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Repayment, a Short Story
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During fire season, you rarely survive to learn from life's lessons.
Short Story by Tamara Wilhite
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Gage,
There seems to have been some confusion on the part of the private investigator who spoke with us regarding your son. Yes, my husband and I came to know Jake, as did many in our small town. The P.I. refused to take notes after a while, so I will recount events from our perspective.
My husband does not make a habit of picking up hitchhikers, but we made an exception. No one likes the idea of their child lost and alone, and a ten year old by a lonely highway is something no one should let endure. This was on the 15th of last month. That night, a violent storm rolled in. There was flash flooding, strong winds, and a roaring downpour.
My husband’s car got stranded in a flash flood. Jake swam out to him despite the flood and helped pull him to safety. You should be proud. Jake was with me that night when I went into premature labor; he walked four miles to get help since the phone and power were out, and we’re too far out for cell phones to work. He got help in time to save our Jake.
No one is sure the last time he was seen. He disappeared sometime before morning. Maybe he took up the offer to be taken to a shelter. Maybe social services took him somewhere. However, it is impossible that the body found in that multi-car crash on the 2nd of last month was Jake’s.
If you see him, tell him how much everything he did was appreciated. Because of the help he got for me that night, my son survived though he arrived two months early. We’ve named him Jake in his memory. That’s why your private investigator was confused; we see Jake every day. But he’s ours, not yours. I hope you find your son, wherever he is now.
However, we'll do our best to raise our Jake as you raised your son. It's the best repayment of the debt I owe your son.