Written by Cynthia L Sperko
Editor’s Note: This is the first chapter in a fictional story set in Marietta. Future chapters will appear in upcoming issues of The Marietta Traveler.
Sara quickly walked down West Market Street. She was on her way to the First National Bank to work on her history paper and to borrow a reference guide. Zipping her cobalt blue jacket, she crossed the street.
Sara was a few feet from the bank entrance when a man coming out of the building ran full force into her.
As Sara fell to the ground, the man disappeared into the darkness. Dazed, Sara slowly sat up.
A voice from a far called her name. It was Jackson, a classmate from Donegal High School.
“Sara, are you alright?” Jackson asked. Staring blankly at him, Sara nodded her head as he helped her up and gathered her belongings.
“Thank you…serves me right for not watching where I was going” Sara replied. “What are you doing here?”
“I saw what happened. Are you sure you’re okay? Gosh that man was rude running into you like that. I can’t believe he took off…” Jackson answered, looking down the road in the direction he went.
“Yes, I’m fine,” Sara told him.
“C’mon, let’s get you home” Jackson replied.
“There’s a reference guide I need for school…” Sara said.
“How about if you get it tomorrow? I really think it’s best to get you home,” Jackson replied. “Okay…if you insist,” Sara said.
“Oh my gosh Sara are you sure you’re alright? Your knee looks very painful” Sara’s best friend Carly exclaimed.
“It’s just a bruise. It’s not as bad as it looks” Sara replied, pulling her pant leg back down. “I’m more concerned about my history homework.”
It was Saturday morning and both girls were in Sara’s room.
“Sara, only you would be worried about that” Carly told Sara. “Is it true that Jackson showed up from nowhere?”
“Yup” Sara replied. “Do you mind if we make a stop on the way back from Molly’s Courtyard Cafe?”
“No…not at all,” Carly said.
When Sara and Carly arrived at the bank, a small crowd was gathered outside the front entrance. Word spread quickly that the Marietta Cross was taken.
The Marietta Cross was designed by the two women who Marietta was named after.
The cross was recently found hidden inside the floorboard of the home both daughters grew up in. The homeowner rightfully donated the town treasure to the bank.
Sara’s dad, a detective on the police force, approached the two young women. “Dad, is it true? Did someone steal the Marietta Cross?” Sara asked.
“Yes, it’s true. The bad thing about it is the security cameras weren’t working” Sara’s dad replied, signaling that he was going back inside the bank.
Sara watched as her dad entered the building.
“If only I saw his face…or found a way to stop him…” Sara said out loud.
“Sara, there was nothing you could do. It’s possible that he’s innocent” Carly said, looking concerned.
“I know you’re right, but I still feel like I could’ve done something…” Sara replied. Noticing something on the ground, Sara grabbed a tissue and picked up the item.
Sara examined the piece of potential evidence. Reaching inside her large handbag, Sara took out a plastic bag and placed the item in it.
“It may be nothing, but it also could be something” Sara said.
When Sara and Carly were back in Sara’s bedroom, they talked about the event at hand. “Wow. I can’t believe that someone stole the Marietta Cross!” Sara exclaimed.
“What did your dad say when you told him?” Carly asked.
“I… didn’t…tell him. I made Jackson promise not to say anything too.”
“Why? Carly asked.
“I don’t know…I didn’t get a good look at him…I couldn’t describe him if I was hypnotized” Sara replied.
“Hmmm. Good point” Carly replied.
The next school day Sara began a secret crusade to help her dad solve the case of the Marietta Cross. Sara couldn’t wait to get home.
When the school bell rang, Sara exited the classroom and went to her locker. Once opened, she put her books on the shelf, grabbed her handbag, closed her locker and headed for the school bus.
Carly was already on board and as usual, saved Sara a seat beside her.
“I’m so glad this day is over. I don’t know about you, but this day was long” Sara said, leaning back on her seat with her eyes closed.
“It was long for me, too. History class seemed never ending” Carly replied. “Not to change the subject, but did you find anything useful with the evidence?”
“I didn’t have time. I’ll analyze it tonight” Sara said.
Upon getting off the bus, Sara noticed Quinn, the school bully, and Jackson together. “Maybe they should get a room,” Sara told Carly.
“Don’t worry. They’re just friends…or rather classmates now” Carly replied. “They dated each other in junior high, but Jackson ended it. You can guess why.”
The two best friends hugged each other before departing their way to their homes.
Before Sara did anything else, she wrote about the recent events in her diary. She was in her bedroom. She knew homework came first, but something else was on her mind.
Closing the journal, Sara thought about the Marietta Cross.
“Who was that man? It makes sense that he’s the thief, but why?” Sara thought, taking the sample out of her bag.
Looking at it, Sara was certain the thick chipped piece of plastic was from a pair of eyeglasses. A strong prescription, too.
Sara was still disappointed that she didn’t get a good look at the man who possibly took the town’s most valuable possession.
“Just because he was there, doesn’t mean he stole the cross. But maybe he saw who took it and got scared” Sara thought.
“By the way, the evidence I found may be linked to the theft” Sara told Carly at lunch the next day.
“Really?” Carly asked.
“Yes. I need to keep a look out for a classmate with a broken pair of eyeglasses” Sara replied. “I’ll explain later.”
After school, Sara went to the First National Bank. When she arrived, her dad, as well as two police officers were there collecting more evidence. One of them acknowledged Sara by giving her a hug.
“Dad, how’s the case going?” Sara asked, walking towards him.
“Sara, it’s an open investigation. You know I can’t get into the details. I have to get back to the station” Sara’s dad replied, holding a large paper evidence bag.
It was the start of another school day. And it was finally Friday. Sara approached and opened her locker to find a note with her name on it.
“If you want to discover the real reason why the Marietta Cross was taken, go to the Gay Street entrance of the Northwest River Trail at noon tomorrow. Tell nobody about this and come alone,”
Looking at the paper, Sara guessed that a classmate slipped it in her locker. Placing it inside an evidence bag, she closed her locker and went to her next class.
It was 11:59 on Saturday morning. Sara waited where the note instructed her to do so. She knew she was taking a big risk telling Carly where she was going, but she had to tell someone.
Carly was told to wait at Sara’s home until she heard from her.
It was two minutes after 12 noon. Sara was about to leave when she received a text message. “There’s been a change of plans. Go to the white van parked at Gay and Front Streets.”
The note read.
Sara did as she was told. As she approached the old white van, she memorized the out of state license plate number. She also turned on the location on her mobile device.
She knew that she was taking a huge risk, but it was a risk Sara was willing to take. After all, she felt responsible for the theft.
Slowly, Sara took a step inside the van. The musty smell did nothing to calm her fears. Neither did the worn out vinyl seats. But she had to know the real reason why the Marietta Cross was stolen.
To be continued in the next edition of the Marietta Traveler!