It was a very dull morning and an annoying one, I might add to the Byrants in comparison to the surrounding families here in Saskatchewan. The sky was blue and the clouds are white, feathery and high. The trees are flush with their green leaves. The sun was yellow as the singing canary. It looks like a butter ball that everyone's fond of. Birds are chirping and chirruping from their handsome cages. Most especially to our nature-loving neighbor, Mrs. Widow who probably owned at least seven birds of different species. As suggested by her name, she is a widow or as whispered by the busybodies that she is an old maid for they never seen her husband. She rarely goes out of her house which is a great pleasure to everybody especially to her nosy neighbor.

If and only Mrs. Widow can be forced to live somewhere else her neighbor might have already done it. But due to the fact that her lovely robins and brightly colored canaries sang lovely songs that they remain silent. Not to mention that Mrs. Widow was able to magically managed the bird droppings to prevent any foul smell to pervade throughout the area. Everybody enjoyed the birds' songs in the morning as a reason that this relieved them from stress of the city. Now if everyone loved it somebody has to hate it. And her neighbor's daughter has had enough of the shrill songs of those birds that sometimes made her turn up the amplifier to full volume, completely stressing those poor birds. Who would've done it?

No one but me. No one but Peony.

I was so full of the noise that I'd rather listen to my iPod and I guess I'd probably turn out the amps a bit too loud. Mom and Dad would often scold me for doing this. You see, unlike me, they and the rest of the people in our street completely adore those little birds' songs. And as a punishment for my little blemish, Mom stashed away all my gadgets except for my phone which sadly doesn't contain a lot of songs. The birds were just dragged in to my mood. The reason behind my gloomy mood is me walking into the kitchen to do my chores.

Life would have been easier and simpler if I wasn't doing the job. Every morning I have to wake up to fix my bag, make my breakfast and most especially to clean my notes on the table that has been left overnight. Usually I would wake up where everything is ready. All I have to do was get dressed, eat the breakfast on the table and go to school. I don't have to cook eggs and bacon or to make my snack or even worse, wash the plates after my breakfast. Of course someone has to do it all. Someone named Phlox. But now, I had to do it on my own. Mom refused to wash my plates after she clearly stated that it is high time I become responsible. It wasn't that I'm not responsible before. I truly was, well in my own way. But what got my blood boiling was because this stupid girl has left us with no note or anything to tell where she went. And it is almost three months now. I am not concerned, trust me.

I'm almost close to being late in school and I'm still here at home cramming to make my snack. My class starts seven forty and I still haven't left for school. Still in the kitchen struggling to make sandwich after Mom refused to help since she is washing the dishes. I can't seek out help from Dad since he has left a few minutes ago.

"Mom," I whined losing my temper for the third time when I can't place the ham on the curling lettuce. "Why can't I just throw an apple or some chips on my bag?"

"Because dear," she spun, wiped her soapy hands on her apron and said in a singsong voice. "Chips aren't really healthy. They're junk foods and they'll harm your kidneys. I will not allow you to snack on chips. You've been practically living on chips the whole summer." She explained to me like I didn't know already. Every time I asked her this question I get the very the same answer. Don't know why I even bother.

"What about an apple?" I suggested. Anything that doesn't require me to wrap.

"Oh come on, Peony last week your snack was an apple for five days since you also don't want to make sandwich. Remember how you complained when your classmates tease you," Mom reminded me.

Yeah, it's not easy to forget. "How about a banana?"

"Peony, the other week you fed on bananas too. Remember how your classmates scratch their head and make monkey noises in front of you"

"Yeah," My voice trailed off. I don't think I'll forget that memory anytime soon.

She smiled to me and then went back to the dishes. I can't understand why she would wash them by hand when we had a perfectly working dishwasher. Fuming and glaring at the piece of lettuce, I carefully placed the bread on the top of it. It wobbled a little but I was quick enough to put it back to its place. Now the big problem is how am I going to wrap it up? Because it looks like one of those Toh Temp Poles and I'm afraid that if I wrapped maybe the ham will slide down. In fact, the ham is starting to slide off the lettuce and the mayo is dripping on the plate.

"Mom, how can I wrap this?" I yelled even if she's like an arm away from me.

"Just wrap it around, honey," she said without looking at my sandwich.

Mom, I really need you to turn around and see my sandwich, I wanted to add but I didn't.

So I did wrap it up but it won't stick. The sandwich wrapper kept flapping open. I don't know how Mom did it in where it is neatly fold and it is not flapping every second. Truthfully, I never watched how she or Phlox does it. When they handed to me the sandwich, it is already perfect. And because I hate to ask Mom again and receive the same answer I decided to take matters on my own hand. I taped it up with adhesive. I smiled and admired my work even if it is lopsided. When Mom turned and saw my sandwich, she covered her laugh with a cough.

