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He worries that one day his grandmother will forget to pick him up from school. He thinks he could walk home if he had to, though the walk would take a long time, but when he tries to travel the route in his head, the streets twine and mingle like spaghetti in a can, disorienting him in his chair. Each time the school bell signals the end of another day, he feels a chill down his spine: maybe today is the day. To be lost or forgotten or abandoned and alone are, to Adrian, terrors more carnivorous than any midnight monster lurking underneath a bed.
And now there is this new fear, one that settles so comfortably among its myriad kin that it seems familiar, as if it’s skulked there, scarcely noticed, all along. He does not know those Metford children, but they are children just like him, just like the children he sees every day at school. On the TV, in the Metford yard, he had glimpsed a black-and-white striped basketball exactly the same as his own. He does not recognize their street, though it’s only twenty minutes’ drive away, but he feels as though he has seen it before. The trees, the fences, the rooftops, the clotheslines - that is middle-class suburbia, and Adrian is a suburban boy. . . .
It has never occurred to him - and he blushes faintly, for being so stupid - to think that children can vanish. The Metfords have not been lost or abandoned - they have been made to disappear. They have not run away - they have been lifted up and carried. They’ve been taken somewhere as distant as Jupiter. Adrian has never thought that an ordinary child, a kid like himself or Clinton or that freckle-nosed girl, might be of interest to anyone excepting family and friends, that an ordinary child could be worth taking or wanting, a desirable thing.