Angel looked at the faded newspaper clipping with complete awe and fascination. This could not possibly be right. Who was this little girl? She turned on the desk lamp to see the pale newsprint and reread the words for yet another time.
Returning home from her birthday party, Angelina Cooper, who had just turned 2, was reported missing from her South Beach, Florida home. The child was last seen in the car seat of her family’s 1969 Camaro Convertible which was parked at the 7-Eleven on 5th and Forest Street. Susan Cooper had parked in front of the convenience store on Christmas Eve and went inside for a gallon of milk, leaving little Angelina asleep in the backseat. When Mrs. Cooper returned to the car, the back passenger door was open and the toddler was gone. There are currently no suspects or leads in this case. If you have any information about missing Angelina Cooper, contact local police. The child was last seen wearing ......
Out of everything in Mama's scrapbook, why would she keep a news clipping like this? Who was this little girl? After her mother’s death, it had taken Angel six months to finally have the energy to pack up her mother’s keepsakes, and she had saved the scrapbooks for last, knowing they would invoke painful memories. When she started going through one of the oldest books, the scrap of newspaper had fallen out, apparently left loose instead of being glued to one of the many pages.
Angel looked closer at the paper and blanched when she saw the date: December 26, 1970. If the little girl was two when she went missing, that would make her almost the same age as Angel – they would have both been born in 1968.
Angel thumbed through the other clippings in scrapbook, but there were no other unusual items, only page after page of Angel’s happy childhood. She stopped at a clipping of a little girl of six sliding down the curved sliding board. This had been an ordinary day and her mom had taken her to the park near their home in Springfield, Illinois, which was their habit every afternoon before nap time. This particular day had been the first pretty day of spring, and a reporter from the local paper, The Sentinel Times, had been getting candid shots. Mom had not been happy about having her daughter’s picture taken, but since it was a public park, there wasn’t much she could do. The picture of Angel, without her name, had been in the next day’s paper. Two days later, they had moved to Ohio.
Angel closed the scrapbook and picked up the manila envelope she had found in her mother’s underwear draw. She opened it and pulled out the contents: birth certificate, social security card, and a few other important papers identifying Angel. She held the birth certificate up to the light and that’s when something looked odd. Holding the certificate up closer to the light, she turned it over from front to back several times. There was no watermark on the birth certificate.
Although Angel had been born in Alabama and she didn’t know much about Alabama birth certificates, but she was almost sure that every certificate needed to have a watermark to be legal. Then she started going over the information line by line.
Name, Angel Leeann Whitenack; mother, Connie D. Whitenack; father, unknown. It was true that Angel had never known her father, and her mother refused to even discuss him, saying only that he had left her when she turned up pregnant. Birthplace, Mason, Alabama; birthdate, December 24, 1968.
Wait a minute, mumbled Angel. My birthday isn’t December 24 – that’s Christmas Eve. My birthday is October 6th. This can’t possibly be right.