• Frolicking through the yard, I try to pick up speed and catch up with my friend Joy, who is just far enough ahead of me to be out of reach. Joane jumps up the stairs second before me, making me the loser for the fourth game in a row. Leaning over and putting my hands on my knees, I rapidly inhale, completely out of breath. Beside Joane, Kate and Mary stand tall and victorious, claiming first and second place respectively. They reached the stairs so far ahead of me that they are not even breathing hard anymore.
    When I have finally regained my breath Kate says, "As winner I choose to have our loser sing Mary Had a Little Lamb. All day long Kate and Mary have made me do stupid things after they won, a foolish idea that I had agreed to: the winner of every game could make the loser do something. Giving Kate a I-can-not-believe-you-are-making-me-do-this glare, I start to sing, wishing that the song was already over. Joane, Kate, and Mary laugh though the entire song. "That was great Dalia," Kate manages to say between giggles.
    "Yeah, yeah," I reply, "You all need to calm down; we still have to race one more time- you and Mary are tied and I would like to get another chance to win." Still laughing, they slowly line up, and as honorary loser I yell, "Ready.....set................go!" Mary takes off, claiming an early lead, the rest of us on her heels. Behind the house, with half the race behind us, Kate suddenly trips on a root and falls. Running right behind her Mary is unable to move out of the way, and unable to keep her balance, Mary falls on top of Kate. Joy and I stop running and walk over to help them get up. Mary is not hurt, but Kate has a twisted ankle. Taking one of Kate's arms, Joy taking the other, I begin to slowly walk Kate to the porch. Mary runs ahead of us to get ice.
    When we finally reach the porch Kate sits down on the top step. I start cleaning up the yard- picking up all the hoops, balls, etc. that we had been playing with. When I have everything else up I walk to the steps and pick up the notepad that we had been keeping score on. A note falls out, and picking it up I read, "Don't stop playing now, I was enjoying watching you. My favorite part was hearing Dalia sing." Showing everyone the note I ask who made it. No one claims responsibility.
    Pressing them to say who wrote the note, the sound of a speeding car catches my attention. A blue van comes into view, and tires squealing, jerks to a stop in the yard in front of us. Reacting quickly, Joy and Mary grab Kate and run into the house behind us. I follow them- locking the door behind me, then grabbing the phone to dial 911. The phone does not have a dial tone. Dropping it I fall onto the floor- following my friends' example by sitting on the floor- so that we will not be visible from the windows.
    I try to calm my racing heart as the sound of footsteps grows louder. The sound stops- and knowing that whoever is outside is standing right in front of the door I stop breathing- looking worriedly at Kate who is sitting closest to the front door. The jingling of keys breaks the silence and the lock on the door loudly clicks. The door slowly opens and a man whom I do not recognize enters the room. Wondering how he ended up with a key to Joy's house I stare at him in shock. His hair is jet black, his face tan and clean shaven. His arms are toned and muscular- which in addition to his tall height makes him look like a college jock. I swallow hard, fighting to restrain my fear as he steps closer, shutting the door behind him.
    Walking over to Kate, Mary, and Joy he asks for their cell phones. Taking them, he throws them onto the floor, then stomps them until they are broken to pieces. He then slowly walks over to me. I drop my head, my hair falling across my face, as I try to keep from making eye contact. Looking at the man's shoes I watch as he gets down on his knees. His hand pulls my chin up, forcing my eyes to meet his. He then pushes my hair out of my face, and as I begin to shake in fear, he leans towards me and kisses my neck.
    Looking over his shoulder I see Kate- looking at me with as much shock and fear as I feel coursing through my own heart. The man moves back in front of me, and looking into my eyes, he stands up and extends his hand. With his other hand the man reaches into his jacket and pulls out a gun. Pointing the gun at my head he orders, "Get up." Not knowing what else to do I take his hand and stand up. Moving the gun behind my back he walks me out of the house and into his van. I consider trying to fight, but know that he has the advance with a gun. Thinking through all my options it occurs to me that I will probably not be able to get away- and that if I resist and he shoots me, he may go back inside and get Joy, Mary, or Kate. I get into his van. Handcuffing me to the backseat, he warns me not to scream, then gets into the drivers seat. Scared for my life, and afraid of the future, I watch as Joy's house, and all safety and security, fade from view.