Word Count: 600
I was eleven when Tyler Pendergrast fell into the hole. It happened after dinner on March 3rd; he went out to play down by the creek that ran behind the subdivision and never came home for bed. His ma called the police and apparently they were out there combing the woods for him, but they kept it quiet. All any of the rest of us knew was that he didn’t show up for school the next day.
By that evening, it was pretty clear that something was wrong. The grown-ups would have us leave the room when they took a phone call and then they would talk in whispers. My dad got a call during dinner and he went and got his flashlight and left with his plate still half-full. I begged him, but neither he nor ma would say what he was doing. I guess they figured the truth was scarier than whatever our imaginations might cook up.
The next day at school we all knew—Tyler Pendergrast was missing. I guess some parents weren’t as good at keeping secrets as mine were, and by then the whole community had basically shut down. The men were out walking the woods looking for him and the women went to something called a “phone bank.” Tyler’s ma got on the news and begged for whoever took him to bring him back. She was dressed up like for church, but she still looked like she hadn’t slept in days. She was on the news every evening for the next week.
By then he was dead. A couple kids found him that July. Jake’s dad is a police sergeant, and he heard that it’d taken him two days to die, according to the doctor who examined his body. By then, most of us had figured him for dead anyway. In truth, we’d kind of forgotten about it. Supposedly, when Lloyd Tompson got the news, his response had been “Tyler who?”
Tyler’s brother said he thought he’d run away. He said Tyler wasn’t very happy at home, but I don’t put much stock in that. After he disappeared, Tyler’s family got kind of messed up. By the time they found him, his dad had moved away and needed to come back for the funeral. I heard him say he was glad that nobody had done anything perverted to his boy. I guess you take whatever comforts you can in that sort of situation.
A couple of the parents wanted to fill the hole with cement or something so it could never happen again, but the alderman talked them out of trying. He said that with a sinkhole that size, there’s not much you can do. No telling when it first formed. For all we knew, the ground fell out from under Tyler’s feet.
I was fourteen when Jenna Avery fell into the hole. She’d had a fight with her boyfriend and hadn’t been paying attention to where she was going. She’d run away once before, so nobody thought much of it at first, but Jake and I eventually thought to look for her there.
She’d been down there for a day and a half with a broken ankle, sitting in a puddle of her own filth. She cried when we told her we’d have to leave to get help. She called us any number of filthy names. Later, her dad called us heroes.
I go back there every March 3rd. I stare and wonder what’s down there and wonder who, if anyone, would come looking if it was me that fell in.
Edited by Carolyn "My Imagination Does Terrible Things" Abram.
Like what you see? Help me out by liking my author page on Facebook or re-posting the story using the buttons below.