Short Story Sunday 273: Plan

Short Story Sunday: Plan | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | Short Story | RachelPoli.com

“So, where do we go from here?” Matt asked. He leaned against the kitchen counter staring at his girlfriend stirring a pot of boiling water. “Also, what are you doing?”

“I don’t know,” Anna replied shaking her head. She was staring deeply into the pot and put the wooden spoon down. Then she opened a package of penne pasta and dumped it all in.

“You don’t know what you’re doing with cooking? Or where we go from here?” Matt wondered aloud.

“Both.” Anna shrugged. She watched the pasta foam and simmer down as she stirred it again.

“Would you like me to cook?” Matt asked with a hint of caution in his tone. He wasn’t sure what was bothering Anna but she was normally a great cook and she certainly seemed to be a bit off tonight.

“Nah, I got it.” Anna said. She put the spoon back down and turned around to face him. “So, you want to talk about it?”

“I think we should. We kind of have to. I’m not really sure what the right thing to do is.” Matt stated. He looked over his shoulder through the archway into the living room, but nothing was there. “Is Phil in the bathroom?”

“I think he’s taking a shower.” Anna replied. “I feel like this is something we need to talk to Phil about as well. It can’t just be us.”

“I know, but we should come up with some sort of plan. I mean, what if we talk to him and he sucks us back in?” Matt countered. “Your brother said he was only going to be here for a week and it’s been three months. He needs to move on. He needs to be an adult. Get a job and get his own place.”

Anna sighed. “I know, I know… I just hate seeing my younger brother go through this, you know?”

“I get that. I love Phil like my own brother, trust me. I’d do anything for him, but it’s getting to the point where I feel like we’re enabling him more so than helping you.” Matt explained.

“I agree,” Anna said nodding her head.

“So, I believe we should come up with some sort of plan – maybe two – and then either give him the options or just tell him like it is.” Matt said firmly.

“Alright. What do you propose?”

“I have no idea.”

“So, then…?”

“I was hoping you’d have some ideas.”

“Ideas for what?” Phil entered the kitchen. He immediately went over to the fridge and took out a carton of milk. Instead of getting a glass, he opened the carton and chugged it.

Anna put a hand on Matt’s shoulder when he noticed him getting tense. He looked as though he was about to blow. She knew it bothered Matt to no end when people drank out of the carton, especially in someone else’s home.

“Phil,” Matt said waving an okay to Anna. She turned her attention back to the stove not wanting to have anything to do with this conversation.

“What?” Phil replied. He took another swig of milk and then put it back into the fridge.

“Anna and I were just discussing your… situation. You know, the job and apartment hunting? How’s that going?” Matt began. He wanted to give Phil a deadline, an ultimatum, or something. Since he didn’t get a chance to talk it over with Anna first though, he needed to improvise.

“How’s it going?” Phil repeated. He glanced at the ceiling and hummed to himself. “It’s not, I guess. I didn’t realize I had to.”

Anna turned around and glared at her brother. “What do you mean you didn’t realize you had to?”

Matt put a hand on her shoulder. Usually it was him who lost his temper. He didn’t want Anna to start yelling at his brother. He wasn’t in the mood to have a rift in his own home between his wife and brother in law. Anna swatted his hand away though.

“Well, I’m here so I don’t need a place to live. You guys own the house so I don’t have any bills to pay. So, why do I need to get a job?” Phil asked.

Anna’s jaw dropped and Matt stepped in front of her.

“Phil, I think you’re missing the point… this house belongs to us, yes, and we’ve been kind to let you stay here, but we agreed it would be temporary. You said you were going to look for a job and then look for an apartment after. We can’t keep paying for your stuff. You need to take care of yourself.” Matt explained as calmly as he could. He wanted to blow his top at Phil but it was clear he needed to keep Anna’s temper in check as well.

“Oh, well you didn’t tell me that part.” Phil said with a shrug.

“Phillip! You’re an adult! You should have already known that especially since you told us you’d only be living with us for a week.” Anna snapped. “I love having you here. Really, I do. But you need to take care of yourself, like Matt said, and honestly, Matt and I need some space.”

Phil looked between his sister and Matt. He grinned and winked at Matt. “Oh, okay. I get what you mean.”

Anna glowered at him. “No, that’s not what I meant at all and you know it.”

Phil held his hands up in surrender. “No worries, Anna. I’ll get out of your hair soon. I just have a quick question…”

“What is it?” Matt asked.

The boiling pot of pasta hissed as the water poured out of the top. Anna turned around and turned the burner off before looking back at her brother.

“How do I go about getting a job? I’ve never really had one before.” Phil stated.

“You’ve gone on plenty of interviews, Phil. You’ve just never stuck around a job long enough to know what it’s all about.” Anna sighed.

“All the jobs I’ve had were boring. I didn’t want to stay there.”

“My job is boring too, but it’s a paycheck that pays for his house and food and clothes and everything else Anna and I need.” Matt explained.

Phil rubbed the back of his neck. “Oh. So, I guess that’s why Ashley broke up with me and took the apartment, huh?”

Anna nodded. “She couldn’t count on you.”

Matt took his laptop off the kitchen table and handed it to Phil. “Use this and search for a job. I want to sit down with you tonight with at least five job options and we’ll work together to submit your resume.”

Phil took the laptop and nodded. He left the room without another word.

“I’m sorry.” Anna muttered.

“Why are you sorry?” Matt asked.

“I didn’t realize he was dumb and actually thought we were going to let him freeload from us for the rest of his life.” Anna explained.

Matt put his hands in his pockets and raised his shoulders. “Well, all we can do now is help steer him in the right direction. He’ll be fine and so will we.” He kissed Anna on the cheek.

Anna smiled at him. She strained the pasta over the sink and dumped it back into the pot. “Can you get the milk, please?”

“You mean the one that has your brother’s germs all over it?” Matt grunted. He opened the fridge and picked up the carton. He let out a sigh.

“What’s wrong?” Anna asked.

Matt tossed the milk into the trash. “It’s empty.” He grabbed his car keys. “I’ll be back… do we need anything else other than milk?”

“Pop-Tarts?” Anna said sheepishly.

Matt shook his head. “No, I hid those from him.”

“Yeah… he found them.”

Matt sighed. “I’ll be back…”

Words: 1,304

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Short Story Sunday 272: Part

Short Story Sunday: Part | Creative Writing | Short Story | Flash Fiction | RachelPoli.com

Violet sat down at the kitchen table and opened her laptop. She typed in, “part one” in a Word document and then stared at the blinking cursor. She glanced at the digital clock in the bottom right corner of her computer screen before looking back at the project she was just about to work on. Ben was supposed to arrive at her house any minute now. He was actually supposed to be there about a half hour ago. She hoped he remembered they were supposed to work on the project together today.

