People, Missy noted, were strange creatures. Often, she would sit on the couch and watch them, the way they moved, the way they talked. Interactions were so confusing. Even when Helen was visibly upset, she always pretended she wasn't, waving her hand at whoever dared to pry, telling them such foolish lies as "I'm just tired" or "It's just something in my eye", or the ever popular line "I'm okay, I mean it".

People were strange.

She felt so detached from this world, so unlike them. Most certainly, Missy was a part of them, but sometimes, she couldn't help but feel so far from them, so alien to them. The only one of them she'd ever felt close to was Chelsea. Chelsea, though, seemed to have disappeared.

It must h have been this college place that Helen and Ronald were always talking about. Chelsea was always happily chattering on about various colleges that had accepted her, packing boxes and unpacking them, repacking them just to pack them again. Missy would sit and watch her, confused, until Chelsea scooped her up to explain to her that she had to get ready for college.

"I'll be going away," she explained. "But I'll come back and visit. I promise!"

"Good," Missy replied. "Because I'll miss you when you're gone."

Chelsea smiled and ruffled the hair at the very top of her head. That was how Missy liked it best, because it felt so darn good. If only more people treated her so child-like and ruffled her hair like that. Oooh, it felt so good! No one ever seemed to understand her, though, when she ambled to the couch and begged for them to ruffle her hair. Instead, they always shooed her away.

Chelsea wasn't around anymore, though, Missy noted sadly. Days had passed since her disappearance. Surely, though, she couldn't have gone on to college, though, because her room remained just as it had days ago. Clothes were strewn around on the floor from a school-morning; Chelsea often made messes with her clothing, unable to choose anything. She always looked so pretty, though, but whenever Missy tried to tell her, Chelsea never seemed to understand.

Nudging her way into Chelsea's room, Missy's nose twitched, taking in the scent that was Chelsea's. Like everyone else's, hers was unique. Strong, with a hint of something fruity, which kind of her burned Missy's nose, but how she missed the scent. It wasn't as strong as it had once been. Sadly, she made her way to the bed, and curled up, her head resting on the pillow where Chelsea's used to. When was Chelsea coming back?

Sleep came quickly and Missy didn't realize she'd fallen until she'd woken. Blinking curiously, she looked around the darkened room, finding no sign yet of Chelsea.

Hunger pulled at her stomach, so, reluctantly, she crawled off the bed, jumped lightly to the floor, and made her way back to the door, squeezing through, and hurrying for the stairs. Since Chelsea had left, her feeding had been so erratic. The first day she disappeared, Missy hadn't even been fed. Since then, feeding became so erratic that she was uncertain if there would be any food waiting for her. As she was heading down the stairs, though, she heard noise. A soft sort of whimpering noise, and she paused. It was Helen. Helen sounded distressed. Was it because of Chelsea? Missy wanted to tell Helen that she missed her, too, but Helen always shooed her away.

Jumping down the stairs, taking them lithely, she stopped at the foot of the stairs and peered through the dim light at the two figures sitting at the table. Helen was slumped over, her elbows resting on the table in the sort or stressful pose that Missy knew so well. Ronald stood over her, one arm on her back, rubbing her soothingly. Missy's skin prickled and she, too, wanted to be petted so soothingly, but something smelled wary. Watching them balefully, she listened to their whispered conversation, straining her ears.

"We can't do anything, dear," Ronald whispered in an urgent voice. A hint of anger was in his tone.

"Someone has to do something!" came Helen's reply, running a slender finger under her eye. A sniffle came from her nose. "She's our daughter!"

"We can't do anything that will bring her back," Ronald reiterated, voice strained, but a certain kindness mixing in with the anger in his eyes.

"I want our Chelsea back," the woman whimpered, and Missy, too, imitated her whimper.

"I want her back, too!" she whined.

The two glanced over at the stairs to see Missy sitting, watching them. In the dim light, Helen's cheeks shined with tears and wrinkles were evident in both of their faces. As if this was an invitation, Missy ran over to the two, looking up at them expectantly. Helen reached down, scooping her up the way Chelsea always had, and cradled her in her lap, rubbing the top of her head.

"It isn't fair," she mumbled, seemingly more to Missy than to Ronald.

"No, it's not," Missy agreed, not really knowing what it was that the two were talking about.

"Of course it's now. How can it be fair? We can only hope that he'll receive the proper justice that he deserves."

"I want to serve him the justice," Helen spat vehemently. "My baby! He took my sweet, Chelsea! Because of him, I will never again see my beautiful daughter! I don't want to sit back and wait and hope he gets served the justice he deserves!"

The passion in Helen's voice and face frightened Missy a little and she whimpered a bit, pressing her head against Helen's chest. Her heart, Missy could hear and feel, was pounding with such force, such intensity, that it riveted throughout Missy's small body.

"Helen, the facts have to be accepted. Chelsea is gone. Do you want to be just like him?"

A garbled voice answered Ronald, mixed with sobs and whimpers. Helen's body shook and her arms tightened around Missy as she continued to cry. Scared, Missy whimpered again, wanting to console her mother. What was wrong? Where was Chelsea? So many questions came to mind and she tried to ask them, but Helen seemed to be crying too much to reply. Instead, Ronald answered her with a gentle "Shhh, Missy, shh."

Why was Mommy so upset?

And where was Chelsea?

"He's a monster," Helen finally answered, soothingly petting Missy in a manner that she could only assume was more for her comfort than that of Missy's.

"That he is. And the jury will probably agree, too. But we can't dwell on this. If we were to stay angry forever, it wouldn't be good for the children. Or ourselves. Do you think Chelsea wants us to stay angry forever and seek out revenge?"

In a childish voice, Helen answered. "No," she sniffed, her voice weak and thin. "But I don't know what else I'm supposed to feel. I can't just… let this go. My baby…"

"Of course you can't," Ronald replied. "I don't even expect you to forgive him. But you need to learn to let go of the anger, or we'll only be angry forever."

An ominous feeling was dawning on Missy and the panic in her body was growing too big, far too big for her tiny body. Alarmed, she began to beg them, plead with them to tell her where Chelsea was, to make her come back. The way they spoke and those stupid words of theirs seemed to suggest that Chelsea was gone forever. She hadn't even gotten to say good-bye!

"Oh, Missy," Helen murmured, wrapping her arms around the tiny body. "We can't be angry forever, okay? We've got to try and remember sweet Chelsea and let go of the anger. One day, that man is going to get what he deserves for taking our beautiful daughter's life. But we mustn't be angry." Her sobs broke her voice again and as she cried, she held Missy tightly as Ronald wrapped his arms around his wife and held her.

All Missy could do, she found, was to bark forlornly and whimper sadly.

What more could a dog do about the death of her best friend?