two and a half hours after Laura was supposed to be in Molly’s driveway so the
two could go shopping. She thought that maybe something had happened to Laura’s
phone, and that would explain the unanswered calls. But Molly had been checking
the driveway out the window every ten minutes, and had been calling Laura’s
phone every fifteen. But she got the same message. Hi, it’s Laura, leave me
a message and I will call you as soon as I can.
And the driveway remained emptier as ever.
Molly had made herself a sandwich.
At the very least, if Laura was running very late, it would hold her over. But
she found now that she couldn’t really eat, she had no appetite. The knot in
the pit of her stomach told her something was wrong. Very wrong. Laura barely
ever ran late, and when she did, she always called, texted, something. Two and a half hours without any contact?
Something very weird had happened.
I’m going to go over there. Molly
thought. She had to drive to Laura’s house to see what was going on.
Laura only lived about ten minutes
away, on the Eastern side of Willow Springs. She lived alone some of the time,
but shared custody of two kids with an ex boyfriend. Allen was his name.
Although Laura had the kids with her during the school year, Allen had the kids
during the summers, and since the schools had closed the week before, the kids
went to visit their dad for the Christmas holiday. While Laura and Allen had officially
called it quits, they always got together for Christmas so the whole family
could be together. It made for some awkward moments, but Molly always admired
how strong Laura was for doing it.
Molly had a game plan formulated in
her head. She would drive to Laura’s, do some investigating herself, then if
she didn’t see her, she’d go back home and make some phone calls. Maybe
something came up with her mother, who lived about a half an hour away. Or
maybe with her kids. That had to be it, she thought. Her mom called and decided
to talk her ear off. But for two and half hours?
Molly made her way to the door,
slipping on her gloves and winter coat. She peered outside at the empty
driveway for what must have been the twentieth time. The street was quiet, with
most people on the block being at work. The yards were covered in snow, the
streets and sidewalks icy. Although the temperature was higher now than it had
been in the past week, it was still bitter cold outside. Molly placed her hat
on her head and made her way outside into the garage. It was time to pay
Laura’s home a visit.
While Molly sat behind the wheel of
her car, her hand shook as she struggled to put the key in the ignition. Her
car had had time to get extremely cold after she dropped Mathew off that
morning, and touching the steering wheel felt like grasping a block of ice. But
she was also scared. Molly had always been the Type A personality between the
two friends. Laura was more laid back, going with the flow. Molly let her worry
get the best of her on a few occasions, and often found herself feeling silly
There was a time over the summer
that Mark had been working late. He had been newly promoted and with that
promotion came greater responsibility. Oftentimes he would be at the office
until seven or eight at night. On this particular occassion, Mark was working
late and by nine o’clock Molly was
getting anxious. When several attempts to reach Mark had failed, Molly nearly
lost it. His phone rang and rang but Mark never picked up. At nine-thirty, Mark
walked through the door, apologetic. Caught at the office, he had silenced his
cell and forgot about it.
“Would it have killed you to text me
and let me know?” Molly remembered asking. She still remembered the tingle she
felt in her body, the feeling of her nerves untangling from a tensed up ball.
The sense of relief.
But this time was different. Laura
wasn’t at work, Laura had made plans with her. This was completely
uncharacteristic of her.
Molly’s head was flooding with thoughts
and questions as she backed out of her driveway and drove down the desolate
street. What was she going to find when she got to Laura’s house? She’ll be
on the phone or something, Molly told herself. Something came up.
Molly made a right turn onto Harlington Avenue, one of the
busiest streets in Willow Springs. It ran east and west all the way through the
city. Follow this street to the Eastern side and she’d be at Laura’s in no
time. The traffic wasn’t terrible at this time of day, either.
Fifteen minutes, a hundred thoughts,
and a several deeps breaths to calm down later, Laura was on East Harmin
Street, the street Laura lived on. As she pulled up to Laura’s blue house on
the right, to her dismay, Laura’s car was in the driveway. She wasn’t sure if this
were a good sign or a bad sign. She glanced at the clock on her dashboard. Two
o’clock. What on earth could have held Laura up for three hours?
Molly pulled in behind Laura’s black
car. At this point, she could barely wait any longer and practically jogged to
the side door. It was the door she always used when she came over. She gave the
door three powerful knocks. Then there was silence. She wanted to burst through
the door and see Laura on the phone, but all she could do was wait. Her fast
breathing showed in the cold air in front of her.
Twenty seconds went by. She knocked
again. This time louder. Another twenty seconds and by this time she was
pounding on the door with all her might.
“Laura!” She yelled. Still nothing.
Why would her car be here but not her? She put her gloved hand on the cold door
knob, but it was locked. She decided to go to the front and try that door and
look into the window. She circled the house. She slammed on the front door and
did her best to peer through the glass.
The lights were off, and from what
Molly could see, everything seemed to be in order. But there was no sign of
Laura. Molly gave the door one last bang in desperation. And when still, no one
came to the door, Molly reluctantly returned to her car. She dialed Laura’s
number on her cell phone. No luck. Now, Molly felt her heartbeat increase.
Although it was 20 degrees, she had worked up a sweat and felt warm.
“It’s going to be alright,” Molly
said aloud to herself. “Just stick to the plan. It will be OK.”
Molly slammed the front door behind
her back at her house. She had no idea what to do. She knew she needed to call
people in Laura’s life. But who did she start with? Her children’s dad? Her
mother? The store?
That was it, Molly decided. Was
there some sort of emergency at work? There couldn’t be. If there had been,
Molly would have gotten a phone call at the very least. And she, as a joint
owner would have been notified of the emergency too. It was worth a try though.