They had to write a three-act play for their English class. Their teacher wanted the plays to be in various voices but she also wanted the kids to work together and co-author a piece together so that they could incorporate their own ideas and own voices and yet try to compromise and make it seem like the play was written by one person.

None of it made any sense to Violet and she knew well enough that Ben didn’t care too much for the project – or the class in general – so she knew this was going to be pulling teeth.

They were only allowed to work in groups of two because their teacher wanted them to write the first act of the play together – their shared voices – and then one needed to write the second act of the play. Once that was done, the other partner needed to write the third act, the ending, of the play. They had three weeks to do this which meant they had a week to do each part. Violet knew Ben was going to do his last minute, so she had decided to work on the first act of the play together right after school (the project was just assigned today) and then she would write the second act as quickly as possible. That would give Ben about two weeks or so to get the third act written. It would be out of Violet’s hands and she wouldn’t have to wait for him to do his part in case she needed to write the ending.

Violet didn’t even want to work with Ben in the first place. Their English teacher was nice this time around and actually let them pick their partners for the project. Unfortunately for Violet, she only had two other friends in her English class and they had decided to work together leaving Violet to fend for herself and pick a different partner. Ben was in the same boat. He had four good friends in the class but they had paired off with one another. Ben sat behind Violet in class and their teacher noticed neither of them were sitting with a partner, she assumed the two of them had partnered up.

“Violet?”

She looked up from her computer hearing Ben’s piercing voice come from the other room. She hoped this wasn’t going to take them long. “I’m in the kitchen.” She realized Ben had never been over her house before but she hoped he’d be able to find his way around. The house wasn’t that big.

Ben entered the kitchen. He didn’t have anything with him. He sat down at the kitchen table and smirked at her. “Hi.”

“Hi.”

“So, what are we doing?” he asked.

“Did you bring anything?” she replied.

“Nope,”

Violet sighed.

“Well, you said you were going to use your laptop and do the typing. All I need to do is help you come up with ideas. So, here I am.” Ben responded with a snort. “You’re lucky I came at all.”

“I wouldn’t have minded doing this whole project myself.” Violet snapped.

Ben sighed. “I know you think I’m annoying, but I also know that grades are important to you. I’ll be nice and do my best to help out. Just don’t yell at me before we’ve even started.”

“You’re 40 minutes late.” Violet said narrowing her eyes.

Ben nodded. “Yes. Yes, I am. I apologize.”

Violet sighed. “Alright, let’s write the first act of the play together. I figured I could do act two and you could do the ending? I can do mine fast and then you can have a lot of time to come up with an ending.”

Ben scoffed. “You don’t think I can hit the deadline?”

Violet hesitated. No, she didn’t think he could, but she didn’t want to tell him that. She didn’t care too much for Ben, but she didn’t want to be rude to him. “I personally think the ending is hardest to come up with. Especially since you won’t know my thoughts for the second act. I just thought it might be easier for you to have a little extra time. Sorry, I didn’t mean anything by it.”

“Nah, it’s fine.” Ben said shifting his weight in his seat. “You’re probably right anyway. I’m late with my homework a lot because I want to do a good job. I just get stuck. Then I put it off and it’s late. Then it doesn’t matter if I do a good job or not. It’s late, so the teacher takes points off or gives me a zero anyway.”

“Really?” Violet asked. “I always thought you just didn’t care and that you hated school.”

He chuckled. “Well, I do hate school. But I still want to get into a good college and stuff. I don’t know how well I’ll do in college, but…”

“But you’ll try.” Violet finished with a smile.

“Yeah,” Ben shrugged.

“Do you have any ideas for what our play could be about?” Violet asked slightly changing the subject.

Ben shook his head. “I haven’t the foggiest… is there a special topic we’re supposed to write about?”

“No, it can be about anything we want.” Violet said.

“Then I got nothing.”

“Well, I have the perfect idea.” She grinned and began to write.

“What is it?” Ben stood up and looked over her shoulder. Violet continued to type away and Ben grunted.

“You’re seriously writing a play about high school students… that’s so cliché.”

“I don’t care, it’s going to be great.” Violet chuckled. “And we’re going to give you a happy ending.”

Words: 1,029

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Short Story Sunday 271: Expect

Short Story Sunday: Expect | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | Short Story | RachelPoli.com

“What do you expect from me?” Tanya asked. She placed her books on the surface of her desk but didn’t sit down in her seat. Tanya had agreed with her parents she’d go to a community college and get her two-year degree. After that, it would be her choice to continue school or not. That was good enough for her parents as long as she had a degree to show for it. The thing was, she already had a good job. Tanya had been working there for two years, since she was sixteen. She didn’t have a degree and she was doing just fine there.

“I expect you to be on time,” Her professor replied. She stood in the front do the class with her hands on her hips. She sighed in disgust and pointed to Tanya’s seat. “I’d like to speak to you after class. You can sit for now and join us.”

Tanya shrugged and took her seat. She knew exactly what Professor White was going to say to her after class. Tanya would say the same thing to her and then the next time she had class, it was going to happen all over again.

Tanya didn’t want to mess up her work schedule because of school, so she had to decided to take online classes. This particular class, however, wasn’t offered online. So, she took the night class. However, by the time she got out of work there was a lot of traffic and the school was 45 minutes away from her job. So, she was usually about ten minutes late to class.

The first time she was late, she apologized to her professor and said she couldn’t guarantee it wouldn’t happen again. She always rushed out of work and tried her best to be on time, but she couldn’t clear the traffic out of her way. Her professor shouldn’t have even cared anyway. She was still getting paid, Tanya was still forking over thousands of dollars to the school. She had an A in the class, so she didn’t understand what the big deal was.

Tanya’s desk was the first one by the door and she always discretely entered and sat down quietly and did her best to catch up with whatever the rest of the class was doing. Professor White always made a scene and complained about how Tanya was disrupting the class thus taking away some learning moments from her classmates when it was, in fact, Professor White who always had to make a big stink out of Tanya quietly entering the room.

The rest of the class went on smoothly. Tanya kept her mouth shut and only answered questions when her professor called on her. Professor White was always impressed with her answers and never treated her differently throughout the class. It was as though nothing as ever happened at the beginning of class. Tanya knew, though, come the end, as soon as her classmates had all left, Professor White would put on her stern face.

Tanya beat her to the punch this time though.

