I didn't pay much attention to the first flyer I saw- I was running late for work, and hurried right past the photo-copied sheet growing damp in the morning mist. There's no shortage of this sort of fluttering plea in our bustling downtown- pitiful little scraps asking if anyone's seen a lost pet, rebellious mini-posters screaming about an upcoming indie show, the occasional obscure image expressing some post-post-postmodern street artist's ironic sense of humor. Usually I'll take a moment to read the pet ones, and keep an eye out for at least a day or two, but like I said- this morning I was in a hurry.
By the time I headed out for my lunch-time walk, I'd forgotten about the flyer. The mist had strengthened to rain over the course of the morning, but had since dissipated to the point where I felt comfortable leaving my rain jacket in the office in spite of the threatening clouds. I walked briskly, however, and almost missed the flyer a second time, thoroughly soaked now and clinging to the telephone pole like a scared child.
But something about it caught my eye, and I slowed myself enough to peel up a corner and see if it was an animal, after all.
It was not an animal.
I stared at the picture, my face burning with a curious combination of rage and shame, my stomach a block of icy dread. Because it wasn't an animal at all, it was a girl. A girl I knew. A girl around twenty-five, with waist-length red hair done in four french braids. A girl wearing a shiny black wetsuit and laughing as she clutched a surfboard that towered above her head by a good three feet. A girl standing in front of a wild sea of grey and green and white.
A girl that was me, ten years ago.
The word was large and messily scrawled in sharpie above the image. It continued beneath:
goofy-girl. swimmer-with-seals. wave-worshipper. fellow-frolicker.
if seen, please tell her i miss her. please ask her to come home.
i want to go home, too.
There was no contact information, but I didn't need it. Because I was probably the only person in the whole world who knew who Ruli was.
What Ruli was.
Except apparently someone else must know, too, because there was no way an 8'5" mini-longboard could have gone around town posting missing posters for her- for it's- owner.
You wake up one morning to find your face plastered all over town on a "Missing" poster. Who posted the signs? Where were you last seen? What were you wearing?