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Missing


This story is a writing exercise I did this week. The task is this: you generate 12 random words and then write them into a story. The random words are bold in this post. I would love to know what you think of it, so please feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email.


Photo by Eduard Militaru on Unsplash

I finish my beef burger and fries and toss a tenner on the counter. The barman smiles a service-person smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. I throw another pound in the tips jar, and he becomes much more amiable. I grab my jacket and exit into the bright sunlight. I glance at my watch to confirm I still have time until my next meeting. As I wander down the main street, I contemplate this sudden warm weather spell. It’s unusual for this neck of the woods. The incessant Ni-Nah of the siren behind me increases in volume and proximity, and soon that’s all I can hear. I absently watch the teenage girl on the other side of the street. She’s leaning on the wall by the bus stop. After the ambulance passes between us, she is gone without a trace. I look around, not thinking anything of it. But when I can’t see her anywhere, my search becomes wilder, frantic.

I cross the street and start asking people if they’ve seen where she went. People look at me like I’m crazy. I call the police, and they send two officers who are on patrol close by. I explain what happened, thinking they’ll treat me as a material witness. But they mostly laugh at me. They say that I can’t report someone missing if I just saw them disappear off the street. Her family has to report her missing and only then will they start looking for her. I try to explain to them that if they wait for too long, the trail will be cold. But they say I watch too many detective-shows on the telly. They're probably right. I try to argue that had I seen her being dragged off into some van they’d be tearing up the entire street right now. But just because I didn’t see that happen doesn’t mean she’s safe. They start calling me truculent, uncooperative, a disturbance. I get the hint and say, well, thank you for your service officers, I apologise for taking up your valuable time.

Then I start walking along the street. There’s a high wall behind the pavement so the girl couldn’t have gone over it. She must have found some entrance. After about 100 metres I see it. A gate into a park that’s behind the wall. I go in and start looking for her. The hunt is on. In my head, I start talking like an old-time detective. Let’s review the evidence. What do we know so far? The person in question, a Caucasian female, in her early 20s, with short dark brown hair and a long bright pink strip of hair on the front, piercing on her nose and ears, disappeared from the bus stop at 1:17 pm. She may have gone into the park. I search all around the park, asking people if they had seen her. No one has. There’s a group of teenagers on the far side of the park, in the parkour area. I walk over them, thinking I might need to go undercover. But I can’t think up a good cover before I approach them, so I ask them if they’d seen her. Maybe we have. What’s it to you, grandpa? Don’t have a stroke. I walk away from them in disgust. They made me feel my age.

I roam the park until the tree shades stretch across the weary lawn. Then I concede defeat and go back to the street and start my way home. In my head, I can see her perfect form leaning against the wall where I saw her this afternoon. I hear a squeak behind me, and I glance around. An old gentleman is walking a young puppy. The puppy is chewing on a toy and wagging its tail. The gentleman nods and smiles to me. I smile back and cross the street.

Then I see her again, descending the steps of the double-decker. I watch her in disbelief, perhaps I’m confused and imagining her. But, no, that’s her. She walks a few metres down the street and then up the steps of a terraced house. She unlocks the door and goes in.

#Mystery #ShortFiction

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