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My inspiration for this chapter came from my years living on my boat, a converted liveaboard that I moored in Deep Cove, B.C. For the four and a half years I called the boat my home, I saw more natural beauty in the magic of nature than I ever saw while living on land. I really wanted to let readers see what I had. I found it very comforting to go back into my memories and create the setting to this chapter.
The sound was intentional, unmistakable. I am not alone. I slowly rise from the narrow cot and tiptoe through the small cabin, overwhelmed with the feeling of impending doom. With each doorway I pass, my breathing stops and my heart pounds as I anticipate someone lunging from the darkness. A sliver of light from the crescent moon casts a dusty blue glow through the grimy windows and illuminates the front door—freedom. Carefully, I glide forward. I’m almost there. Heart pounding and legs weak, I reach out and touch the small round doorknob. I’ve made it. Then, the floor creaks from behind and a wave of terror rushes over me. My back tightens and I freeze, as though a cold hand has clutched the back of my neck. Terrified, I turn to face my fate.
* * *
Semi-conscious, I open my eyes and take a deep breath. The air is thick with ozone. I roll onto my side and look out the window. Angry clouds churn above the small cove. Electricity fills the pilothouse and the hair on my arm stands on end. Instinctively, I grab my phone from the pillow and check for any texts. Nothing from Kara. I get out of bed, struggling to keep my balance as the boat rocks. The wind whipping across the bay generates swells that slap hard against the hull as I walk out onto the stern to check the ropes and set down extra buoys between the dock and the boat. Hard sprays of sea water sting my face as gusts of wind push against me. 4 Back inside, I wipe my wet face on my sleeve and sit at the settee to catch my breath. I glance at the clock and see that it’s 4 AM. Considering the storm that’s brewing, there’s no way I’m going to get back to sleep.
Since I have to be up at 5:30 for work, I decide to gather my things and drive to the 24-hour café in the village, where I’ll hang out until my shift starts. I work as an emergency dispatcher for the local police station. After thirty-seven calls and a half-pot of coffee, all before lunch, I’m running on pure adrenaline and caffeine. I can’t wait for the day to be over when I can climb onto my boat and into my bed. About an hour before my shift ends, a call comes in from a woman, requesting to speak with an officer. She sounds panicked. I ask her what the nature of her complaint is. The woman tells me her teenage daughter, Molly, has been missing for four days. She says she wasn’t worried until she went into Molly’s laptop and found a conversation between her and an older man.
I was inspired to write about Molly after learning about the overwhelming number of girls that are lured away from the safety of their homes by online predators.
I quickly put her call through to an available officer. A nauseous feeling forms in the pit of my stomach. I’ve only been working at the police station for a year and although I never deal with the people face-to-face, some of the calls stay with me long after my shift ends. After I’ve signed out, I’m making my way to my locker when I hear my boss calling my name.