“Dani, can I come in?”
Still no answer. She must be listening to her Beatles album with headphones again.
He pushed the door open and could see the evidence that she’d not come back yet, since her books and homework were tossed on the bed the way they always were when she came home from school. Dani wasted no time getting to the next thing she wanted to do.
He leaned over the upstairs banister and yelled towards the kitchen. “Ame…she’s not upstairs in her room! Come to think of it, I don’t remember her coming back from her route yet, leastways not through the front door. Is she in back?”
Another small explosion of pans erupted from the kitchen. Amy came out, wiping her hands on a kitchen towel, and looked up the stairs. “Hm. She’s not in back. I didn’t think it would take this long for her to complete her collection. Maybe someone’s being difficult—probably the Smithers. They live on the corner—the house with that big maple, the next street over. Will you go check on her, Pete? I’m about ready to dish up.”
Peter could see the anxiety on his wife’s face. He realized there was probably a similar look on his face.
“Sure, Hon. She’s fine. Took one of her legendary shortcuts, I imagine, and lost track of time poking around the gorge behind Larch Drive. That was her last street to collect on. You know the saying, ‘The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’ We can’t expect the offspring of two archeologists to not lose track of time when she’s exploring. Throw everything back into the oven. I’ll be back in a little bit!” Peter hoped he sounded convincingly calm as he trotted down the steps to Amy.
“Check the Smithers’ place first! He’s a grumpy old man…and kind of creepy,” his wife said, clearly worried.
He smiled and gave her a little peck on the cheek, quickly grabbed his baseball cap and a flashlight from his office, and headed out their front door.
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