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Where's Suzie by Maxine Flam

It was a cold and rainy day, my birthday was. October 13th. I turned seven but there were no celebrations. Everybody came to the house to gather like we were having a party. There was food and cake, coffee and punch, but no one was happy. Mommy was dressed in black with a veil covering her face, the kind that Aunt Karen wore at her wedding but hers was white. Daddy wore a black suit with a black tie and white shirt. He kinda looked like a penguin I saw at the zoo. Everybody walked around with sad faces. Not Joey or Lexi, my two cousins. They were happy, running through the house laughing as always. Nana tried to keep us from chasing each other, but she was too old. All she could do was say shhhhh, but we didn’t pay no mind. Then it was time and all the grown-ups left. It was just Nana and us three kids. We put on our coats and ran outside jumping through puddles, laughing, and screaming at the top of our lungs and when we finished, we went in the house to get some water.

Nana was sitting next to the fire, knitting like she always does. We went over and sat near her and asked her to tell us a story. She had the best stories about growing up, or about Pop Pop, or about where she used to work, but she didn’t feel like talking. The time passed quickly and soon the grown-ups returned. The only one that wasn’t there was Suzie and no one would say where was.

Suzie was six years older than me and very mature for her age. She was so smart that she skipped two whole grades in school and was a freshman in high school. But it’s been a whole week and Suzie hasn’t come home. I tried to ask Mommy but she would cry and talk about something else. Daddy’s been too busy but I’m going to march up to him right now and find out where Suzie is. I know all the grown-ups are talking and it wouldn’t be right to bother Daddy now but I really need to know. One thing about Daddy, he always tells me the truth. Sometimes I don’t understand everything he says but he tries his best to explain it to me.

“Daddy, I need to talk to you. Can we take a walk?”

“Can we wait until later when all the people leave?”

“Daddy, it’s real important I talk to you. I tried to talk to Mommy but she doesn’t say anything. She just cries.”

“Sure, baby…let’s go for a walk.”

We left the house and I held Daddy’s hand. We didn’t get very far when I spotted something on the ground. I ran over and picked it up. It was a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest. It was dead. I brought it over to show Daddy.

He said, “Uh-huh, I see it.”

There were tears in his eyes. He had me lay it back on the ground where I found it. Then he took my hand and we walked down the path together.

Whispering, he said, “You asked where Suzie was….”

“Yes, Daddy?”

“She’s with the baby bird.”

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