“Listen,” she began to explain as soon as the last kid exited the room, “The class is an hour and a half long. I don’t think being late by ten minutes is such an issue. I’m close to the door so that when I enter, I’m not walking in front or around my classmates and I’m always quiet when I come in. I never ask where we are or what we’re doing I just listen and catch up on my own. I personally don’t think I disrupt the class, but you always have to say something which breaks the class up.”

Tanya drew in a breath. She had meant to keep that last part to herself. Now she was really in for it.

Professor White folded her arms over her chest and nodded. “Go on, I have a feeling you’re not finished yet.”

“Well,” Tanya swallowed, “I have work before class started and it’s 45 minutes away. This class starts at seven and there’s a lot of traffic. I’m not trying to come up with excuses, but it’s true. I can’t control the traffic and I’ve tried to leave work a little early, but it’s not possible sometimes. I’m sure you know that feeling. Unless it’s for something really important, you can’t leave class early, right?”

Professor White nodded her head again. “You’re not wrong. But you don’t think this class is something truly important for you?”

“No, sorry,” Tanya shook her head. “I didn’t even want to go to school but my parents wanted me to get a degree. The truth is, I already have a really good job and I love what I do. But I respect my parents and their wishes and compromised with them to come here. Even though I don’t care about it, I still do my best. I have an A in this class. I do all my homework and do well on the tests. So being ten minutes late feels like it shouldn’t be a big deal.”

Tanya breathed in and held it. She had psyched herself up all class to explain all this to her professor. This time she was brutally honest. However, she wasn’t sure how this was going to work in her favor though.

Finally, Professor White closed her eyes and lifted her shoulders. “I only want my students to work to the best of their ability. I feel like you could do a lot more with the extra ten minutes, but you bring up good points. You are doing really well in the class and, if I’m allowed to say so, you’re actually ahead of everyone else.”

Tanya smiled. That might not have been the right move to make, but hey, she was proud of herself.

“College is meant to prepare you for the real world and for work. It sounds to me as though you already have that figured out. I just hope you realize there’s room to change your mind and if you do, there’s nothing wrong with that.” Professor White explained.

Tanya nodded. “Yes, I know that. I’ve got a good thing going on right now though so I’m gonna take it and hold onto it for as long as I can.”

Professor White smiled but she didn’t say anything else.

“So… are we good?” Tanya asked.

“Yes, I think we are. I’m glad we got this sorted out.”

“Thank you.” Tanya picked up her books and left the room. This was the nicest conversation she had with her professor and she was glad Professor White seemed understanding this time around. However, they had this conversation so often that she wasn’t sure if her professor would forget all about this come their next class in two days.

Tanya was just going to have to wait and see what happens.

Words: 1,198

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Short Story Sunday 270: Recording

Short Story Sunday: Recording | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

“Are you ready to get started?” Finn asked. He craned his neck to look around the camera and tripod that blocked most of his view. Charlotte stood on the other side with a tissue in hand waiting for yet another sneeze to come out.

“Hold on,” Charlotte answered. She blew her nose.

Finn sighed and adjusted the camera once more. “You wanted to get this whole video shot today, right?”

“I didn’t expect to wake up with a cold.” Charlotte countered. She rolled her eyes at him and breathed heavily through her mouth. Now her nose was all blocked up and the sneeze still wouldn’t come out.

“Why don’t we post-pone the shoot, then? We’ll see how you feel tomorrow or we can wait until next week to get it done.” Finn suggested. He turned the camera off so not to waste any more of the battery. They had done a couple of shots throughout the day but it’s been slow and Finn worried his second battery would die while the other was still charging. Then they really wouldn’t be able to get any shoots done.

“No,” Charlotte said sternly. She tossed her tissue into the trash and fixed her hair. “No, I can do this. We’ve already stopped this shoot once before. I don’t want to put it off any longer.”

“There was a blizzard last week. That couldn’t be helped. Now you’re sick. Do you realize how difficult it’s going to be to auto-tune your clogged voice from your sinuses?” Finn sighed. He walked around the other side of the camera and sat down on the couch. “Your viewers will understand why the video is late.”

Charlotte too let out a heavy sigh and sat down on the couch beside him. “I appreciate you Finn, really. I do. I know you mean well and you want what’s best for me, our viewers, and the channel.”

“Your viewers.”

“Our viewers.” She corrected. “Just because you’re not on camera doesn’t mean you’re not part of this project. This channel wouldn’t have happened without you. You’re my camera man and editor. I don’t know what’d I do without you.”

Finn chuckled. “You did just fine on your own. You started the channel yourself and did everything yourself. You only wanted to upgrade the quality and make things a little easier on yourself, which was why you hired me in the first place. I’m just a helper, that’s all. But I do care about the channel and you.”

Charlotte shook her head. “Finn, stop. I used to do it all myself but I still only have half the knowledge you do when it comes to editing. You cloned me in the last video. That’s crazy how you did that.”

“It’s just a couple of buttons and good timing, that’s all.” Finn shrugged. He turned the other way beginning to feel a little embarrassed.

He had always wanted to be a video editor or a film maker. It was his dream but it was tough for him to get a job in the field without moving out of state. His mother was sick and couldn’t work so he had decided to stay and work a dull job in order to take care of his family.

Charlotte was a video channel he watched often. He loved watching other people work, edit, and create movie magic and he would try to imitate them to hone and improve his own editing skills. Finn went onto social media one day and noticed a post from Charlotte. She was looking for a video editor.

He applied, he interviewed in person with her, and she gave him the job. It started off with him editing just two videos a week for her while she did everything else. But as her channel grew, she needed more and more help. Finn offered to help for more money instead of her hiring another person. Charlotte loved his work and enjoyed the type of editing he did on her videos as well as him putting his own personality into it, that she agreed to let him do more.

Now Finn was her cameraman for every video she shot and also edited every single video they did together. All Charlotte had to do was take care of the analytics, write her own scripts, act, and promote the channel. They were a good team and things were going well.

“Sometimes,” Finn said, “you can be a workaholic. I know the channel is important to you and it’s your love. It’s your work, your life. I also know we’re trying to get a backlog of videos to start posting on the channel daily, but maybe that’s a goal that we need a later deadline for. There’s two more months until the new year, why don’t we surprise your viewers with a daily video starting on the new year?”

Charlotte nodded her head as he spoke to her. She glanced up at the ceiling deep in thought from his last statement. Then she grinned. “That actually sounds like a great idea. That’ll give us more time to get everything together.”

“And we can take a break for the rest of the week while you feel better and get over this cold.” Finn added.

