A brief explanation: In the summer of 2013, I attended a worldview and apologetics “camp” for two weeks called Summit in the tiny town of Dayton, Tennessee. I went with two other students from my school, Jillian Unruh and Mitchell Pivovar, and we three became pretty close. We have our inside jokes and special nicknames, but the best of all, we’ve become such great friends through growing spiritually together. Anyway, a few weeks ago, one night I had a bit of writer’s block (which I personally don’t think exists, but use it for lack of a better term) and I googled writing prompts to get me started. (Yeah, I know, lame.) But I digress, one of the prompts said: “Write a story with this beginning sentence- Jill disappeared on Wednesday.”
And thus, the story was born…
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. (I’ve always wanted an excuse to use that phrase!)
Jill Disappeared on Wednesday…
…the third day of Summit. I was supposed to meet her in front of the building we were both staying in and together we would walk to meet Mitch at breakfast. But she didn’t show up at our usual meeting time, 7:15 AM.
At first, it wasn’t disconcerting. Jill was usually late because Jill was definitely not a morning person. I mean, I thought I was bad, but Jill proved otherwise when she slept through our four-hour free-periods we get daily during the first two days we were here. But today, the cafeteria was serving chocolate ice cream for breakfast. A weird choice, I know, but apparently, the Summit leaders wanted to congratulate everyone for making it three days of seminars and intense pondering of life’s ultimate questions without our brains exploding.
Last night, before Jill, Mitch, and I went to our separate rooms with our strange roommates, Jill had told us just how excited she was for breakfast tomorrow and how she was going to beat me to our meeting spot. She even jokingly swore to leave me if I wasn’t there on time.
Perhaps she had left without me, was my first thought. I was probably a few minutes off schedule myself, but even I didn’t take her threat seriously last night, and I’m ridiculously gullible.
I waited ten more minutes before I finally called…
I didn’t leave a message; I called again.
Again, no answer.
This time I left a strongly worded message:
“Jillian Sofia Unruh! Where the heck are you? I have been waiting for almost twenty minutes! The ice cream is gonna melt, hurry up!”
Then I closed with a joke that turned out to bite me in the butt later on.
“Your only excuse for tardiness is if Luminary has taken you captive! Good day, Ma’am!”
I laughed at my own joke, because I personally think I am hilarious, and hung up.
Another brief explanation: Luminary is a small society cut off from the world that is actually very dangerous. All the Summit kids know about it and tend to joke about Luminary, even though we probably shouldn’t. To put it simply: Luminary is not for outsiders.
I decided to call Mitchell; maybe Jill was already there.
“Hey, Mitchell. Is Jill with you?”
“No. But I was hungry so I got in line,” he confessed.
“Well, I can’t get ahold of her–”
“–do you want me to–?” he blurted out.
“–can you get us food–?” I cut in.
“And we’ll meet you when I find her?”
“Okay, call me if she shows up.”
” ‘kay, see ya.”
“Bye,” he said, and hung up.
I walked to the elevator and pressed the down arrow. I heard a ding! and two laughing girls stepped out and stumbled toward the door, giggling about “how cute he was,” whoever “he” was. I was quick to assume “he” was Mitchell as I stepped on the elevator and pressed the Floor Four button. It was funny to watch all the girls drool over him while he was both completely oblivious and all too aware of the attention. Quite entertaining, actually; the things girls will do for attention from that guy.
The elevator opened again, and I stepped out, turning left down the hall. I couldn’t remember Jill’s room number but I remembered the general area of the door. I was pretty sure it was the second to the last door at the end of the hall on the left side. When I reached it, I knocked.
I listened. No sound.
“Jillian?” I said as I knocked again.
I turned the knob. The door was unlocked. I swung in the door to find an empty, cluttered, somewhat messy room. Neither Jill nor her roommate were anywhere to be seen. I closed the door behind me as I walked back to the elevator.
Maybe she had left without me.
I made my way to the cafeteria, which I found almost empty. Mitch was sitting by himself at a round table in the corner where we three usually sat together. There were three bowls in front of him, one empty, the other two filled with chocolate soup.
See, I said to Jill wherever she was, I told you it would melt!
Mitchell looked nervously out the window. I sat down across from him.
“Did you find her?” he asked.
“No.” I looked at the bowls. “She wasn’t in her room and she’s not picking up her phone.”
“Well, the seminar starts in three minutes, I think we’d better go.” He stood and gathered the bowls, headed for the trash can.
“Okay.” I stood and walked with him, dialing Jill’s number one more time. “You didn’t see her at all in here?”
Again, no answer.
I left another message, serious this time: “Jill, we are getting worried, please call back.”
“Should we tell someone?” Mitchell asked.
“Nah, she might already be in there. Let’s wait.”
Together we raced to the chapel where the seminars are held, two buildings away. Sadly, though, we were much later than we thought. And, of course, at Summit there are ridiculous consequences for being late…
…to be continued…