She had tried to call Mark on the
ride home, in a frantic hope that he would be able to calm her down. But he
didn’t answer. She knew he was at work but tried to call on the off chance that
he might have some free time.
She thought hard. It was Thursday
afternoon, so Janine should be working at Magic Greetings. Janine was a member of the staff that Molly
had hired. She was in her sixties. A sweet lady, she worked part time and loved
greeting cards. Molly dialed the number to the store and sure enough, Janine
“Hi Janine, it’s Molly,” she said,
unsure of how she was even going to handle this.
“Oh, hi Molly, how are ya?”
“Well, Janine I’m not so good right
now. Is the store busy? Do you have a moment to talk?”
“It’s been slow all day. No one’s
here now. What’s the matter?”
“Tell me is Laura there?”
“No, she isn’t.”
Molly felt her heart drop into her
“Has she been there at all today?”
Molly almost choked on her words, the desperation apparent in her voice.
“No. I opened up at nine and haven’t
seen her at all. Is there something wrong?”
“Well, we were supposed to meet up
earlier but I haven’t heard from her all day either,” Molly explained. “I’ve
called her phone but it’s off or something.”
“Oh no. Well maybe something is
happening with her kids or something, I don’t know.”
“I was really hoping she was there.
Will you call me on my cell phone right away if you hear from her or see her?”
“You bet. Is there anything else I
“I don’t think so, Janine. Just keep
an eye out.”
“I will do that.”
“Thanks Janine. I’ll talk to you
Molly hung up the phone. It seemed
as each minuet passed without a word from Laura, Molly’s heart was beating a
little faster. Laura meant everything to her. She was the sister that Molly
Do I call Allen and make him worry?
Do I call the police?
Molly didn’t have Allen’s number. A
quick google search would give it to her, though, and she did just that.
She dialed the phone, even more
unsure how she should approach the pending conversation. This was the father of
her children. And even though Laura and him argued a lot in the last stages of
their relationship, he still cared for her a great deal. She didn’t want to
create worry if there was no need, but after visiting Laura’s house, she really
felt a need.
The phone rang three times before
Allen picked up.
“Hello?” Molly could hear Laura’s
kids in the background.
“Hi, Allen, this is Molly, Laura’s
“Hi Molly, whats, uh, goin’ on?”
“Well, I’m wondering if you’ve heard
There was a pause.
“Not…since yesterday,” Allen said.
“Yeah, she called to check on the kids yesterday.”
Again, Molly”s heart sank into her
“I see,” Molly said. Here it comes.
She thought. Time to break the bad news. “Allen, I’m a little worried. Laura
and I had plans to have lunch and go shopping today but she never showed up. I
called her over and over, but it went straight to her voice mail.”
Allen didn’t speak. Now all Molly
heard on the other end of the line was the kids playing in the background.
Michael and Lily.
“Can you hang on just a second?”
“Okay, I don’t want the kids to hear
this. Are you saying Laura is missing or something?”
“I hope not,” Molly said. “I’ll be
honest with you though, Allen, I’m worried. I know we haven’t spoken all that
often but I don’t know what else to do. I wanted to know if you’d heard from
her because I haven’t.”
“Have you driven over to her
house?” Allen lived two hours north of
Willow Springs,, so it would be difficult for him to make the trip down.
“Yes. Her car was there but as far
as I can tell, no Laura. The doors were locked, the lights were off, everything
seems to be in order over there.”
“Her car is there?”
“So she got a ride with somebody?”
Molly thought about that question.
Laura normally drove wherever she needed to go. She didn’t live far from
Harlington Avenue, though,. But there were no businesses in walking distance
she would go to, that Molly could think of.
“I’m not sure. I have no idea. I
just know I can’t reach her, I mean it’s three o’clock now, I’m getting
Allen sighed heavily. “I..” he
“Is there anyone you know of who she
could be with? Her mother? I’m really at a loss here.,” Molly said.
“I don’t know…I think we should
call the police. This isn’t like her. There hasn’t been a time that I tried
calling her and her phone’s been off. If she didn’t answer she’d call me back
within twenty minutes.”
The police. Molly dreaded the idea,
but knew it had to be done. Something about calling the police made the fact
that no one had heard from Laura four hours seem all the more real and scary.
“I will. But what about her mother?”
“Have you spoken with her yet?”
“No. I’m afraid to call. I don’t
want to worry her if this turns out to be nothing.”
“How about this, I’ll call her mom.
I know her pretty well, but I think you should call the police,” Allen said.
“Okay,” Molly said. “Allen I’ll be
sure to let you know the second I hear something.”
“Please do. I don’t know what I’m
gonna do. Maybe I ought to come down,” he said.
“No sense in worrying the kids yet,”
Molly said, comfortingly. “I’ll do my best to figure this out.”
“I’ll call her mom. You know what?
Maybe there’s some sort of emergency we don’t know about.”
“Let me know.”
Molly couldn’t believe what was
happening. Her best friend, the girl she had gone to college and shared
everything with could possibly be missing. Four hours didn’t seem like long,
but for Laura and for anyone that knew her, it was.
Molly’s cell began to ring. It was
“Molly, it’s Allen. I just spoke to
Rhonda.” Rhonda was Laura’s mother. “She hasn’t heard from her, you better go
ahead and call the police.”
After Molly hung up the phone, she
felt her heartbeat increase again. She sighed, trying to hold back tears. She
picked up the phone and dialed.
“Hello?” Said the voice on the other
“Mom,” Molly said. “If it’s not a
bother I’m gonna need you to watch Mathew for a few extra hours tonight.
There’s a problem.”