“The rest of the week?” Charlotte pouted.

“Today’s Thursday and we take the weekends off. I think you can manage the rest of today and tomorrow to just chill and relax. Maybe you can brainstorm some new video ideas and get started on a couple new scripts.” Finn suggested. “You know, while you’re resting on the couch.”

Charlotte grinned. “Okay, that sounds like a good idea. I don’t think I’m going to convince you otherwise…” she sneezed. Charlotte pumped her fists in the air. “I finally sneezed!”

“Bless you,” Finn chuckled.

Words: 967

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Short Story Sunday 269: Dome

Short Story Sunday: Dome | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

“How do you think they can stand being in there all the time?” Tom asked.

Angela shrugged. “That’s all they know. They don’t know what it’s like to not be inside their dome.”

Tom frowned. He poked the glass and Angela swatted his hands away.

“You’re going to scare the fish if you do that. It hurts their ears.” She said.

“They have ears?” Tom said in wonderment. He turned his attention back to the goldfish with wide eyes.

“Everyone has ears.” Angela replied. “Now, did we come here for a fish or not?”

Tom put his index finger to his chin. He paced in front of the various tanks that were before him. When he made it to the saltwater fish, his mother called him back.

“We don’t have a saltwater tank, we set it up for freshwater. You have to get anyone of these.” She said.

Tom, without responding, walked away from staring at a starfish and moseyed back over to the freshwater tanks. There were guppies, tetras, platies, goldfish, and so much more. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to get.

“Are you stuck?” Angela asked. “Can I make some suggestions?”

Tom nodded and looked up at his mother.

“Our tank already has tetras and platies in it. Should we get a couple more so they fit in? We have red platies and orange platies. But look, here are some yellow platies.” Angela said pointing to one of the Platy tanks.

Tom grinned. “Yes! How many red guys do we have and how many orange guys do we have?”

“I think we have three of each.”

“Then get three yellow guys.”

“Sounds good,” Angela said. She called over a worker at the pet store and they came over. As the worker scooped out three yellow platies, Tom looked at the rest of the fish.

“We only have two neon tetras and two black neon tetras. You know, tetras are schooling fish. Should we get a couple more of those?” Angela suggested.

“Yes!” Tom said giddily.

Angela smiled at the worker. “Two neon tetras and two black neon tetras, please.”

“And this goldfish!” Tom exclaimed.

“What?” Angela asked.

“There’s a goldfish in this tank that I want.”

Angela peered into the fantail goldfish tank. There were only five fish in there and they all looked the same except for one. “Which one did you want?” she asked cautiously.

“The one with only one eye.” Tom stated with a proud smile.

“Are you sure?” Angela asked.

“Yep,”

“Okay, then.” Angela turned to the worker. “Can we also get the goldfish with one eye?”

“That fish probably won’t live very long.” The worker warned.

“That’s okay.” Tom said pressing his face against the goldfish tank. “We’ll give him a good home so he can be happy before he goes!”

The worker chuckled. “It’s only a fish.”

Tom frowned at her. “And you’re only a human, but people care about you.”

Angela pressed her lips together. She tried not to laugh as the worker scooped the one-eyed goldfish out of its tank. She didn’t want to in front of the worker, as her face had turned a nice shade of red, but Angela would remember to give her son a fist-bump when they got in the car.

Words: 546

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Short Story Sunday 268: Tell Me

Short Story Sunday: Tell Me | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

“Tell you a story?” Vinny repeated. He tilted his face to the ceiling and hummed to himself.

“Come on, Grandpa, please?” Lily begged. She sat up in her bed folding her hands together jutting her bottom lip out into a pout.

“Once upon a time,” Vinny began, “there was a little girl named Lily who refused to go to sleep.”

“No, a real story!” Lily protested through her giggles.

“That is a real story. You’re Lily, you’re a little girl, and you won’t go to sleep for me. What’s your mother and father going to think when they come home to see their six-year-old still awake at such an hour?” Vinny replied.

“You know what I mean, Grandpa.”

“Alright, alright, lie down.” Vinny said giving Lily a gentle push. She fell back onto her pillow laughing.

Vinny cleared his throat. “Once upon a time there was a young girl name Lily.”

“Grandpa…”

“Hush, I’m telling a story.” Vinny said then hummed to himself again. “She lived in a large castle where she could roam around and do anything she ever wanted. She could play with her toys all day long–”

“And never have to go to school?!” Lily said excitedly jumping up in her bed again.

“Sure, she never had to go to school,” Vinny agreed pushing her back down. “One day, however, she became bored.”

Lily gasped.

“Lily didn’t have anyone to play with because she never attended school. She had no friends.” Vinny said stumbling through his words. He hoped his granddaughter couldn’t tell that he was making this up by the seat of his pants – especially since he used her idea against her.

“I have friends.” Lily protested.

“Not in this story, you don’t.” Vinny countered. “So, Lily was bored one day, you see. She didn’t want to play with any of her toys and she had already eaten too much ice cream. There was nothing good on TV and she didn’t have anyone around to keep her company.”

“What about Mom and Dad?” Lily asked.

“They’re at work.”

“What about you?”

“I’m at work.”

“You don’t work.”

“This is fiction, Lily, keep up.” Vinny sighed. “Anyway, where was I?”

“Grandpa?” Lily asked.

“What?”

“Am I going to have no friends when I grow up because I’m not going to school?” she wondered aloud.

Vinny took a minute to think about how to answer that one. Lily had come down with a case of pneumonia and was out of her first-grade class for a month. While she still had a bit of a cough, she was well enough to go back to school. She had gotten so comfortable staying home and playing with him and her parents in the beginning that she never wanted to go back to school ever again. Lily didn’t understand why she couldn’t stay home all the time and play with her parents and grandparents.

“Maybe,” Vinny replied. He knew it was a harsh answer for such a young kid, but he didn’t know what else to say to her. At least he didn’t bluntly agree with her.

Lily sighed. “So, I should go back to school?”

“Do you want to make friends? Do you want to be able to play with your friends and invite them over and such?” Vinny asked.”

“Yeah,”

“Then you should go back to school.” Vinny stated matter-of-factly. “I think going back to school sounds like a wonderful idea.”

“Okay, okay,” Lily said. She snuggled up with her stuffed animal rolling over onto her side. She closed her eyes and breathed gently. “I’ll go back to school.”

“Great.” Vinny smiled rubbing her back.

“I can’t wait to see my friends tomorrow.” Lily muttered. She was smiling though her eyes were still closed and it was obvious to Vinny that she was drifting off to sleep.

