As much as I love my little haikus and super short tales, I’ve been trying to push myself to write in stuff that’s slightly longer. The September Story A Day challenge, which I discovered thanks to the lovely Kristi Simpson (please do check out her blog!), should provide me some inspiration.
Without further ado, let’s get right to the first story of the month, on the theme of ‘disappearance’.
Sam looked around the bedroom, marveling at its size, more than anything. Big money, big rooms. It was spotless, cream-colored bedsheets neatly tucked into the large wooden bed, mahogany study table free of clutter. There was a bookshelf that looked so pristine, Sam wondered if any of those books had ever been touched. Jessica didn’t strike her as the reading sort.
She opened the closet to reveal a kaleidoscope of color. The dresses and other outfits inside were like snowflakes: no two looked alike. She went through the outfits meticulously and looked around every corner of the closet, hoping to find something unusual or unexpected. But so far, all she could see was a rich teenager’s fancy bedroom.With a grunt, Sam shut the door and leaned against it.
Her head felt like nails were being driven through it very slowly. Beads of cold sweat were forming on her face, acting as glue for loose strands of dark, silver-tinged hair. She rubbed her forehead, squeezing the skin tightly. Sobriety didn’t suit her. After a few moments, the headache subsided, content to be a dull throbbing sensation around her ears. Sam took a few moments to steady herself and went back downstairs.
As she descended the ornate spiral staircase to the living room, she wondered just what she had gotten herself into. A phone call from Gordon Cahill, the CEO of Cahil Shipping and big man around town, had woken her up three hours earlier than she would have liked. He was not the sort of man who made his own calls, so she knew right away that something was wrong. His 16 year old daughter Jessica had been missing since last night. He had no idea where she could have gone, and he didn’t want to risk his reputation by getting the police involved. He had gotten Sam’s number from his personal assistant, Troy; she vaguely recalled helping him out of some mess a year ago. So here she was, looking for clues to a young girl’s disappearance while fighting back against a vicious hangover.
Summer was just getting underway, though the pleasant chill of spring lingered on. Jessica Cahill ‘s friends had all gone on holiday, jetting off to different corners of the world. The Cahills themselves were due to fly to Sardinia over the weekend, but those plans were on indefinite hold now. Sam tried her best to muster sympathy for their missed Italian vacation. There was no boyfriend involved either, as far as she knew. Gordon had a very strict policy about that. Going through high school without dating? Maybe Jessica’s disappearance wasn’t to mysterious after all. Sam suppressed the wry smile that was creeping across her face as she entered the spacious living room.
Mrs. Cahill was still sitting on the large vanilla colored couch, staring ahead of her with red-rimmed eyes, her pale hair hanging loose. Gordon stood by the brick fireplace. His hair was the color of iron, with not a single strand out of place, and his thick drooping mustache gave his face a permanent scowl. He turned to look at Sam, his eyes belying his stern expression.
“Well? Did you find anything?”
“Nothing out of the ordinary, Mr. Cahill. All I can say is that Jessica was quite a clean freak.”
Gordon’s jaw clenched momentarily, then relaxed.
“Is,” he said, firmly. “Jessica is very particular about keeping her things in order. She always has been.”
Sam adjusted the lapels of her overcoat. “Mhm. I’m sure your maid’s not too happy about that.”
“Miss Wilkes. Can you help us, or are we just wasting time here?” Gordon wasn’t bothering to mask his impatience anymore.
Sam looked him in the eye, trying not to let her fatigue show. “I’m afraid there’s really nothing for me to go on, Mr. Cahill. You said she was in contact with her piano teacher recently?”
“Yes, Daisy Shaw. They were planning out Jessica’s schedule so she could still practice by herself over the summer.”
“Then I’ll go talk to her. Maybe she can give me something.”
Sam walked to her car, head throbbing. From experience, she knew this case wasn’t going to have a happy ending. As she started the car and pulled out of the sprawling driveway, she wondered what would be worse: finding the girl’s corpse floating in the river or finding her alive but traumatized to hell in some creep’s basement.