"Why does she have to leave anyway?" I dropped on the chair and weighed my chin my palm.

"Who, Peony dear?"

"She, of course. Phlox," I sighed.

"Oh yes," Mom's face changed and so does her voice too. "I wonder too."

Beats me too. Ever since Phlox was dragged in the topic, Mom wasn't her usual self. She used to be mean to her but I can't understand why she's worried about her now. And it is not only Mom but Dad too. With Dad, I don't have to worry about. He is utterly nice to her that it's no worried that he's worried. I think Mom feels responsible for the loss of her. But it isn't her fault. She escaped, fled not loss. But then again, it would also be pretty embarrassing if you see the headline on the paper; Found: Phlox Bushby, Guardian: Gaillard Byrant, Contact the Saskatchewan police. Either way, if Mom and Dad are getting anxious at her, I am free to loathe her as much as I want.

"Oh Mom," I said, trying to bring her back. "It is better this way. It is better than she's gone."

She looked at me, wondering if what I meant.

"You and I don't have to scold or get mad at her anymore. She won't be able to do silly things and no one to embarrass us again." I proved my point but she rolled her eyes and crossed her arms.

"Although you have to work hard and I have to clean my mess, my room and everything," I gloomily sighed.

She was silent and went dusting the table. I snorted at her expression. I put my sandwich on my bag and cleaned my mess. I placed the plate, the knife on the sink and the mayonnaise on the fridge.

"Wash it," Mom said suddenly.

"What!" I grumbled. "But I'm late,"

"Wash it," she repeated.

"Fine. Oh that foolish girl is gone but her jinx still leaves a trace here," I began washing the plate with a sponge.

"Peony," Mom said gravely. "I didn't raise you to insult people. I taught you values and manners, use it."

"But it isn't an insult, it is the truth," I denied. Sooner or later Mom won't be able to hold her patience.

"Peony we both know Phlox is a stubborn girl. And yet, she continues to help us in the household chores. And now that she's gone, you still loathe her. Haven't you got a little pity and mercy left in your heart?" she reprimanded me.

"Why do you bother anyway?"

"I have already told you. Weren't you listening? Now go, you'll be late," Mom fumed, looking at the handsome grandfather's clock where Phlox used to hide when we play hide-and-annoy.

I grudgingly carried my pink tote bag and went out from the door. I was murmuring under my breath then went back only to realize one thing.

"Mom, how am I going to school? The school bus has already left," I asked her, panting for I already walk about half a mile.

She looked at me by her shoulder. "Walk, or get a ride, a bus"

Walk? I'd rather take the bus than to walk. I rode a bus and exactly arrived ten minutes before classes' starts. Meaning I have a chance to chat with my friends.

I browsed around the school looking for my friends. I found them near the stairs in the facade of the building. Near the entrance is a blonde girl with freckles on her shoulders and her hair was combed neatly. She is fond of using hand gestures every time she spoke. She also towers of about 5'9 and she always fold her very thin lips. She is Amanda Mantle. Next to her is a brunette with sparkling braces. She always smile making people think that she is showing off her Swarovski-studded braces. Her nose used to look different but since she had a nose job so it looks perfect. And her name is Frieda Cole. Beside her is another blonde who likes to screech as much as possible. And every time a guy passes by, she would bat her short eyelashes on them. She is Lucy Luck.

"Hey, girls," I greeted them as I sat beside Amanda.

"Hey, Peony. Why are you late?" Frieda asked.

"I am not late," I corrected them. "I just have some chores to do."

"Chores?" Lucy shrieked. "Has your maid left you?"

"Apparently, yes. Insolent," I scoffed. The both laughed at me.

"What is her name again?" Amanda wiped her eyes.

"Phlox Higgins, black hair, dull eyes, nothing that is interesting at all" I replied, bittersweet. After all, most people seemed to like her.

"Too bad, Phlox is gone," Lucy sneered at me.

"Of course, it is," I mockingly confessed.

Then the bell rang and the students rushed inside the building. The four of us remained where we are. We don't want to push among the crowds. When everyone has entered that's when we went inside. Amanda, Frieda and Lucy went ahead first.

"Coming?" Amanda offered me a hand.


We were halfway when suddenly a man in a black robe that is as dark like midnight grabbed me by the waist. It was so tight and so strong, and it surprised me.

"Found you at last," he whispered to me.

I don't understand as to what he meant. I have no time to think about it. There is only one word in my mind and that is what I'm going to say.

"Help! Help! Help! Help!" I repeated shrilly over and over again. I was trying to get off of his grasp but he is much too strong. If he won't let me go, I'll scream.

