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Emma and the Minotaur


6 Strike Three
It was Tuesday morning and the sky was angry.
Emma woke up in a gray mood. She could tell immediately upon waking that it was a cloudy day.
With heavy feet, she got out of bed and prepared for the day ahead.
Everything started to go wrong when Jake wasn’t on his bus. Emma waited for him by the school’s
main entrance. Jake’s bus came and all the children inside filed out. There was no sign of the boy.
Emma stood there for a few moments, not sure about what, if anything, she should do. She
imagined that Jake wouldn’t just disappear again without letting her know. There was probably a
reasonable explanation why he wasn’t there but, in the back of Emma’s mind, something of a small
panic began to grow. It was the fear that whatever had happened to Mr Milligan had now happened to
Jake.
When she finally went to her classroom, Miss Robins saw her walk in and took a pointed glance at
her watch. Emma looked down at the floor and made her way to her desk.
The day’s math lesson was about reflections, translations, and rotations of different shapes. Emma
knew all about it already but she tried her best to pay close attention and not to think about the empty
chair near the door.
When it was time for recess, Emma stopped by the teacher’s desk to ask about Jake. If there was a
reason for his absence then his mother might have called the school. Miss Robins told her that she
hadn’t heard anything about the boy.
Emma went outside. The sky appeared as though it had every intention of pouring buckets of rain
down on the school. She sat on her usual spot on the swing and wrapped one arm around its steel chain
and leaned against it, hugging herself against the wind. She'd forgotten to bring a jacket.
Emma’s feet didn’t reach the ground so she swung them in the air in little circles as she glanced
around at the drab morning. The chill wind and the darkening sky seemed to have absorbed the joy out
of the playground. To Emma, it appeared as though everyone was moving more slowly than usual and
without aim, like wandering ghosts lost in a graveyard. She was filled wit h an impulse to leave and race
home or to the university to find her father.
She was in the same sullen mood when she found herself alone at Wizard Falls during lunch time.
Emma had hoped that she would find Jake waiting there for her as she came up over t he hill, that he
had just slept in and missed the bus in the morning, but when she’d arrived at their secret hiding place,
it had been empty. Now she sat alone on the big rock with her lunch lying untouched beside her. She
had a strange feeling that she was waiting for something but she didn’t know what that something was.
The wind picked up and howled through the trees. Along with the drip-drip-drip of the waterfall, it
was like a lonely symphony just for Emma. She regretted again having forgotten her jacket and
wrapped her arms around herself, watching the tops of the trees sway with the wind in front of the
black rolling clouds.
The sudden boom of thunder made Emma jump. She glanced around into the woods until she
realized what the sound had been. A moment or two after her heart settled back down, the first few
drops of cold rain sputtered into the creek nearby. Emma looked up to the sky and felt a giant raindrop
land on her cheek. The drop was followed by a downpour.
Emma grabbed her lunch bag and jumped off the rock. She ran up the hill and slipped when she
was coming down the other side. Her lunch flew away and she watched it slide down into the creek.
Emma stopped her own slide by grabbing onto a root that was sticking out of the ground.
She slipped again at the bottom of the hill on the mud by the water’s edge and, by the time she
 
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