Last night I heard something on the news that caught my attention. After 27 years, there is finally a DNA match to a body that was found shortly after the disappearance of Colleen Orsborn. Colleen was 15 years old the last time she was seen, and although I hadn’t mentioned her name in my memoir, it is she that I was referring to in this excerpt:
I have to walk through a very dark, seedy part of town to get to school. It’s scary sometimes, especially being a small girl – and more so after Mike Riley ended up in the hospital when he got jumped for his wallet on his way home from school.
I am walking to school by myself this morning. It’s humid out, even though it’s only about seven o’clock, and I am already sweaty. The sun is still coming up. I try to walk with others, but there usually isn’t anyone else around. An older dark skinned man in a pickup truck pulls up beside me. I don’t look at him and keep walking, clutching my books tightly against my chest.
“Would you like a ride?” he asks.
“No thanks,” I answer.
“Come on,” he insists. “I’ll give you a ride. Get on in.”
“No,” I persist, but he won’t leave.
I think my heart is going to pound out of my chest. All I can think to do is run, and run fast, before I get kidnapped and disappear like the girl from my school did last year.
The man continues driving beside me. I run faster. All I want to do is get on campus where other people can see me. It is three blocks away, and I am already out of breath. The man finally gives up and drives away.
I am hysterical by the time I arrive at school. I look for my friends. One of them tells our principal, Mr. McCrary. I give him a description of the man and his truck, and he calls the company that the truck belongs to. No one knows who is in the truck, because the company no longer owns it. I am afraid to walk to and from school anymore, but I have no choice, because Mom doesn’t have a car.
“Just run if someone comes up to you again,” she says.
Luckily, a boy named Mike Nelson promises to walk with me most of the way home, at least until we are out of the dark part of town.
Finally, because of all of the violence and missing girls in the area, the school arranges for a bus stop.
-excerpt from UNHEARD: a memoir
©2010 Susanna Hartigan