Abby Waldo 2015

Poem:     "Glass Jars"

Poem:     "Republican City, 1935"

Story:      "Finding the Broken Girl"

Twitter Pieces

After "Diving into the Wreck"

Glass Jars


What if you could capture moments?

Watch them light the night,

hold them between your sweaty palms,

trap them in a glass jar with holes in the top.


You relive the minutes, let them light

the darkness around you.

Mesmerized by your past,

you miss the new memories flying by.


One by one,

they begin to fade away.

Gone with the stargazing summer nights

and the cold winter mornings of fresh snow.


Slowly, the lights blink out.

Your once full jar is now empty,

and you are left in the darkness of the past.

Maybe moments should not be captured.






Republican City, 1935


Murky brown water pushes broken objects to shore:

Cups, shoes, children’s toys.

A reminder of the lives that had been washed away.

On the swampy shore, a young boy’s face twists with grief

as he gazes upon his former town

sleeping beneath a blanket of water.

The sky had broken open, and the rain had come without end

taking a little piece of the town each day.

He knew that soon, there would be nothing left to take.

Finally, the dark days come to an end.

A sliver of sunlight escapes the prison of clouds.

This is not the end, the boy realizes, but a new beginning.

He vows to never forget the sleeping town

as he moves his life to higher ground.






Finding the Broken Girl


     I didn’t know my own sister’s name.


     I’d walked up to the front desk at this hospital, and told them I was Elizabeth Garden. I was here to see my sister. When they asked me what the patient’s name was, I started to shake. I didn’t know. What if her name was different now? I realized I had been standing, silent, for about a minute. “Excuse me,” the impatient worker said. “What is her name?”


     I let out a shaky breath. “Beatrice. Well, that used to be her name.”


    Sixteen years ago, I was playing in the front lawn with my three-year-old sister. It was the middle of summer, and the grass was soft and green. She was sitting on the ground, interested in the anthill and the tiny red soldiers marching out of it. She wore a red polka-dotted jumper that you could see a mile away, and it showed the butterfly-shaped birthmark on her back. I left her there for one second to go inside. When I came out, she was gone, and a blue car was driving away in the distance. I haven’t seen her since.


     Two police officers led me to the ocean blue waiting room, I was isolated from the judging stares and whispers of other patients’ families. They  told me it would be a while before I could see my sister, and I would have to wait with them. Their uniforms and gold badges reminded me of how they sniffed around our house, our property, and the rest of the city like bloodhounds, looking for her.


    I remember hiding in my room when the police arrived. I remember my mom crying, and my dad asking me if I saw the numbers on the license plate. I didn’t. I remember my mother not leaving the house for months. Sometimes, at night, I would crawl through my window and visit the river behind my house, where she and I used to skip stones on the water and play in the mud. Usually, I waited there, praying that one of those nights she would jump through the bushes on the other side and come back home with me.


     Around me, whispers were exchanged between complete strangers. “Is there some sort of celebrity here?” I overheard someone ask. They snooped around, asking anyone and everyone. Suddenly, someone gave them the right answer. “They found that girl,” I heard them say. “The girl that got kidnapped.”


     My parents always tried to hide that word from me, the k word. When they spoke, it was barely a hiss under their breath. When I was little, they spelled it out, but as I got older, they stopped saying it at all. It’s not like I didn’t hear it all the time; some people had no filter. “Hey, aren’t you the girl whose sister got kidnapped?” It amazed me how people just asked, no sugarcoating, no taking time to get to know me first. I wasn’t Elizabeth Garden, I was the girl with the missing sister. I became popular because they took pity on me; no one actually knew me for who I was.


     I shifted uncomfortably in my chair. I realized I didn’t even know who her kidnapper was, or if he’d gotten caught. I tapped a police officer on the shoulder. “Did they catch him? The man who kidnapped my sister?” The officer sighed and shook his head. “We have the address where she lived, though. The house is surrounded, but they’re not sure if he’s still there.” I nodded, and wondered who the kidnapper was. What if I had known him? What if, for my whole life, Beatrice had only been a few miles away? What did he do to her? What did he call her?


