His parents said that the front door being open was the first sign, but it was actually when he skipped Homecoming and Formal and Prom. It was when he sat in his car at work for too long, eyes rimmed red. When he pushed everyone away: yelling at his parents, avoiding his friends. He broke up with his girlfriend over text. He told her he didn’t love her anymore. Then he burned her pictures in the backyard.

The suicide notes in the wastebasket made the police believe he was dead. But his gym bag was missing with at least three sets of clothes and his parents’ lockbox was emptied. His parents started to call everyone, even people he hadn’t talked to since elementary school. The police chief interrupted. “We found something.”

There was blood splattered on the floor of the shower. Stuck to the mirror was a posted note: “You no longer have a son. Stop looking.”

The police theorized that maybe he was kidnapped, maybe he was involved with drugs, maybe he wanted attention he wasn’t getting at home, maybe he met a girl. All wrong.

They found him in his car, tree branch smashed through the window and scarlet staining the leather seats.

Fiction

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