I wait for her to return. She has no phone, though even if she did, it would be of no help in its current state. She has no room card, no money, no shoes.
I call her name off the balcony into the courtyard, but there is no reply.
I call her name down the spiral staircase that leads to the lobby, but there is no reply.
I wait, repeating her name to myself, and wonder if anyone will notice her if she goes too far into the water, or who might find a crying teenage girl and see an opportunity to do harm?
I scrawl a note on that I leave on the door: WAIT HERE.
I walk to the restaurant, the main pool, the hotel’s main entrance, but there is too much, I cannot search everywhere. I ask the security officer if he has seen a girl, and he doesn’t speak English, so he fetches someone who does.
My daughter is missing, I explain. Has anyone seen her?
He doesn’t seem concerned, but asks for a picture. I pull up her picture on my phone, smiling with next to someone dressed as a giant red heart.
What is she wearing? He asks.
I don’t know.
How long has she been gone? He asks.
I tell him, and the look on his face says I am overreacting. I try to explain, she is very fragile, but it doesn’t translate well enough, he doesn’t see the urgency. I try again: She might hurt herself. She is very upset and might hurt herself.
Another security officer comes over, and I show him the photo, and he asks: What is she wearing?
I don’t know.
I don’t know.
Fifteen minutes ago, what she was wearing wasn’t important. Now, it is the most important thing I need to know, and I don’t know.
I don’t know what she is thinking, or doing, or wearing. Please, please, help me.
We walk across the courtyard, and another security guard comes up to me, then another, wanting to see my phone, so I show them the photo of my girl, yesterday, beaming on the beach.
Behind them, a shadow walks up the path, and I call her name, and she turns.
I was coming back, she says.
It’s okay, it’s okay. I say it to her, I say it to the security guards who realize I have found who I was looking for.
I walk her back to our room, keeping my arm around her as we pass other security guards, and I tell them, it’s okay. Thank you, it’s okay.
I open the door to our room, and the note falls to the floor, and I pick it up like I normally would, like anyone would.
We sit together, on the edge of the bed, and I tell her: Sometimes I am going to get angry, and sometimes other people are going to get angry, too. It’s a temporary problem; you need to learn to cope. Most problems are temporary: don’t choose a permanent solution.
That’s what the doctors keep saying, she says.
I can handle losing pictures, I tell her. I can’t handle losing you.
She starts to cry a bit, then harder: I’ve been lonely for so long.
I want to tell her it gets better, or easier, or less lonely, but instead I tell her the only I can say that I know is true: I will always be here to help you.