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PART THIRTY-ONE

“Hello?” Karla Kisor’s voice declared.

Striding through Interlachen’s halls on her way back from the third-grade wing to Suzann and the main office, phone tucked under her right ear, purse and satchel swinging from her left shoulder, Stacie responded, “Misses Kisor? It’s Stacie Shannon, Skylar’s teacher? I’m so sorry I missed your calls. Can you talk?”

“Well, a course I can talk-” Karla responded confusedly. “Oh! I get it!” she chuckled. “Yeah, yeah. I can talk. Why? Is there a problem with Skylar?” she asked, voice rising in concern.

“Well, not so much a problem as well, a misunderstanding?”

“A misunderstanding? What’s she done?”

Stacie laid her bags on Suzann’s desk, mouthed the words, Karla Kisor, and held up her left index finger. “No, really, Mrs. Kisor. Skylar hasn’t done a thing wrong. It’s just that at recess today there was a man, he stayed strictly outside the schoolyard mind you, but, well, when Skylar came in she was a bit upset. The man hadn’t touched her, hadn’t even spoken to her! But, you see, she said that the man looked a lot like your deceased husband, Caleb? In fact, to Skylar, he looked so much like Caleb Morse that she was convinced that it was Caleb, even though, as she said to me, he passed while she was in kindergarten? I know it’s silly and all, but she was so upset that I promised her I’d do some follow up, and, well, that’s why I’m calling you.”

If not for the background noise from Karla’s locale Stacie would have assumed that their call had been cut off. After a ten-second, speechless interval Stacie asked, “Mrs. Kisor? Karla? Are you there?”

“Where is she?” Karla asked in a dry mouthed whisper.

“Skylar? She went home with Sara Kohnen and her mother. As per your note?”

“Sara Kohnen? Yeah, of course she did. That’s why I’m still here shopping instead of sitting on the bus. Uh, did you, that is, did you see her go with Sara?”

“I personally dropped her and Sara off at the bike rack. I wanted to chat with Mrs. Kohnen, just to, well, let her know that Skylar was a bit, uh, perplexed? By seeing the man who reminded her so much of her father? So, I walked Sara and Skylar both out and had a brief chat with Mrs. Kohnen.”

“You left her with Sara’s mom? I mean, you saw her get in the, the, what’s Sara’s last name? Kohnen! The Kohnen’s car?”

“Well, no, Mrs. Kisor. I didn’t see her get in their car, but I absolutely left Skylar with Sara and Marti Kohnen; that’s what you wanted, correct?”

“Yes?” Karla responded uncertainly. “I mean, yes,” she continued, her voice pinched with distress. “I did. You done right. Oh, Lord,” she continued, seemingly to herself, “where is that Marti Kohnen’s phone number?”

“Mrs. Kisor? Are you alright?”

“This is just, what word did you use? ‘Perplexed?’ This is just uhm, perplexing.” Karla continued, seemingly to herself, “Oh, Lord, Lord, Lordy. I gotta get home. When’s the next bus?”

“Mrs. Kisor? Are you okay? Where are you?”

“I’m at Walmart. I just got off a work and I was shopping for Skylar’s birthday present. I gotta catch the bus. What time is it? Oh, Lord. Bus won’t be here for forty minutes. I gotta go.”

“Wait. Wait, wait, wait, wait, Mrs. Kisor,” Stacie interjected. “You’re at the Walmart right there by Little Road? That’s just around the corner from where I live. Do you need a ride to the Kohnen’s?”

“The Kohnen’s? I don’t even know where they live. I was just fixing to head home. And My name’s Miss Kisor, I stopped being a Misses when my husband Caleb, well, with Caleb. And you can call me Karla. Every time you call me Mrs. Kisor I think my mama’s in the room.”

“Okay, Karla. And you can call me Stacie. Listen, hold tight. I’ll be there in five minutes, okay? Where will you be?”

“Oh, Stacie, youn’t have to do that.”

“It’s not a problem. I want to. Meet you right in front of the entry?”

“Oh. Oh, okay. Sure. Why, bless you, Stacie. I’ll see you in five.”

“Okay, Karla. Hold tight.”