He was always exceptionally good at hide and seek.
“Ryan? Ryan? RYAN?”
The other children, all hide and seek veterans themselves, were very much in awe of him.
“The house is empty, where is he? I haven’t talked to him since last Thursday.”
They would check behind the pillars, behind the trees, on all the staircases, around every corner, under the cars, behind the abandoned furniture. Near the rusty pipes and over the water tank. They’d scan every plausible place a child could hide himself.
“I haven’t heard from him for a week. He stopped coming to class. Won’t reply to texts, won’t pick up the phone.”
After an hour of wandering around the building, they would resort to shouting his name. They made a whole game out of it, who could shout the longest, the loudest, the shrillest.
“He deleted all his social media accounts yesterday. His cupboard’s half empty. His kitchen’s all empty. Newspaper on the table is last week’s, the one with the headline about the unsolved murders. God, they still haven’t caught the guy.”
One day, an especially determined child decided he wouldn’t leave until he found Ryan. He started with the enthusiasm of a seven year old. He ended up in trouble for returning home past midnight. Ryan took hide and seek very seriously.
“Would you please focus? Did Ryan owe anybody money? Make somebody angry? How could he just…vanish?”
Eventually, they would all give up. Then he would emerge, looking like a different person. His chin in the air, a large smile plastered across his face, the air around him saturated with superiority. Sometimes he even whistled.
“I don’t know, he was a nice person but he was always a little off. Remember the way he’d whistle?”
They played hide and seek almost every week for fifteen years. Ryan never revealed his hiding places.
“I’m calling the police.”
The others obstinately insisted that he cheated. Ryan didn’t cheat. He was just always exceptionally good at hide and seek.
Hi, I’m trying to branch out and explore a different style. Leave a comment so I know what you think. Thanks for reading!