It only took a moment for Abby to take her eyes off Emma while at the beach taking pictures, she was gone and Abby's life was changed in an instant. It was a damp and foggy day when Abby decided to take six-year old Emma with her to take pictures at the beach, after all she was going to be her step-mother pretty soon and they needed to spend some time together. When Emma let go of Abby's hand to collect a sand dollar Abby knew Emma was afraid of the water so she didn't have to worry about her getting too close to the waves. Abby found a baby seal on the beach and was trying to decide to photograph it when she noticed she couldn't see or hear Emma. Trying to stay calm, Abby ran up and down the beach calling her name. She ran to the parking lot, along the highway and to the two local restaurants near by. Finally, almost thirty minutes had gone by, Abby called 911. Then made the most dreaded call to Emma's dad, Jake. While waiting for the police and Jake, Abby went over and over in her head what happened, who she had seen, cars in the parking lot, anything that might lead to finding Emma.
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She and Jake had to take a polygraph test which they both pass. The police wanted to find Emma's mom but Jake had lost contact with her after she left him and Emma over three years ago. She only called if she needed money for drugs and booze. They set up a 'lost child' center with pictures of Emma. Everyday, with the help of volunteers, they both went out in different directions and posted the flyers up. Abby walked the beach everyday. The Coast Guard and divers scoured the beach for days, to no avail. The police had no suspects and no leads. Abby goes over every detail again with the police, the yellow Volkswagen van in the parking lot old and rusty. The man and woman that got out and said hello. When Emma was gone, so was the van.
After a month of no leads, Abby decides to join a support group of parents that have lost or stolen child. Jake won't go. He gets more distant. Abby feels he blames her and her alone. Jake sets up an interview with a TV station to talk about Emma. Emma's mom shows up after seeing the show and says she had no idea her child was missing. Jake was hoping Emma had been with her all this time. Jake tries to work and Abby takes a photo shoot job. It only masks the distance and strain on their relationship. They don't spend the night together anymore. The plans for the wedding are ignored.
Day seventy, Abby goes again to the beach restaurants, where she is a regular now. Always hoping something new will come up. This day one of the young waitresses sees the sketches Abby has of the van and the couple from the parking lot. Goofy, is a surfer and tells Abby there is no way anyone could have drown that day cause the ocean was very calm. Abby leaves her information for Goofy in case anyone goes in the surf shop and recognizes the van. The police and Jake thin it is just a dead end, they are ready to give up. Abby can't sleep, hardly eats, tries to work but nothing helps. Abby recalls how she lost the only other man she had had a relationship with. He was killed on his motorcycle - and all she could think about was that she had no pictures of him.
Jake gets a call from the police, they found a little girl, dead, they want him to come identify the body. It's not Emma. Day 118, it's Emma's birthday. She would be seven. Abby calls her sister for support. The volunteers have dwindled. The story doesn't make the news anymore. She and Jake hardly speak. Near Christmas Abby goes on a talk show to get Emma's face back in the news. On January third, the detective calls Jake to inform him they found a shoe like Emma was wearing that day, stuck in a crack in a rock by the ocean. Abby just won't accept that Emma is dead. Jake finally decides to have a memorial service for Emma, he can't go on without some closure. It's been 189 days.
Abby goes to see Goofy, she has a new drawing of the surfboard the guy in the van had. Goofy's partner at the shop recognizes it. The guy that had it was a famous surfer but was killed in a plane crash. His board was special made and only a few exist. Day 229, Goofy has a guy in her shop that saw the surfboard and the guy who had it said he was going down to Cost Rica to see some friends and surf. Abby started to pack. She tells Jake her lead and that she is going there. He wants her stay. Day 231 Abby heads for Costa Rica after one more meeting with Nick, a special client and a new friend. He gives her a lead on a place to stay when she gets there and a friend at the embassy in case she needs help.
Abby makes plans to go to Playa Hermosa where a lot of the American surfers go. She gets a cabin to rent for the month. She tries to blend in with the locals and says she is a photographer from a travel magazine so as to not call attention to what she is looking for so they won't scare away. She befriends a local bartender hoping for some help. The bartender has a friend that knows all the best surf spots and makes a map for Abby. Abby puts out word that she is also looking for this special surfboard to 'buy for her brother' just in case anyone has seen it. She takes one and two day trips to the surf spots but no luck.
Day 304 and Abby has been in Playa Hermosa for two months. She follows another tip to go to Toes on the Noes where the next big surf contest is. She takes her camera and continues the act of photographer for a travel magazines, interviewing people on the beach, asking about the board. The contest heats up, a famous surfer Rabbit, shows up, the beach is packed. Abby sees the 'board' only a few feet in front of her. The hand holding the board turns it around and it's not him and Abby just loses it.
Day 332 Abby decides it's time to go home, be with her sister who's pregnant. She decides to take the long bus ride to a couple more beaches before the airport. She gets off at Playa Espadilla, crowded with families. She takes out her camera and starts to take pictures. Then she notices a figure on a towel, a profile, a ponytail. Abby walks closer. The girl is looking at her. Does she recognize her? "Emma?" she asks.
Abby tells her they have been looking for her and finally she answers that she has been waiting. Where is her daddy? Who took her? Abby realizes she needs to get her out of there before the couple comes back. It takes a few minutes to convince Emma that it's ok to go with her, she won't get in trouble. They run through the jungle to the main road and get on the bus. They head to San Jose. Emma tells Abby that she has seen her mom several times over the months. Abby can't believe what she is hearing. When they get to the hotel Abby calls Jake but gets no answer. She packs her bags and calls the Embassy. Jake finally calls back and can't believe Emma is alive. He makes plans to fly down there to meet them. Wiggins from the Embassy calls to tell Abby that they are going to pick up the couple and that Emma can go home but she will have to stay and identify the couple.
They are escorted to the airport the next morning to meet Jake. It turns out that the man, Teddy, is Emma' moms cousin. Finally Jake and Emma are reunited. They go home leaving Abby behind, not knowing what the future will be between them.
Wiggins takes Abby to the police station to id the couple. It turns out that Lisbeth paid them $10,000 to kidnap Emma. Lisbeth said she only did it so she could spend more time with Emma. Abby id's the couple and is ready to go home.
After getting home Abby calls Jake to see him and Emma. He is cold an distant, telling her Emma is sick or that she can't go out. Abby finally realizes it is over for her and Jake and trying to get back into Emma's life is not going to happen. So she heads to the beach to hang out with Goofy and tell her the good news. Goofy talks her into taking a surf lesson. And her life goes on.
Best part of story, including ending:
I liked the suspense, not knowing what happened to Emma and Abby's perseverance to find her.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was when Abby found Emma.
Opinion about the main character:
I liked Abby for her strength she didn't know she had and her weaknesses that made her so human.