Short Story – Holiday Thriller

The wind was blowing hard outide the window as she stared into the blanketing darkness. Her kids were nestled in their beds upstairs and her thoughts could willingly drift to the loneliness of the holiday season.

Her husband had disappeared a year ago during a business trip to LA. His things had all been left in his hotel room including his wallet, keys and luggage. There had been no sign of him leaving the hotel and no one had heard from him that day. His agenda showed that he was to meet with a few investors for lunch; men he was trying to get to invest in a new construction project and then he had a few more meetings with the construction crew and was flying back home that evening.

Photo by Ivan Babydov on Pexels.com

But he never showed for the lunch meeting and by the time she couldn’t reach him before his flight, the panic had overwhelmed her. Calling the hotel, the management searched his room and found all of his things there. No camera footage showed him leaving the hotel that day or since he had arrived. It was like he had just vanished.

The sorrow still sat heavy in her chest as she watched the flurries outside the window. Her kids were young and struggled to understand the vague explanation as to why their father didn’t come home from his trip. She had tried her hardest to keep it simple, but they all deserved some kind of answers.

Her mind wandered to when they first met 20 years ago. They were both young and settling in to their careers after college. John had proposed to her during a beautiful dinner on the beach when they took a celebratory trip to Hawaii after graduating. It all seemed like yesterday, but time was a funny thing that way.

Tick tock. Tick tock. The grandfather clock at the clock of the stairs kept clicking the seconds away, reminding Amanda that time was continuing to move and John was still nowhere to be found. A deep sigh left her throat and she moved to stand up. But something glinting on the porch caught her attention. She turned slowly at the sparkling paper placed on the deck chair outside the window she had just been sitting at.

She’d seen this paper before… a long time ago. John had used the same paper to wrap her 10th wedding anniversary gift. It was a locket shaped like a bird with their first two kids’ photos tucked inside. Her hand slowly raised to her neck where the locket was nestled against her warm skin. She had added a few other charms to it over the years as reminders of all five of their children.

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

The little box was sitting out there wrapped in the beautiful soft pink paper with a white and gold bow tied stunningly around it. She slowly made her way to the window and staered at it. She was sure that hadn’t been there a moment ago. The bow was whistling in the blowing air and with her heart pounding, she decided to go outside and get it.

Safely back inside and nestled into her warm armchair, she held the package close, inspecting it. It certainly looked like the same wrapping paper and when she held it to her face she could almost smell a familiar cologne. She hadn’t smelled it in a long time so she wasn’t entirely sure… but it was very similar to John’s favorite smell.

Taking a long and deep whiff she closed her eyes and pictured John there with her. His arms warmly wrapped around her and laughing about something the kids had said that day. Bracing herself, she pulled the bow and undid the paper. Inside was a little black box and she lifted the lid to reveal what was inside.

Crinkling tissue paper hid what was sitting in there, but she pushed it aside and revealed the same exact locket that she wore on her neck. It looked brand new but it was most certainly the exact same design. Lifting it out of the box to turn it around and look more closely, she was even more sure that it was the same one her loving John had given her. Being a locket she knew she should open it and see what was inside.

Without thinking too much about it, she steeled herself and pulled open the locket. No pictures of her kids were inside… but… there was one word tucked inside the right side of the locket. The word “soon” written on a tiny piece of paper and laid so carefully inside. Her heart started beating and she jumped off her chair running outside in the snow and to the street where she could look up and down for any one… or anything that might be out there.

How did she end up with this surprise gift on her porch with the same locket her husband had given her? Not to mention the note… what could that possibly mean? Was John sending her a message or was it…someone else?

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