     Back then, we called her Beatrice. She had dark, curly hair and wide brown eyes. She was your average curious toddler, who got into tons of mischief. If something was fragile, she broke it; if it was tall, she climbed it; and if it wasn’t knocked over, she would. I loved having a little sister, and I was determined to be the perfect role model.


     The ticking clock counted down the agonizing seconds until I got to see her. I was her legal guardian now; I was all she had. In the same way, she was all I had too. We would have to stick together, but what if she didn’t want to? What if she didn’t like me? I wished my mom could have been here.


     After she got kidnapped, my mom got loads of dinners from her friends. We basically lived off lasagna and tuna-noodle casserole. All the while, my mom stopped functioning. She slept a lot, and didn’t even get up to answer the door for the mailman. My dad, however, was never home. He left before the sun came up and was back after the rest of the world had gone to sleep. It was only a matter of time before he didn’t come home at all. It started to get better when I was a senior in high school, about to graduate and move to a new city. I returned home one weekend to visit, and my mom and I had a fight. She blamed me for everything, for Beatrice getting kidnapped, for my dad leaving. I left, swearing I would never come back. She died two weeks later.


     The police officers turned to face me. “She’s ready to see you.” As I stood up, their judging eyes all looked toward me, and the weight of their stares was hard to bear. I had lived through a decade and a half of judging stares. Maybe now they would stop. I escaped the waiting room and followed the officers up the stairs.


     All of the sudden, I was overwhelmed with fear. I hadn’t seen her in sixteen years, and I wasn’t the same person I was when she was three and I was six; what if she hated me? I knew I was supposed to be excited. This is the what I’d dreamed of since the last summer day with her; instead of being filled with happiness, however, I was afraid.


     I was escorted by the police to her room, where doctors in white coats made a sort of wall around the door, all attacking me with their words of proposed diagnoses. I heard that she’d been in a car crash, driving too fast in the rain, probably trying to escape. After that, their words didn’t matter. They all faded into the background, because I saw the girl in the room, the girl I had never met before in my life.


     The girl that wasn’t my sister.


     I could see it in her face, her scared eyes that shifted around the room. This wasn’t the girl I had known, this was somebody entirely different.


     I stayed silent as we walked into the hospital room. Maybe it was her, and I just didn’t recognize her. I hoped that I was wrong, but as I got closer, I knew I wasn’t. Her wide brown eyes weren’t the same.


     I shook my head. “This isn’t her.”


     The doctors started buzzing with excuses. “It’s been sixteen years,” “Her facial features may be altered,” “She has a birthmark!” They lifted the frightened girl’s right shoulder to show me the mark on her back. I shook my head. “The birthmark was on her left shoulder.”


     Walking out of the hospital, the eyes from the waiting room watched my every move. Some eyes were filled with pity, others, confusion. I remained emotionless, a walking statue. It wasn’t the first time I’d been disappointed. I fished the keys out of my bag and sat in my car.


     Staring out the window, I willed myself not to cry. Before I knew it, my head was in my hands and I was wiping away tears. I missed her, every bone in my body wished that I would turn around and she would be there. Once upon a time, I had hoped she wasn’t broken, so that I didn’t have to fix her. But now, I realized that I would pick up every last piece of her and put her back together, if that’s what it took.


     “Is this Elizabeth Garden?”


     I had never seen this number before. “Yes, it is.” I could hear people yelling in the background.


     “We caught the kidnapper at his house.”


     I smiled. Maybe my sister wasn’t found, but this girl was. I chose to be happy for her, instead of bitter for not being the person I hoped she was. “That’s great. I’m glad she gets to move on, knowing he can’t hurt her anymore-”


     “There’s one other thing. There was another girl there with her.”


     Was she saying what I thought she was saying? I looked back at the hospital, and reached for the door handle on my car. “Okay?”


     “Elizabeth, it’s her. We found your sister.”