Hannah Rouse
When our hearts break, so does the world. From small heartbreaks to the ones so deep and so scarring that we don’t know if they’ll ever recover, splits and fissures are created in the land around us. Of course, most people don’t stay in their grief forever, but the world doesn’t heal as we do. Even if we move on and let out grief and sorrow go, those cracks and crevices don’t fade or fill in. They stay, absorbing into the fabric of existence. Because some scars are just too deep and too painful to ever be completely erased. No matter how much we want them to be.
December 1st, 10:22 pm
She’s not gone. Felicity is not gone.
She can’t be. She was here just five hours ago, leaving for Sherry’s house. She was on her phone, and just walked out of the door.
She’s not gone. She's not gone. She's not gone.
But she isn’t here either.
She’s out there somewhere, lost.
Zarina grips my hand, her fingers lacing through mine. But I can’t move. I can’t breathe. Nothing in my body wants to work how it’s supposed to. My arms are numb, my ears are ringing, my legs, frozen. I feel the tears begging to be released out of their cage inside me, but I am too stunned and too weak to let them out.
I should blink. I should breathe. I should do something other than sit here.
But I can’t.
The police talk to us about Felicity — about where she may have run to. They think she ran away.
But Felicity wouldn’t run away. She didn’t run away.
I need to find her. I can’t be sitting here talking about her to the police — I need to be out there looking for her.
I need to—
“Mr. Samuels?” The officer’s voice breaks through my thoughts.
“I need to find her.” I realize my fingers are resting on the doorknob.
Where I plan on going, I don’t know. What I plan on doing, I don’t know either.
“Mr. Samuels, I understand this is hard for you. But trust me when I say, we will do everything we can to find your daughter.” There is genuine pain in his voice, in his eyes.
“Alistar, please,” Zarina begs. I’m overreacting — she’s fine, she’ll be fine, the police will find her and everything will be okay.
But no.
Nothing can or will be okay until she’s here. She’s somewhere out there, somewhere that isn’t home. And no matter what it takes, I am going to find her.
Even if I have to search the whole world just to bring her back, I will.
December 2nd, 11:05 pm
26 hours, 42 minutes — she’s been missing. For 26 hours and 42 minutes, my little girl, my daughter, hasn't been safe.
I should’ve made sure she got where she was going. I should’ve checked on her three hours later when I saw her car was still in the driveway. I should’ve done something other than assume she’d be fine. Because things always seem fine. It always seems like the bad things would never happen to you, and then when they do — your world, held up by that belief, shatters.
If I had just been a little more cautious, just a little more protective, just a little more present, maybe she would still be here.
The cold outside has somehow made it into my body, even though I should be protected by the walls of a home our family spent years inside. But those walls are crumbling and leaving behind only ashes and dust.
Zarina and I put up pictures of her everywhere we could. Pictures of our daughter’s smiling face line every street. Her beautiful, smiling face. Seventeen years worth of memories are strung up for everyone to see, so they can help us find her.
I can’t just sit back and do nothing. I have to be out there. I have to help look for her.
“I know what you’re thinking, Al,” Zarina whispers, almost as if words are too much to handle.
“I have to go. I have to be out there.” My words, apparently, are also too much.
Words have more weight than we give them credit for because the words left unsaid between us feel like a concrete wall separating our worlds.
December 4th, 5:44 am
Almost 3 days.
Almost 72 hours of nothing but silence.
72 hours of unanswered calls. 72 hours of texts left unread.
72 hours of missing a missing girl. My missing girl.
Every spare moment left in my life is spent looking, refreshing the website, calling an officer for the 14th time for updates that lead to no more answers than I started with.
Our tears stain the walls of the house, absorbing into the emptiness that comes with loss.
We spend the days searching and we spend the nights praying. Praying for answers, for any sign that she’s there, but silence is the only thing that greets us.
Though maybe the answers would be more painful than the wondering.