“Tomorrow?” he repeated.

“Yeah, I can’t wait to go to school tomorrow and see all my friends.”

Vinny stood up and slowly backed out of her bedroom. He opened the door and stepped out into the hall as Lily’s breathing got into a steady rhythm. He didn’t have the heart the tell her tomorrow was Saturday. Her parents could deal with that one in the morning.

Words: 704

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Short Story Sunday 266: Thoughtful (Part Four)

Short Story Sunday: Thoughtful | Short Story | Flash Fiction | Mystery | Mystery Writing | Mystery Month | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Lilah found herself leaning against the one-way mirror staring into the interrogation room. Beth Wiley sat at the metal table, her back facing the mirror. Her shoulders were shaking and her elbows were propped on the table. Lilah knew well enough Beth was bawling her eyes out. Whether she was crying because she was nervous that she had been caught or it was an act, she wasn’t sure.

“Have you talked to her yet?” George asked.

Barney shook his head. “She was hesitant to come with us when we found her wandering the side of the road. She didn’t fight us at all, she was just in a daze. It was almost like she didn’t know why we were picking on her.”

Lilah kept a steady gaze on Beth while she listened in on George’s conversation with his brother.

“She was scrawny too.” Barney continued. “I know she’s been missing for a couple of days and didn’t take anything with her, not even her wallet. I don’t think she’s eaten at all. After we explained to her that we found her car, we brought her back here. We tossed her into the interrogation room and fed her lunch. Her husband is on his way. Once he arrives, we’ll figure out what to do.”

“Did you mention to her about the body?” George asked.

Barney sighed.

Lilah wasn’t facing them but she had a feeling that sigh was a no. She thought that might have been why Beth was crying so much, but maybe it was just because she was scared.

“Did you tell Richard about the body?” George asked.

“No,” Barney replied. “I figured the less he knew before he got here, the better.”

A knock at the door came. Lilah and George looked at each as Barney pushed past his little brother and opened the door. An officer had brought Richard into the room.

Richard looked horrified as he entered. He jumped when the officer closed the door behind him. He wrung his hands together and swallowed without saying a word.

“Thanks for coming here, Richard.” Barney said. He led him over further into the small room and pointed through the mirror.

Richard saw his wife and frowned. “Thank you for finding my wife. Can I go in and see her?”

“Not yet,” Barney shook his head. “We need to talk to her first. Is it okay if we speak to her and ask her some questions or would you like a lawyer present?”

“Should I have a lawyer present?” Richard asked. He turned to George for help, but he just shrugged in response.

“There was a body in the car. Unless you think Beth might have had something to do with it, it might be wise to get a lawyer.” George explained.

Lilah noticed a quick glare from Barney to George. She saw George shift his gaze to his brother but he didn’t fully acknowledge him.

Richard drew in a breath. He turned his head to look at his wife again shaking his head. “No, Beth didn’t do anything. There’s no way she killed a man and tried to hide the body.”

George bowed his head to Barney. “And there you have it.”

“Alright, here I go.” Barney said. He opened the door and then paused to look over his shoulder. “Richard, I’ll ask her a few questions and then I’ll call you in to join us, okay?”

Richard nodded and Barney disappeared. He turned back to George. “I guess you’re off the hook, huh?”

“Excuse me?” George replied. Lilah stiffened pushing herself off the mirror on the wall. She narrowed her eyes at Richard. Whatever he meant was probably harmless, but his tone didn’t sound it.

“The police found my wife. I hired you to do that and you didn’t.” Richard explained.

Lilah looked at George wondering how he’d respond to that, but Barney began talking on the other side of the wall. Immediately, all their attentions were shifted to the mirror.

“How are you doing, Beth?” Barney asked. He handed her a couple of tissues and she took them willingly. Then he sat down and casually leaned back in his chair. “Do you understand what’s going on?”

“No,” Beth said over her sniffles.

“Your husband reported you missing. You were gone for about three days before we found your car abandoned and hidden in the woods and you wandering around the streets not too far from Simmond’s Park.” Barney explained. “Can you tell me where you went for three days or why you left?”

Beth shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t want to say anything. I don’t want to get into any trouble.”

“Why would you get into trouble?”

“I don’t know, I just have a feeling I did something bad. Is my husband okay?”

Barney nodded. “Richard is fine, yes. He’s worried about you.”

Beth sniffled again. She picked up a tissue and blew her nose. “I didn’t know what else to do. I was confused and I couldn’t get away so I thought I’d run away. Maybe then I’d lose him and Richard and I could be safe.”

“Lose who?” Barney inquired leaning closer to her.

“I wish I knew…”

Lilah glanced over at George and she noticed he was staring at Richard. Richard watched Beth carefully, unblinking. She couldn’t read the expression on his face though. He certainly wasn’t worried and it didn’t seem like he was concerned for whatever his wife was going through. What happened to the caring, open, and honest man who they met in their office just a few hours ago?

“Does your husband know about any of this?” Barney asked.

“No,” Beth said. She buried her face in her hands and sobbed more. “I’ve never lied to him before!”

Barney looked up into the mirror and frowned. Lilah knew he was looking at them even though he couldn’t see where they stood. She sighed and looked to George.

“Should you go help him?” she asked.

“He knows what he’s doing.” George replied.

“Beth, maybe your husband should be here when I tell you this news.” Barney said.

Beth looked up hopeful. “My husband is here?”

“Yes,” Barney said. He waved to the mirror.

George took the cue. He opened the door for Richard and pointed to a closed door on the outside. “Just go through there.” He said.

Richard did without a word or even bothering to look at George.

George closed the door. He walked back over to the mirror and folded his arms over his chest as he watched Richard embraced his sobbing wife. “I have some suspicions.” He said.

Lilah turned to him. “What do you mean?”

“This Richard isn’t the man we met a few hours ago.” George stated.

Lilah let out a breath of relief. “Okay, I thought so too. I think there’s something strange about him. But do you think it could be because he’s nervous for his wife?”

“I think he’s nervous, but not because of her.” George countered. “He seems less concerned for his wife and the he rubbed me the wrong way when he said we were off the hook.”

“Well, yeah. That rubbed me the wrong way too. This means we’re not going to get paid.” Lilah said with a huff.

“It means, his job is done.” George said narrowing his eyes at Richard through the mirror. Richard was still holding Beth and rubbing her back. Barney, on the other hand, was leaning back in his chair waiting them out.

“I’m confused.” Lilah sighed. “What did you figure out?”

“Richard was searching for Beth not because she’s his wife but maybe because he was afraid of what she would do and who she would talk to.” George stated.

