WHAT IS MISSING
The night after the boy was kidnapped a group of teens got high and formed the Ministry of Pre-Emptive Memorials. The Minister of Stuffed Animals, The Minister of Flowers, and the Minister of Signed Letters and Anonymous Poems embarked with the others in pairs to locate the goods they’d been assigned to gather. Their work was finished by dawn, and they photographed it, though the memorial lacked the contribution of the Minister of Wreaths (who had been arrested lurking naked in the meat section of an all-night supermarket). The memorial did not bear witness to the boy. What the friends had prepared was meant to brace the world against a calamity yet to come. To keep it ready.
But the next morning a woman who had knit a toque for the kidnapped boy mistook these flowers piled with crucifixes and homemade cards as a gathering undertaken for him; she added her offering. She had seen footage from the mall’s security camera, on TV first, then online and it doesn’t look like a kidnapping. A figure emerges from the crowd of holiday shoppers. They share a few exchanges, man and boy, and then vanish down a hall hand-in-hand. A comment posted online describes the uncoloured blur of their encounter as two ghosts in the afterlife meeting again for the first time. The woman only knew how to knit toques, which was fine, the days were getting shorter. She promised the boy if she learned to knit mitts she would leave a pair to match the hat.
The boy’s father had already destroyed the memorial created for the missing child. Neighbours had started it at the entrance of a local park. The boy’s father shredded hand-drawn laments and snapped stems as he shouted, He isn’t dead! Gathering the debris into a pile, he ignited it using gas from a jerry can and his car’s cigarette lighter.