Jakarta Missing

Jakarta Missing by Jane Kurtz

Book: Jakarta Missing by Jane Kurtz Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jane Kurtz
a glorious vacation. But when we went snorkeling, I panicked every time I had to put my face in the water. And while they were looking at coral gardens under the sea, I got two sea urchin prongs in my foot and also split my toe. So I spent the rest of the time limping around our hotel room.
    I used to think it was just me. But now I can’t remember if Mom had a glorious time or not.

TEN

    T he next morning it was still raining. Dakar dreamed that she had just told a story and the audience was applauding politely. She woke to the sound of the rain against the windowpane. The gentle clapping made her remember the little rains on a tin roof. A clattering of angry voices down the hall was more like the big rains on tin. She lay stiff and still, trying to hear the words. Wisps eked through. Jakarta was arguing with Dad about school. But they never argued with Dad.
    The argument was still going on when Dakar went down to eat breakfast. “Mom’s leaving tomorrow,” Jakarta was saying to Dad. “I need to spend a day with her. I need her to take me shopping.”
    Dakar shot a look at Jakarta, but Jakarta stared down at her bowl.
    â€œAll right,” Dad finally said with exasperation. “But this is the only day you’re going to miss. The sooner you get to school, the sooner you’re going to make new friends and stop feeling so out of place.”
    â€œThe sooner the wildebeests will stomp me,” Jakarta muttered.
    Dakar pushed away from the table and went back upstairs.
    Mom was dressed and lying on top of the covers. She patted the side of the bed. “Off to school?”
    â€œYeah.” The bed squeaked as Dakar settled onto it. She reached out and stroked Mom’s arm.
    â€œGot an umbrella?”
    â€œI think it stopped raining while I was eating breakfast.”
    â€œIt isn’t quite the way we thought it would be, is it?” Mom said.
    â€œNot at all.” Dakar blinked and bit her thumb. “Why isn’t it?”
    â€œJust those famous teenage mood swings, I guess.”
    Mom murmured something else, but her voice was so soft that Dakar couldn’t hear. A burst of shouting drifted up from downstairs. “I’ve never heard either Jakarta or Dad be this way before,” Dakar said.
    â€œYour father hasn’t spent much time in the same house as a teenage Jakarta before, either.” Mom pulled Dakar down for a kiss. “Okay, I don’t like it, either. But it’s nothing to worry about. You have a good day in school, all right?”
    As she left the house, Dakar tried to figure out why people were always telling her not to worry. There was plenty to worry about. When she got close to Melanie’s house, she hesitated, but for some reason she didn’t feel like stopping. Everything was such a jumble. “How’s Jakarta?” Melanie would say again in her bright, eager voice. And what was Dakar going to say? She rushed on to school, not even stopping at her locker before she headed down the stairs.
    â€œThat poor child,” the cook said, shaking her head, when Dakar poured out the story. “That poor little lost child.” She clicked her tongue.
    Dakar watched the cook’s fingers pressing pizza dough into a tray. “What about me?” she said. “Why isn’t anyone worrying about me?”
    â€œOh, yes,” the cook said. “You’re a poor child, too. Too bad we’ve got to take the bitter with the sweet, Africa child. Did they tell you that in Africa?”
    Like pomegranates. “I just don’t think things should be bitter all the time.”
    â€œOh, my,” the cook said. “Life can be a dry and weary land where no water is. But I don’t b’lieve things are bitter all the time.”
    The kitchen was warm with the thick, yeasty smell of dough rising. “Here’s one thing I will tell you,” the cook said. “You tell her to go to

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