Your Quest Begins

There was once a girl named Lyndsey. At twelve years old, she was the fastest runner in Fletrook, she could bake a souffle and a challah loaf at the same time, and had won her local newspaper’s annual crossword competition, twice. Her parents,  it goes without saying, were extraordinarily proud. 

However, life can often be unkind. Her mother and father, both engineers, died in a fire at the nuclear power plant where they worked and Lyndsey was sent to live with her Aunt and Uncle. Her parents had raised her to be courageous and resilient and  Lyndsey spent the next two years of her life planning her future and exploring the fields and hills with her best friend and dog, Rocco. 

And here our story begins. One Saturday Lyndsey, her freckled face smiling in the sun, her brown hair twisted into two braids at her shoulders, set out on a morning wander. Rocco was, as ever, by her side, unless he was out front sniffing an interesting patch of grass, or behind interrogating a squirrel. But Rocco never let Lyndsey get too far without him. Around his neck hung a small kite made out of Lyndsey’s old baby clothes. When her parents were alive, the kite sat above her parents’ bed and so Lyndsey never wanted to be without it. 

It was a cloudy morning and Lyndsey was thinking about the box of Tim Tams she had spied her Aunt putting away after a trip to the market the  night before, when she spotted a hare out in the open sitting atop a  small hill, as if waiting for someone to challenge him. Rocco did not  hesitate. He charged the hare full steam, her parents kite bouncing off his brown furry back, until both the hare and Rocco disappeared down the hill. 

Lyndsey followed, strolling over the hill. Her mind so full of the preoccupations of a 14 year-old girl—crushes, jealousies, and, of course, Tim Tams—that she did not notice right away that Rocco was not waiting for her at the bottom of the hill. After some time, she  began calling for him. After some more time, she began running the fields and calling for him. But Rocco, it seemed, had disappeared. 

She sprinted home to tell her Aunt and Uncle and together, they canvassed the fields. They asked every stranger they met whether a brown, fluffy dog with a kite around his neck had been seen in the area, but every answer was no. They searched the woods. They looked for clues by the ponds. By that evening, they had called every veterinarian, pound and farmer they  could find. It was no use. Rocco was gone. 

Lyndsey was so distraught she couldn’t eat, not even the Tim Tams. Her Aunt tried to reassure her. “Rocco will come home,” she said. “All we have to do is wait. You’ll see.”

And Lyndsey wanted to believe her. She wanted to wake up the next morning to find Rocco waiting at the door. But something was off. Something she couldn’t put her finger on. And as she lay in her bed, unable to sleep, she became more and more convinced she needed to do something about it.