Lilah opened her mouth and then closed it shaking her head. “I’m not sure I’m following you, George. Stop being so cryptic.”

“I bluntly told him there was a dead body in the trunk of his wife’s car and he didn’t even flinch.” George stated. He turned to look at Lilah. “That was the first he heard of the body. Barney said he didn’t tell him.”

“Maybe he was just in shock?” Lilah suggested.

“But then when I asked him about a lawyer, he refused and said there was no way Beth could kill a man. There’s no way Richard should have known the body was a male.”

“Okay, I see what you mean… but maybe he just said man in a general sense? Besides, I assume you’re suggesting Richard killed the man? If that’s true, then why would he refuse the lawyer?”

“Are we ready to get started?” Barney asked.

Lilah’s attention was brought back to inside the interrogation room. Both Richard and Beth had nodded to him.

“Because,” George said, “Richard is too confident. Everything points to Beth and he believes she’ll take the fall.”

Words: 1,476

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Short Story Sunday 265: Card (Part Three)

Short Story Sunday: Card | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Mystery | Mystery Writing | Mystery Month | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Lilah sat behind George’s desk. She leaned back in the chair, propping her feet on the surface of his desk, and swiveled back and forth. She pouted her lips together deep in thought at the meeting they just had with Richard Wiley. His wife, Beth, had been acting strangely for a few weeks before she disappeared without a trace only taking her keys and car with her. What was really strange was that she had called George the week before but never gave any information on what was bothering her.

“What are you doing? Get your feet off my desk.” George said exasperated. He broke Lilah out of her thoughts as he entered the office once more.

Lilah put her feet back to the floor and sat forward propping her elbows on the desk now. “Did Richard have anything else to say?”

George sat down in the client’s chair, much to Lilah’s surprise. She had expected him to kick her out of his seat.

“Well,” he said, “we’ve officially been hired for a case.”

Lilah didn’t smile. “That’s good, I guess.”

George scratched the top of his head. “I’m glad we have work to do, but I feel so uneasy about this particular case. Things aren’t adding up.”

“They’re not supposed to add up. Not right now, anyway.” Lilah stated. She shivered. She was beginning to sound like George. Maybe she shouldn’t have been sitting in his chair after all.

“I know, but usually cases are odd. This one seems more so. I don’t know, I just have a bad feeling.” George answered.

Lilah sighed. “I know what you mean. This is certainly a strange one with both of them calling us… I wonder what Beth wanted from us.”

“She most likely wanted help about whatever is spooking her. Though it was enough for her to run away.” George said.

“Or maybe she took matters into her own hands.” Lilah suggested.

George looked up at her and she shrugged in response. She could tell by the raised eyebrows that George hadn’t thought of that possibility, but he certainly was now.

“Did Richard call the police?” Lilah asked. When George walked their new client to the front door, they stood in the hallway talking for some time. Lilah realized they had forgotten to ask him one of the most important questions – did he call the police already?

George nodded. “I asked him. He called 24 hours after he had no contact from his wife and still had no idea about her whereabouts. He knew the police would give him the run around so he waited until the time was right to call. Also, he was just holding out hoping that Beth would come home. He said he thought she might have just needed some space and went to the spa or something.”

“There are spas around here?” Lilah asked. She wanted one.

“Not that I know of, no.”

“Oh,”

“So, the police are on the case. They’re looking for Beth Wiley and her bright blue Honda.” George rattled off the license plate number he had written down on the sticky note beside her name.

Lilah perked up. “Barney must know then, right? Can we give him a call?”

George scrunched up his face and shook his head. “I don’t want to call my brother about this. Not now, anyway. We’ve barely begun the investigation.”

“Maybe Barney is the beginning of our investigation though. He might know more about Richard than we do. Richard might have given the police more information than he gave us.” Lilah explained.

“I doubt that. Richard wouldn’t have hired us if he didn’t include all the information. I don’t believe so, at least. Besides, Barney isn’t going to share any information with us about it now. Maybe not ever.” George countered.

Lilah sighed. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

They sat in silence for a moment. Lilah watched George carefully as he picked at a loose thread in the upholstery of the chair. Lilah remained deep in thought about the case. She certainly wanted to know more about Beth and also this Richard guy. Even though he was their client, she wondered if they were able to truth him. She glanced back at George again. She also wanted to know what was going on in his mind.

Then the phone rang.

Lilah leaned forward to look at the caller ID. She stood up from her chair and motioned for George to sit in his own seat. “Speak of the devil.”

George stood taking her offer. He switched seats with Lilah picking up the phone as he sat down. “Barney?”

“Speaker,” Lilah whispered. There was no way she was going to be left out of this conversation.

George, for once, obeyed. He pushed the speaker button on the phone and set it down on the receiver.

“George, how are you?” Barney asked.

“I’m fine, how are you?” George replied. He gave Lilah a strange look. She felt just as weirded out as he did. What were the odds of Barney calling them when they were just talking about him?

“I’m on a case, so I’m as fine as I can be.” Barney replied. “Listen,” he continued before George could respond, “I need to talk to you. Are you free to come down to the station sometime today?”

Lilah raised both her eyebrows. Barney’s tone was different. He had his cop voice on that was for sure. Usually he was a little different with George though.

“I guess so, if you really need me to. What’s going on?” George asked.

“I’m at Simmond’s Park in the woods. We got a call from a concerned parent. There’s a car parked in the woods with branches and tarp covering it. The parent who called it in thought someone was sitting in the car watching the kids on the playground. There’s no one in the car though. The owner definitely wanted to hide it, but we’re not sure if it’s been abandoned or if they’ll be back.” Barney explained.

Lilah pressed her lips together. She suddenly felt warm and had a very good feeling as to what was about to happen next. Why Barney needed to talk to them about it, she wasn’t sure. It didn’t seem like they had found Beth, so how did Barney know they were connected somehow?

“Let me guess… blue Honda?” George asked before he mentioned the license plate.

“So, you do know the car.” Barney replied his tone hinting confirmation.

“I have knowledge of the car’s existence. I don’t know it though. Why did you call me about this?” George asked.

“George, your business card was in the front cup holder.” Barney stated.

Lilah’s eyes grew and she looked at George who stared back at her in confusion.

“We ran the plates,” Barney continued, “and this vehicle is registered to a Bethany Wiley. Whether she was the one who drove the car here and hid it, is a mystery, but there’s no report of it being stolen. Do you know Bethany?”

“Not personally,”

“What does that mean?”

George pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’ve never met the woman, though I spoke to her over the phone once last week. I have no idea how she got my business card.”

