A new VANISHING GIRLS short story tells the story of the town’s first disappearance.
If you’ve been following the news about Lauren Oliver’s VANISHING GIRLS, you already know that the YA thriller will talk about the broken relationship haunting sisters Nick and Dara and how it affects things when one of them suddenly disappears.
But Dara’s disappearance wasn’t the only one in their small town.
Lauren Oliver’s new VANISHING GIRLS short story tells the tale of the town’s reaction to the disappearance of another young girl, Madeline Snow:
We were all there for different reasons—some of us by choice, some of us because we’d been dragged by parents or well-meaning pastors or as punishment for staying out too late the weekend before, many of us for no greater reason than curiosity, though we would never have admitted it. What kind of monster is curious about the sudden disappearance of an eleven-year-old girl, a girl in all probability already lying dead somewhere, cut into pieces or buried in a shallow grave?
Lots of us, that’s who. But again, we would never admit it. Like we would never admit the other thing, the suspicion that all of this, the police and the megaphones and the Save Madeline Snow campaign, is probably useless, that Madeline is already dead.
Most of us are local but that doesn’t mean we know or particularly like each other. Case in point: Warren Grover, known primarily for his annual campaign of Halloween terror, is one of the first to arrive at Big Scoop Ice Cream & Candy, and even now stands licking a sugar cone filled with mint Oreo ice cream and blinking happily in the sun, as if we’re all here for a picnic. Diana Davies and her daughter Lydia, both identically blond and wound-up looking, like dolls animated into life, keep as far away from him as possible—Diana hasn’t forgiven him for egging their house last Halloween, Lydia for the fact that at the spring homecoming dance the year before he put a hand not on her ass but on the ass of her best friend, Monroe, who doesn’t even have a good ass. And Monroe is there, too—because she’s curious, and also because as a junior she’s getting a little desperate for something she’ll be able to use for a college essay topic—trying not to stare at Warren, wondering whether he’ll get a girlfriend when he goes off to college, thinking about how they’d met in a basement stairwell during the homecoming dance, how he’d reached into her dress to touch her breasts; how they’d panted into each other’s mouths like dogs and she’d almost, almost let him slip two fingers inside her underwear. How beautiful she’d felt, and how empty afterward, like an air-filled balloon, like she was floating.
At first when we arrive we are excited and doing our best not to show it. Instead we frown and shake our heads, exchange meaningful glances with strangers, as if we’re all in church and about to shake hands and say and peace be with you. Lydia turns away and rubs her eyes to make them water. Monroe, catching herself smiling flirtatiously at Warren as he licks the last of his ice cream cone, quickly frowns. She tries to imagine serious things. School tests. Church sermons. Damp basements. But all she can picture is Warren fumbling a hand beneath her dress… Should she have said yes? Would he have kept going? Would she? And Lydia, next to her, having succeeded in drawing out a few tears, cranes onto her tiptoes to see over the crowd and, finding that the news crews haven’t started filming yet, thinks what a waste.
Who knows what the Snows are thinking? It’s unimaginable. Even standing so close to them, it’s unimaginable. Like standing on the lip of a black hole, just a short step away from an unfathomably deep drop.
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It’s hard to tell whose perspective this is coming from, but we may find out on February 9th when Epic Reads posts the second half of the short!