**This article is based on nonfiction by actual events witnessed firsthand by me; used with permission.
Growing up in an area that had a lot of polygamy, it wasn't unusual for a few of the girls to not return to school after the Christmas holiday. When I reached my freshman year in high school, some of the girls would not return to school after the winter break.
It wasn't unusual for this particular region of the United States; in fact, it was very common. As soon as the girls reached fourteen to sixteen, some of them were being "sent away" to live with "relatives." That's what we were told in school anyway.
One such winter break, my friend called me, and through a very whispered voice, she told me she wouldn't be returning to school after winter break. Naturally, I had a lot of questions, but she only had a few minutes to talk to me. She wanted to tell me goodbye and let me know she would be okay.
She told me that she would be getting married the next day and after that she'd be leaving town. I was heartbroken for my friend. She and I had shared many deep conversations about our differing beliefs, and I knew that she had hoped to go to college and become a teacher.
When school started back up, she wasn't in class, so I decided that I would stop by her house after school and see what her parents would say to me. I knocked on the door, and her mother answered. I asked about my friend and if she was feeling better. Her mother told me that she had gone to live with her aunt in another town.
I asked her mother if I could have the aunt's number and call my friend, but she said she couldn't give it out. I remained hopeful all through school that my friend would one day call me and tell me she was okay and doing well. I wish I could say that she called, but she never did call me. I never heard from her again.
Many years after I graduated high school, I heard through the community grapevine that my friend had finally left the polygamist cult that she had married into. I hope she did indeed leave the polygamist cult that she had married into. I hope that she could become the teacher that she always wanted to be. I left the area shortly after that and haven't been able to get back in touch with her, but I've never forgotten her, and I never stopped praying for her.