At least if there is no definite, we can hope, which may just be the only thing holding us together.
December 10th, 10:27 am
They’re stopping the search.
“No evidence,” they say regretfully.
No reason to believe she’s anything more than a memory now.
Just another missing girl.
As if every trace of Felicity has been erased from the world and all that’s left is a stack of hopes and dreams and thoughts collecting dust in the corner of her unentered room.
I pull Zarina into a hug — and the world inside me resumes. For just a single, excruciating moment, I am present. Not a ghost floating through the empty space I called home.
But, shoving the comfort away, we welcome the desperation like an old friend, letting it into the remains of our house, allowing it to split the walls, the ceiling. Locking doors and closing windows and growing mold in the corners. It’s a wonder our house is still standing.
The police may have given up, but I refuse to believe that my daughter has been reduced to a statistic. I refuse to let myself think that she is anything but okay, anything other than alive and waiting for us to find her. Because she has to be alive, she has to be out there somewhere. People don’t just disappear. They don’t just walk away one day and leave nothing in their wake. There has to be something, anything that gives even the slightest hint that she’s alive.
And whatever that is, I’m going to find it.
January 1st, 1:17 am
Sleep doesn’t come easily anymore. It always had for us, until she went missing.
How can we sleep not knowing where she is, but knowing she’s not here? Knowing she’s not in the next room, sleeping as we should be.
I just want her back. I just want her to come home. I want to hug her, to tell her how much she means to me. I want to hear her laugh and see her smile. I would give anything. Anything to have just one more moment that isn’t only a fading memory.
The holidays came and went. But really, what did Zarina and I have to be cheerful about? All we have left is each other, and we are both too broken to support the other.
A month has passed now. 31 days of missing, of hoping, of losing, and then falling back down, before eventually picking up enough leftover strength to do it again the next day only to get the same answers. 31 days of silence and memories that may never be shared again.
It feels like a piece is missing. The spot where Felicity sat at the table is empty. The room she slept in is kept shut and unentered, because going in knowing she wouldn't be there would feel like saying goodbye.
Goodbyes like that are only for when you know someone isn’t coming back, and all Zarina and I have left is the hope that she will.
February 28th, 3:26 pm
No, this can’t be happening.
“Hit by a car,” they say.
“May not wake up,” they say.
They say they're doing everything they can to help her, but the odds aren’t on our side.
I look at her, eyes closed, surrounded by machines that are just about the only things tethering her to life.
There’s nothing I can do for her here, the doctors tell me. But I don’t want to leave.
The only place I can go is the empty building that used to be home and the bed with an empty side next to me.
March 4th, 2:42 pm
When the heart monitor stops, so do I. Again I forget that I need to breathe and blink in order to stay alive.
I never got to tell her how much she meant to me either. I didn’t get to see her smile one last time before she died. I didn’t get to hug her, or laugh with her, or say goodbye.
The people you love aren’t supposed to die. Spouses aren’t supposed to get hit by cars, and children aren’t supposed to vanish into thin air.
Her eyes will never open again. Her heart won’t beat again.
And she will never see our daughter again.
I walk up to the house, and it feels unfamiliar to me. The rooms and hallways are the same, but it's not the home I know and love; it is only a house that used to hold a family but now stays full of ghosts. There’s no one left here to fill it with life, so it has none. It's not a home anymore — it's only some walls I’m trapped inside.
Piece by piece I feel my heart breaking apart, knowing that those pieces can never come back until I find Felicity. Zarina is gone, she isn’t coming back. Felicity is all I have left to hope for, so I’ll search until I find her.
March 7th, 10:53 am
The world doesn’t stop, even when you need it to. The world won’t put its agenda on pause for a funeral, or for a broken man to grieve his missing child. The world keeps going, it keeps spinning, the sun keeps shining, and people keep living.
