As I mentioned, I do not believe Asha ‘left’ her home; she wasn’t going away, she was going to.
Here’s a very plausible scenario that actually fits every facet of Asha’s personality, parents and home life. Be reminded that obviously, I don’t have a script or crystal-ball visual of what happened but I believe some of what I speculate can be fashioned into a different but similar occurrence entailing a positive (i.e. fun and/or important) event:
I believe Asha was approached by the ‘monster’ about a surprise celebration having to do with her parent’s anniversary.
She’s asked to keep the party a secret and may have even signed a greeting card or been shown an image of party supplies all in an attempt to convince Asha the event is real.
Asha most likely was told how important her confidence is (in keeping the secret) and it’s likely she was reminded how, if she’s not quiet, she’ll ruin the whole event and everyone will be disappointed.
And it will be all her fault.
Asha’s mother was reported saying, “She would do anything to get you to like her.” Again, this part of Asha was most certainly known–and exploited–by someone very close to her.
As I mentioned, all of this had to have happened over the course of several days but not too far in advance, lest Asha should slip up and tell someone.
The perpetrator tells Asha what to pack in her bookbag. Most likely he tells her when and how to pack each piece so its absence goes undetected. Too, he creates instances why each piece is needed (like taking group photos, etc.) and reminding Asha how important her discretion is to the whole surprise affair.
Sociopaths are master manipulators; they find a critical weak spot in everyone’s psyche and use it on even the fullest, most sophisticated and educated of people. And they’ll also find a strength and use that to the fullest, as in Asha’s virtue for being dependable. Whatever a person ‘has’ they’ll take. Children don’t stand a chance against said individuals.
During the course of the week and as the proposed party/celebration nears, Asha is most likely reminded about the secret and the approximate time of morning to be ready. Such reminders don’t need to be out-and-out, “Be ready . . ..” verbal reminders; rather, these reminders can be a clandestine poke in a crowd, or a playful tug of the hair followed by a wink or nod. Over the course of several days, the reminders are many, sporadic and are very effective; they can be done with a roomful of people and no one but Asha and the perpetrator will know .
On the next page, I’ll explain my suspicions about what I believe happened next.
Page Poser: What do you think about such a scenario where Asha was manipulated by a person she knows and trusts? Do you think what I’ve described seems practical? What other scenarios seem plausible in getting a young child to meet them at their door?