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The day was warm and dry. Everywhere Paul looked he saw families playing together in the park. It had been only two years since Paul moved to Idaho and he was more or less adjusted to living in a highly religious community. It had been a point of discomfort in the beginning, but he had gotten used to it.
He looked towards the slide where his youngest daughter was playing. Her brown hair was blowing in the wind. They had never cut her hair even though she was two years old now. It had always seemed inconvenient. Besides, her brown, curly hair was just too cute for a pair of scissors.
“Look at Sam,” Maria said from beside him on the bench. She was pointing towards the playground bridge where their son was laughing with a girl who looked to be about four, only a year younger than Sam.
“A real ladies man, eh?” said Paul.
“Just like his dad,” Maria said as she snuggled up to him and nuzzled his arm. Paul looked down at her. She was smiling up at him. He couldn’t help but to smile back at her. She had the brownest eyes he had ever seen and they went with her brown skin perfectly.
“Sam! Sarah! Come on! We’re going to go to the merry-go-round!” shouted Maria. Like perfect children, Sam and Sarah both came running, holding hands.
The line for the merry-go-round was not very long. The rides actually lasted for quite a while and were only a dollar per child. It was somewhat of a novelty in this town. There wasn’t much to be seen other than potato and cattle farms for miles. Yet, here was this town with an extravagant merry-go-round right in the middle of its tiny park. It seemed like a picture from a 1930s postcard. It was even covered in an old-style, octagon shaped pavilion. The whole scene just seemed out of place, but it worked in this town. Everything here seemed so family oriented. It was almost like living inside of a dome that nothing could get into that didn’t fit the religious culture of the area.
Once the ride started Sam and Sarah squealed in delight. Sam wouldn’t really enjoy this sort of thing by himself, but he loved his little sister and seemed to have the most fun when she was enjoying herself. As the lights flashed, and the old-school music played something caught Paul’s eye on one of the pavilion arches. It was a picture.
He had only caught a glimpse though, so he determined to see what the picture was on the next trip around. It was a missing poster. A little girl from a neighboring town had disappeared. He couldn’t make out anything else on the poster. Something disturbed him about it.
When the ride ended he walked over to the poster. “Dad, what are you doing?” Sam asked. Paul didn’t respond. That girl. She was only seven years old. A merry-go-round worker came up and ripped the poster off of the arch angrily. He stomped over to one of the young teenage workers and began to berate him. “What is this garbage? We don’t need crap like this around here. This is a family place!”
Paul walked off and squeezed Sam’s hand as they caught up to Maria and Sarah. The music played. The merry-go-round kept spinning.