I was only seven when the murders began. My memories of that time are faded, and twisted by time. I remember the way my father locked the doors. The windows. Everything.
It was weird because we never used to lock them. We used to leave them open, even at night. The breeze dancing through the curtains. Brushing over where I slept. I used to fall asleep to the sound of the leaves.
But not that summer.
It started with the girl down the street. She disappeared on her way to the park. Her name was Alicia. She was a year older than me. We used to stand at the bus stop together, with my best friend Eva. She was nice, shy, but nice. She would always smile and give us a small wave.
The neighborhood reacted quickly. A search party went out. Joined soon by the police. My father was among the officers that eventually found her. Her small body was broken and bloodied. I heard my father cry as he told my mother. It was the first time I ever heard him cry.
The next child was a boy. New to the area. Younger than I was. My mother was talking to a friend on the phone. Telling them how the boy was taken from his backyard and later found in the same woods as Alicia.
After the boy, Eva was found. She had been taken from her room. In the middle of the day. Taken through the window.
After Eva, was when we started locking everything up. I wasn’t allowed to go outside, or even to be alone
My mother stayed home. I had to sit in the home office and watch television as she worked from her laptop. The hours I spent watching reruns of cartoons I had seen a million times before. I was so bored. So bored I was even looking forward to school to start back up. I didn’t understand my parents’ fear. My parents were terrified that I would be next.
I was so mad at them back then. I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation. Not completely.
Now I am grateful for their caution.
I’m sure if they hadn’t, I would have eventually been caught.