"Help! Help! Amanda, Frieda, Lucy," I yelled.

I know my voice isn't too loud. It seems that from the moment I panicked, my throat has dried up. I tried all sorts of things. I kicked, push him away from me, grabbed his hood but it disappoint me. He too was finding it hard to control me. He has to hold my hands, my elbows to stop me from hitting him and mouth to keep me from shouting.

While I was escaping, I was thinking on why didn't they hear me? They would know if I'm not with them. Where are they? Why is it taking them so slow? Hmph, if they didn't show up, I'll do it myself. I kicked him below the knees. Men can't be able to resist the pain. So I kicked him and he did angled a little bit but he soon managed to stand up.

"What now? What am I going to do?"

Then three girls appeared in the door. The one that I longed to see and really need.

"Peony, what is taking you so long?" Lucy's voice can be heard.

"Peony, we'll be late," Amanda's voice came next.

They looked outside and glanced left. They saw me struggling, struggling to get away. They were both scared but they still run towards me. And as they did, it feels like everything is in slow motion.

"No, call the police. Call someone," I told them.

What good will they bring if they help me? Better seek for others help. I know they hate to disagree but they just do what they are told.

I could see Lucy calling the police in her phone hastily. Amanda went inside and yelled for help inside the school. I'm sure everybody could hear it for it is unusually quiet on this time. Frieda was pulling the guard to my place. It seems to me that they are arguing to each other, arguing if Frieda was telling the truth.

While my friends are seeking help, this man who is wearing tattered robes was pulling me away. But I managed to hold on one of the iron post and get a good grip. Yet soon my fingers are starting to damped and I slipped. I know any minute; he'll be able to pull me away.

I was getting frantic. Afraid that maybe this man planned to kill me or take me as a hostage. In addition to it, my heart was beating loudly.

He pulled me hard and as my fingers slid, I know I have to shout again.

"Help! Somebody, anybody, everybody help me. Help me! Help me!"

And one of the late students saw me. He tried to help but was knocked down with a waved of this man's hand.

I gasped. This man is more dangerous than I thought. What should I do? I had no time to think. The only sound I could hear was my friend's voice, this man's grunts and my heart. Thud. Should I kick his groin? Thud. Oh my, my heart is beating very loudly and fast. Thud. Where are they? Thud. Where are my friends? Thud. They still haven't found help? Thud. Not any? Thud.

Then this man forcefully grabbed me and run fast that the wind feels like they are piercing my cold sweaty face. Where is he taking me?

He stopped and I noticed that we are in the athlete's locker room. It is dark; he didn't put on the switch. He dragged and dragged me. I'm sure he knows where he is going; but still I'm hoping that he would bumped into one of those lockers.

But my wish was in vain. It seems that he indeed knew this place. He let me sit into one of the benches yet still holding my shoulder, just in case I would run away. Well, how could I? It's too dark and hello I have never been here before.

He shook me by the shoulder and said, "I am not going to hurt you,"

"How can I be sure of that?" My voice trembled as I asked him.

"Because I promise. I gave you my word," he said rather hoarsely.

"They can be broken.

"Not me. A gentleman never breaks his promise, I assure you," he fatherly tapped my shoulder.

"How can I trust you? I don't even know you?" My whole body is now shaking and I can't stop it.

"I'll tell you soon. It's been fifteen years, I guess" he muttered, flipping his robes as he walk.

What is he talking about? I don't even know why he's doing this? I guess, I'll have to stick with him. Either way, if I escaped I wouldn't be able to get out in one piece. Maybe a little alibi would do.

"My family is not rich. We are poor. They won't be able to pay the ransom money. But if I were you I'd tried to hostage one of the Montris family. They are really rich."

"Why would I do that?"

"Then why do you hostage me?" I spluttered. Can't he give me a straight answer?

"I am not. I am just taking what belongs to me," he dreary blurred.

"But I don't belong to you," I persisted.

"Doesn't matter."

"Of course it matter," I argued.

"Silence," he solemnly whispered.

I scowled and make a mumbling noise.

"Silence," he repeated.

It is dark that I can't see what he is doing. I couldn't even see a trace of him or his movements. Then I heard he's fingers snapped and from where I'm standing a bright splash of bright brown lines aim at me. I don't know where but I feel the most relaxing feeling like I'm floating, like I'm flying, drifting in the breeze and landing in a very soft and puffy bed. My feet are starting to numb and it crawled into my hands. Then slowly something hum into my very veins and when it reaches my head everything went to blank. It was like a light bulb whose switch was turn off of a sudden.

And the last thing that I think was the same when I was struggling. A word where everybody knew and would use it in danger. The word, Help.