Emma and the Minotaur
2 The Disappearing Boy
Early into the new school year, Emma became obsessed with a boy who disappeared.
It all began on the first day of school during morning recess. Emma was sitting on a swing in the
playground swinging her feet and reading the book that she had smuggled out of class. She was
keeping half an eye on a few bo ys who were bouncing a tennis ball off the side of the building. She was
wary of them because she had been the victim of a stray ball or two before.
It was during one of her glances up from the book that she noticed the disappearing boy quite by
accident. He was a plain- looking boy and he was walking around the playground with his hands in his
pockets. There was something about him that made Emma believe she had seen him somewhere. His
face looked familiar but she couldn’t remember if she had ever met the boy.
She watched him for the remainder of recess and noticed that he was avoiding the other kids.
Whenever someone looked at him, he would look down at the ground and walk away.
Emma decided that she would try to become his friend.
The bell signalling the end of recess went off and the teachers who were in charge of supervising
the playground herded the children back inside. Emma tried to keep an eye on the boy as she walked
toward the school doors but she lost him in the crowd. She stopped to look around for him but then she
saw Will approach from the other side of the school, where the basketball courts were located.
“Hey, what are you doing?” he said.
“Nothing,” Emma said, still looking through the crowd.
“You better get to class, Emma. Don’t want to get in trouble on your first day.”
They entered the school together but Will went straight down the hall to his classroom on the first
floor. Emma’s class was on the second floor. She went to the stairs but stood at the bottom and watched
as the remaining children walked or ran past her on their way up. The boy wasn’t among them.
“Go to class, please,” someone said. Emma turned and saw one of the teachers. He was a tall man
with gray hair and a round belly.
“Sorry,” Emma said. “I was just looking for someone.” She fled up the stairs.
When she reached her classroom, Emma saw that the boy she had been looking for was sitting at
the desk nearest the door.
“You’re in my class? How did you get here?” she said.
Everyone in the class turned to look at her, including the teacher.
“Emma,” she said. “Please sit down. And try not to be late next time.”
Emma turned pink. “Yes, Miss Robins,” she said and took her seat.
Emma tried to catch the boy again during lunch time.
She entered the busy cafeteria and sat down with Will and his friends, Kevin and Joey. The room
was filled to capacity. Laughter erupted now and then from one table or another.
“So full in here this year,” Kevin said. “It’s all the stupid grade sixes.”
“Yeah, so many new ones,” Joey said. He motioned toward Emma with a tilt of his head.
“Sorry, Emma,” Kevin said. “You’re not actually that stupid.”
When she finished eating, Emma scanned her surroundings as she sipped out of a box of apple
juice. There were too many kids and she couldn’t see very far because she wasn’t tall enough. With a
sigh, she climbed on top of her chair.
A carrot stick flew by her head while she looked. From her vantage point, she estimated that she
could see maybe two thirds of the students in the cafeteria but that she would miss the boy if he was
somewhere on the periphery. If the boy didn’t have any friends, and wanted to avoid company, then he
was certain to be somewhere along the edge of the room. She needed to go higher.