Marti was frantic.
She had cycled around the Publix shopping center, circling in ever increasing anguish as she searched for Sara and Skylar, scanning every bike rack and peeking into every corner as she hunted for the girls or their bikes. “Surely, they wouldn’t go to the park?” she said to herself, debating whether to go west on Cold Springs and cycle on busy Trinity Boulevard to the small, semi-private park behind the Pasco County Sheriff’s office, or to retrace her steps southward on Community Drive and go east on Interlachen.
Marti rode to the western most corner of the lot, turned left at Moe’s and stopped in paralyzing indecision as she vacillated between calling nine-one-one, riding to the park and stopping by the sheriff’s, returning home and getting the Lexus or returning to Interlachen Drive and cycling beyond the school.
“Now, what the hell did Barb say, exactly? That she saw the girls at school or beyond it? Crap!” she said vehemently but not loudly. “Guess I’ll go down to Gunn Highway. Oh! If they went to Skylar’s there’ll be hell to pay.”
“Skylar’s,” she repeated, nodding her head and grabbing her phone from her bag. “Maybe they’re at Skylar’s. What the hell is Karla’s number?” she ranted, swiping her phone and hitting the call button for the 256-area code number. The phone rang to voice mail and Marti shoved her phone back in her bag. “Jesus,” she hissed, “not only can you not pick up, but you can’t even change the damn stock message?” she demanded in frustration, adding a loud and heart felt, “Screw you!” completely unconcerned if anyone might overhear her.
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” she yelled rolling forward and pedaling frantically. “Where the hell are you two?” she screamed before adding softly, “Please let them be safe.”
Marti flew through three stop signs on her way to Interlachen Drive and cutoff a car as she made the hard left toward school. Her eyes scanned left as she passed Saint Peter’s Church and then right as she traveled along the length of Interlachen Elementary. Finding no sign of Sara or Skylar, she stood on the bikes pedals and raced eastward, the sun setting behind her as she went. She’d traveled just short of a mile when the road curved gently to her right and in the distance, approaching the Pasco County school bus depot, she spotted what appeared to be cyclists coming toward her in the descending twilight.
“Please, God. Let that be them! Please, Lord, let them be safe.” she whispered plaintively.
As she continued, it became clear that it was two figures riding bikes on the sidewalk and, after fifteen more seconds, she made positive identification. “Oh, God! Thank you, Jesus, thank you!” she said reverently before screaming, “What in the world is wrong with you two!” at the top of her lungs.