I’ve Been Reading Too Many Mystery Books Lately

I’ve written a lot of serious stuff recently so I thought I’d include something totally different. I have been on a mystery movie/book binge most of my life. (If you have a great series you recommend, let me know.)

My Writers’ Group met last month and we had a interesting prompt; write something in 20 minutes using 4 words. We each chose a word from another exercise we just finished: Shoelace, Veins, Suspicious, Itched.

As always, I’m amazed and often amused at what comes out of these free writes. My response using the 4 words became the start of a mystery! See below: Do you think he did it?

The only evidence that she might have been here was a frayed, dirty white shoelace, looking as if it had been carelessly flung to the side of the road, draped over a bush of blooming pea vine in the ditch. Just hanging there, still, unmoving, while I felt the panic rise, my heart beating like a stretched drum, the veins in my neck pulsing with pressure. It wasn’t even the whole shoelace, just a fragment. That  simple detail alone made it all the worse. 

Where was the rest of the shoelace, the rest of the shoe, the rest of the girl? 

Sinking down to sit on my haunches, my head in my hands, I tried to think. Don’t jump to conclusions here. It might not be hers. But it might.

And it didn’t help that most of the people out looking right now were suspicious that I was the one who kidnapped her. I felt their wary eyes on me. They’d seen the police question me. They knew that often the perpetrator was a person who knew the victim. I knew they didn’t trust me, but there was nothing they could find to formally charge me. At least not yet. How would they respond if I’m the one to find the first bit of evidence? Wouldn’t that look suspicious too? Was that just too coincidental? Would they think I planted it?  I feel so judged already that I don’t know how to act like I’m innocent even though I am. 

The others are searching in quadrants all in sight of me, all within 100 yards of where she was last seen. In the Foreman’s backyard. 

It’s been 6 hours. I don’t have an alibi that can be checked. I was out riding my bike but it was midweek and I took a backroad. There’s no one that can back my story. I sit strung tight with the torture of not knowing where my niece is and wanting to vomit that others think I would do such a thing. 

Seeing me sitting, a couple of other volunteers stop what they are doing and come to my side. I can see they can’t decide whether to comfort me or tell themselves to not be taken in by my grief which may be only play-acting.. “How are you doing?” they ask in a neutral way. I point to the shoelace. 

They look and yell over the police officers at the far side of the field. 

I see them running over, I see the concern on other’s faces who turn as well. I see the officers, looking serious but almost eager to see what’s been found at last. 

I find myself itching my hands relentlessly. What is this? Is this a sign of guilt? Am I trying to wash my hands of wrong-doing? Is that some psychological clue the officers are trained to see? I do feel guilty. I feel guilty that I was back late from my bike ride. That looks suspicious too. 

I keep telling myself the story. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t do anything. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know where she is. But the police keep asking me about the argument with my brother. How I told him he would be sorry for what he did. He’s the one that’s not innocent. Yet now he points the finger at me. Maybe this was the revenge I hinted at? More rumors may start. I’d been depressed in college and done some erratic things. I search my past. Is there anything else that would make me the one to take a child? 

I was out bike riding at the time? Wasn’t I? Now it seems a bit foggy. I was so angry, I don’t really remember where I rode. And why is the shoelace torn? Did it catch on the pedal of my bike? 

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