Condolences float around the room like oxygen. As much as I don’t want to, I need them. Even though words will never be strong enough to fix whatever is left of the life I once knew, it still feels good to know that I’m not alone — even when I feel like the only thing that seems to comfort me is the hope of finding something that may not still exist.
So I swallow what’s left of my tears and pain and make a promise to Zarina. I will find Felicity. Find the little girl who made our lives worth living.
Six years later
I open the front door regretfully. As much as I hope it is, a small part of me knows Felicity isn’t there. A small, quiet part of me buried deep inside knows that once six years of nothing pass, the silence is probably not temporary, no matter how much I want someone, anyone to make a sound.
A boy, around the age Felicity would be by now, stands there. He has a hazed look in his eyes, almost like he isn’t really here.
“Can I help you?” I ask, and he just looks at me for a second.
He bites his lip and opens his mouth to say something before closing it and sighing. His eyes are bloodshot, with dark bags under them as if he hasn’t slept in weeks. Pulling out a slip of paper from the pocket in his hoodie, he moves his eyes to stare at the ground.
“Take it,” he whispers, keeping his eyes trained to the porch under his feet. “Take it before I have time to change my mind.”
Confused, I cautiously take the paper from him. He turns away from me, sighing again before walking away. I am left with only questions, though I’m used to it by now.
All I’ve gotten from the past six years are questions that may never be answered.
I open the paper. As much as I don’t think it's smart or safe, I feel like it was given to me for a reason, and it would only be right to find out what that reason is.
The paper is crumbled, aged, and stained, almost as if it had been thrown out several times.
I killed her, it reads. I killed Felicity.
This feels like a joke, like something that isn’t real. She can’t be dead. She can’t be.
Otherwise, what have I spent the last six years searching for? A girl who could never have come home, no matter how much she wanted to or needed to? If she’s really dead, how could she not have been found by now? If he really killed her, how did the police not find him?
And why now? Why come and tell me six years after she’s been dead and he’s gotten away with it? Why?
I loved her, but she didn’t feel the same. If I couldn’t have her, no one could. It ends there. The words just end.
It can’t be real. It can’t.
She can’t be dead.
But somewhere, the same part that knew she wasn’t at the door, needs to believe it's true. It wants to end the suffering from the last six years and finally have an answer. It needs this, the knowing, to put itself at rest.
With this knowledge, I start to make my way to Felicity’s room. The room that I haven’t been able to enter for six years, the room that has stayed empty waiting for the girl it belonged to to come home.
I sink down to my knees and cry.
I cry because she was gone this whole time. Because I spent six years searching for a missing girl and she was dead from the start. I cry because there’s nothing else to do. I cry because I now know I will never get to say goodbye to my daughter, never get to tell my little girl how she meant the world to us. And I cry because I lost them. Felicity and Zarina. I cry with enough pain to create a crevice as deep as the Grand Canyon and with enough tears to fill it.
The boy, Jack, pulled on the door handle and slipped inside the house of the girl he once loved. He hadn’t been thinking earlier. Why had he delivered the note? It wasn’t meant to actually be sent, just to relieve him of having to live with it. Now Mr. Samuels was probably going to call the police, and Jack couldn’t let that happen. He’d avoided being caught for six years. He wasn’t about to give it all up now.
Jack wandered around the house for a while, silent as he could be until he found Felicity’s bedroom. Alistar Samuels sat on the floor, clutching the paper with Jack’s confession on it and openly weeping. Without a second of hesitation, Jack ended all of Alistar’s suffering with the simple pull of a trigger.
Because if he couldn’t have Felicity, no one could.
Hannah Rouse is currently a freshman at the Appomattox Regional Governor's School for the Arts and Technology as a Literary Arts major. They are 15, and live in Chesterfield, Virginia. When not busy or doing homework, they can be found either reading or dancing. They have previously won runner-up for poetry in Georgia Southern University High School Writing Contest.
"Broken Mirror, 2006" by Dr John2005 is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view the terms, visit
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