Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?
A Friends of the Library Mystery, part X
Running after the child was liberating. The researcher felt free of the restraints and conventions of her life. She was soon out of breath though, and slowed to a walk. She could hear the laughter of children, but no longer see them. Ahead on the right was a copse of trees, so she angled her path toward them. As she neared the area, an older boy stepped out. He was dressed in the kind of clothes she’d seen on the male figure in the photos.
The boy stood in a defiant stance with his legs in a “v” and his arms angled on his hips. “What are you doing here?” he demanded. The researcher thought a moment and replied, honestly, “I don’t really know. I was trying to find out the answers to a mystery, and it brought me here.”
He squinted in the bright sun. “Where did you come from?” he asked.
Again the researcher hesitated, “I’m . . . I’m not sure. I was at the library and then . . . I wasn’t.” She looked around her, as if searching for something. “I think I had a bag, and a computer, and I certainly wasn’t wearing these clothes . . . “ her voice trailed off as the boy’s eyes widened with incredulity.
“You must be a ghost then, and we don’t play games with ghosts!” he exclaimed.
“No, I’m real! I remember – I was looking for a girl named Emajean. Do you know her?” she asked quickly.
The boy, who had been about to melt back into the trees, paused. “Maybe. Maybe she was the little girl you were chasing when you came here. But why do you want to find her?” he asked.
The researcher shook her head, frustrated. “I’m not sure I remember why. I just remember that I need to find her. Can you help me?”
He gazed at her and then seemed to decide something. “No,” he said with finalilty. “You can’t see her,” and he began to fade into the copse.
“No, wait!” she cried, "Are you Walter?", but it was too late. He was gone and the noises of all the children were gone as well.
She looked around her, hoping to see any kind of structure that would be evidence of people. In the far distance she saw a shape that looked like a barn. The researcher squared her shoulders and began trudging towards it. Suddenly her adventure playing Tag wasn’t much fun anymore.