take her away from her mother.

Can you clear this part for me? Hehe, I got lost like Marina too. I wondered who were those conversing here,

"I'll just lay down, it's not that bad. I can take a few of these dresses to sleep on, the ring will still be plenty tight to hide me."

"Let's just wax the floor, then we can get an early start on Shoe City."

"Sounds good. Why clean it if it's not dirty?"

"Oh no, I forgot about the cleaners!" Marina thought, alarmed.

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Captivating story! A lesson never to forget in a hurry. I can only imagine her mom's torture all the while.

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I think the mom had it much worse than Marina! I'm glad you enjoyed it:)
!PIZZA !ALIVE

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I must say this story kept me anixous all through because I was just looking forward to how everything will end. You gave a satisfying resolution.

It deals with happens in the real life. Marina is strong character and a very determined one.

I enjoyed your story. Nice one 😎

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Thanks so much :) Yes, she is strong, not all kids get the happy ending.
!PIZZA and !ALIVE

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Wow Marina is a brave one to take on a mini adventure at the park and then at the mall all alone at such a tender age. Child Protective services although it has its good uses can also be worrisome in cases.

I liked the tension you build up throughout! Excellent use of dialogue

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Thanks so much for the kind words :)
!PIZZA !ALIVE

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No problem :). Thank you for the tokens (✿◡‿◡)

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You should see how relieved I felt knowing that Marina got home safely in the end.
Your story is quite captivating and suspenseful. Well done!

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Thanks so much :) I hope the one forming in my head now turns out like that too!

!PIZZA

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Excellent story, you've come a long way. It has a good development of events and a good anticipation of what happened before.

The message you leave in this story is significant for many people. I have been a fan of your work for a long time and I am very happy with the way you have done it.

Greetings and much success.

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Thanks so much for the kind words:) I am very sorry for the late reply. It's a real honor that you liked it :)

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