“Do you know that her husband, Richard Wiley, had reported her missing?” Barney asked.

“Lilah and I have just had the pleasure of meeting Richard.” George answered.

“Where is he?”

“He just left my office about ten minutes before you called.”

Barney sighed. “I’ll have to call him soon…”

Lilah piped up. “This is more about the car, isn’t it? What else is going on?”

“Am I on speaker?” Barney asked.

“Of course,” Lilah grinned.

Barney grunted before explaining further. “There was a body of an adult male in the trunk.”

Words: 1,304

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Short Story Sunday 264: Disappoint (Part Two)

Short Story Sunday: Disappoint | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Creative Writing | Mystery Month | Mystery Writing | Mystery | RachelPoli.com

Lilah was the one who let Richard into the building. They had their polite greetings – Richard was somber and Lilah attempted to be her usual perky self, but she knew something was terribly wrong. She led him down the hallway to George’s office in silence. She had left the door open and George saw them coming. He stood, buttoning his suit jacket as he walked around to the other side of his desk, and stuck out a hand for Richard. He took it, they dipped their heads as Lilah always saw men do, and then they took their seats. George at his desk, Richard in the client’s chair, and Lilah beside George.

“Thank you for seeing me on such short notice.” Richard began.

“Of course. I’m glad we had an opening.” George replied cracking a small smile.

Lilah wanted to mention they’ve had plenty of openings lately, but she knew well enough when to bite her tongue.

“So, uh, do I just start explaining?” Richard asked. “I’m sorry, I’ve never had to do this before.”

“No worries. Starting at the beginning is helpful, but tell us what you like and take your time. There’s no rush.” George said soothingly.

“Well,” Richard cleared his throat and shifted his weight in his chair, “I don’t really know where to begin, actually… my wife, Beth, she started acting strange a couple weeks ago.”

“Can you be a little more specific than a couple of weeks, please?” George interrupted. He opened his notepad and began scribbling down what Richard dictated.

Richard turned his chin to the ceiling. “Three weeks? I had gone away on a business trip and the day I came home she was acting strange. I had thought she was having an affair. I honestly thought there was a man inside my closet or something and she was nervous I’d find him. I didn’t think she’d ever do anything like that though. We’re very open and honest with one another so I felt comfortable asking her about it.”

Lilah’s draw dropped. “You mean to say you just asked your wife up front if she was cheating on you?”

“Yes,” Richard said matter-of-factly. “Everyone should feel comfortable talking to their partner about anything and everything.” He sighed. “Which is why I don’t understand why she would keep secrets and then disappear into thin air.”

“Wait a minute,” George held up a finger, “has this talk about anything and everything thing mutual between the two of you? Or would you say you’re more of the talker and feelings one in the relationship?”

“Mutual,”

“So, how did she react when you asked if she was cheating on you?”

“It was weird,” Richard began, “she laughed. It wasn’t the kind of laugh where she thought of question was ridiculous or the kind of laugh that’s nervous as she tries to cover it up. Her laughing was filled with relief. It was almost as though she thought I was going to accuse her of something else.”

“Do you know what that something else could be?” Lilah questioned.

“No idea,” Richard shook his head.

George drew in a sharp breath. “So, what did you mean when you said she disappeared into thin air?”

“She vanished.” Richard said, his solemn gaze at the ground. “I woke up one morning and she wasn’t in bed. I thought she had to go into work early so I drove by her work to bring her a coffee. On my way there, I got a phone call from her boss. Beth never showed up to work and never even called. They had called her cell phone a couple of times but she didn’t answer. I lied to Beth’s boss. I told her Beth was sick.” Richard paused. He closed his eyes. “I didn’t want to lie but I didn’t want them to think something was wrong. I didn’t think anything was wrong at the time.”

“It’s okay, I would have done the same thing.” Lilah said quietly. George glanced at her and she shrugged. She felt awkward and wanted him to feel better. She didn’t want him thinking this was his fault, but what did she know? Maybe it was his fault and he either didn’t see it or he was lying to them as well.

“When did you wake up and Beth was gone?” George asked.

“Three days ago.”

“She had been acting strange for nearly three weeks, you didn’t do or say anything about it other than asking about a possible affair, and then she just got up without a trace?” George rehashed.

Richard nodded. “I went back home and found all her things including her wallet and phone. Her car and keys were gone, that’s it. She didn’t take anything.

“And I did ask her what was wrong occasionally. She wouldn’t tell me. She asked for space and said she’d tell me when she was ready. So, I stopped asking. I wanted to respect her request.”

“That was nice of you.” Lilah piped up.

“But now your wife is missing so maybe not so much?” George said bluntly. Lilah elbowed him, but he didn’t so much as flinch.

“Richard,” George leaned forward, “did you know that Beth made a call here a week ago?”

Richard’s head snapped up and he stared at George with wide eyes.

“No, I didn’t think so.” George sighed leaning back into his seat.

“What are you talking about?”

“We knew who Beth was when you called. As soon as you mentioned her name, we remembered her phone call from a week ago.” Lilah explained. “She didn’t give us any information though. She wanted our help but was unsure if we could help.”

“It was almost as though she was at war with herself. She wasn’t sure if calling us was the right thing to do. I asked if she’d come in, but she refused. I told her when she was ready, she was more than welcome to stop by. She said she would think about it and that was it.” George clarified. “She originally called asking if we were taking on more clients but never stated whether she was the one who had interest in hiring us. I wondered if she was calling for you, but obviously that’s not the case.”

Richard remained silent. He turned his gaze to the floor again.

“Now that I think about it, and after hearing your side, I’m sure now. The tone in her voice.” George said cryptically.

“Share with the class, George. There’s no need for secrets.” Lilah deadpanned.

“She was afraid. She was worried about something. Whether she was afraid for herself or for someone else, I’m not sure. It seems as though she ran away, so she must be afraid for herself. She’s scared of something. She disappeared with the intention of not being found.” George explained.

Lilah elbowed him again. She noticed he was staring off into space as he spoke and realized he was getting carried away with his thoughts. Meanwhile, Richard looked like he was about to explode in a waterfall of tears at any second. She was blunt, she knew that much, but George sometimes had no emotional tact.

Her nudge nabbed his attention. George looked up at Lilah in wonderment and she nodded her head to their potential client. When George noticed Richard trying to keep his emotions in check, he sighed.

“Richard, do you need a minute?” he asked. “You can tell us what you’re thinking.”

“I’m…” Richard mumbled something, but Lilah didn’t make out what he said. She leaned forward.

“I’m sorry?” George said leaning forward as well.

Richard lifted his head, his face filled with sorrow. “I’m disappointed.”

“Disappointed?” Lilah repeated in a snarky tone. Now George elbowed her and she waved him away. Disappointed was not the exact emotion she thought Richard would be feeling.

“I’m disappointed because,” Richard sniffled, “Beth felt the need to come to you. Why didn’t she come to me?”

Words: 1,327

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Short Story Sunday 263: Find Me (Part One)

Short Story Sunday: Find Me | Mystery Month | Mystery Writing | Short Story | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Lilah kicked her foot lightly against the bottom of George’s desk making a low thud sound. She slouched all the way back in her chair swinging her leg aimlessly and mindlessly. George peered over his book with every thud, his eyes getting narrower each time.

She let out a huge sigh – she made it bigger and louder than it needed to be. Since George wasn’t paying any attention to her, she needed to emphasize and be a little dramatic in order to get his attention. Her sigh turned into a yawn and she groaned as she did so.

George lowered his book and let out a small sigh of his own. He placed his paper bookmark in his reading spot, closed the book, and gently lay it flat on his desk. He leaned forward with his hands folded on top of the book. “Lilah, did you need my attention for something?”

“I’m bored.”

“Then go read a book or play your video games or clean or something. I’m trying to read here.”

“What are you reading?” Lilah asked.

“Nothing,” George replied sternly. “Lilah, I want peace and quiet.”

She rolled her eyes. “There’s nothing to do though! We’re usually out and about trying to solves cases at this time. I don’t know what to do with myself.”

“You have plenty of things to do.” George said leaning back in his seat. He picked up his book again but didn’t open it. Instead, he stared at Lilah.

She knew exactly what he wanted. “Are you kicking me out of your office?”

George nodded. “I said I want peace and quiet.”

“I’m quit,” Lilah defended herself.

“Sighing over-dramatically and kicking my desk is far from quiet.”

“I’m peace,” Lilah shrugged turning her gaze away.

George deadpanned. “Get out.” He waved his hands shooing her.

Lilah stood up from her chair. She turned her back and headed for the door. When she stood in the middle of the room, she turned back around to face him. “Are you should you don’t want to do anything?”

“I’m sure,”

“Do you want to go out to eat or something?”

“No, thank you,”

“Wanna play a game?”

“Lilah…”

Lilah went boneless and fell to the floor.

“Oh, dear Lord…” George muttered burying his face in his hands.

The room fell silent. Lilah remained on the ground lying on her back, spread-eagle, staring up at the ceiling. She didn’t dare look up at George, though she wondered if he was taking this chance for his peace and quiet since she was silently protesting.

“Lilah, get up.” She heard him say.

“I want a case.” She replied. “I’m bored. We haven’t had a case in a while.”

“I can’t make a case appear out of thin air. Trust me, if I could, I would.” George said with a grunt. “You think I don’t want to have another case? It allows me to pay rent and it makes you less annoying.”

Lilah sat up on the floor. “Didn’t a lady call us about a week ago? What about her?”

George shrugged. “She called, but I don’t know. What about her?” he repeated.

“How come we didn’t take her case?” Lilah asked pushing herself up from the ground. She found her chair on the other side of George’s desk and sat down there.

“I’m not sure. She told me that she might need our services. I asked her to come in and we could discuss the possibility together, but she didn’t want to.” George answered.

“Why not?” Lilah asked.

“Maybe money is tight for her? Maybe she wasn’t sure if she even had a case for us?”

“Then why would she call at all?”

George sighed. “Lilah, I don’t know. I can’t read minds.”

“You should work on that.” She grinned. He glared at her.

“Listen,” George began, “This woman called about a week ago and asked about our services. I told her what we did and she said she might be able to use us. I asked her to come in and we could decide if that’d be the right decision but she hastily refused.”

“Hastily refused? Why do you put it like that?” Lilah asked.

George hesitated to reply. “Because she hastily refused?”

Lilah waved her hand. “Okay, never mind.”

“She seemed troubled, that was for sure. But I can’t help her unless she wants my help.” George explained. “If she hasn’t called back then I’m left to assume she figured out what she needed to on her own or maybe with the help of a friend.”

“For free… without us.” Lilah said dully.

George cracked a smile. “Not everyone needs us to solve their problems.”

“Well, they should.” Lilah pouted.

George pointed to the door and Lilah rolled her eyes. She got the hint. She had lost this battle. She was going to have to find something else to do to entertain herself. She got up and headed for the door. The moment her hand wrapped around the door handle, the phone rang.

She twisted back around and dashed over to George’s desk. “Yay!” she shouted.

“Shush!” George glared at her. He already had the phone in his hand. “George Florence-”

“And Williams,” Lilah quickly added in a whisper.

George glared at her. “Private Detective, how may I help you?”

Lilah stiffened in her seat as George listened to the voice on the other end of the phone. She brought her hand up and began to bite lightly on her nails. She knew it was bad habit, but the last phone call they got – other than that woman – was a telemarketer. She hoped this was an actual case and not a false alarm. Though she wondered if George would have stayed on the phone this long if it was anything else.

“Well, I’m open for another two hours and my afternoon is wide open. You can come in now, if you’d like?” George replied. Then he smiled and a grin grew on Lilah’s face. “That would be great, we’ll see you soon. My pleasure, good bye.” George hung up the phone.

Lilah jumped up from her seat and fist-pumped the air. “We have a case, don’t we?!”

“A potential case, yes, but we haven’t talked to him in person and don’t know all the details. Who knows if he’ll hire us?” George replied.

“It’s a start.” Lilah said sitting back down. “Besides, it at least gives us something to do this afternoon.”

“Yes,”

“Is he on his way over now?”

“Uh-huh,”

Lilah frowned. “You don’t seem enthusiastic about this. What’s wrong? What’d the man say?”

George opened the top right drawer of his desk and rummaged through some papers. “The man, Richard Wiley, called about his wife. She’s missing. She’s been missing for almost a week.”

“And… that bothers you?” Lilah wondered aloud.

“It’s bothers me because,” George pulled out a sticky note and placed it on his desk, the words facing Lilah.

“Beth Wiley?” Lilah read. “Who’s she?”

“Richard’s wife.” George answered.

“How did you…?”

“She’s also the woman who called us last week.”

“Oh,” Lilah said quietly. “Does he know she called us?”

George shook his head. “He didn’t mention it.”

Lilah slouched down in her chair as George leaned back in his own. Both were deep in thought as they awaited the arrival of the missing person’s husband.

Words: 1,224

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