She opened her handbag …

Today’s writing prompt and my response.

She opened her handbag and tipped the contents onto the floor

Mrs Wilson was worried.

Where had Jamie gone? He hadn’t been home for three days and nights. She had tried calling his phone, only to hear it ringing in his room. Yes, he had snuck off on the odd occasion before, coming home at dawn with leaves in his hair and smears of mud on his clothes, for which she had given him a good tanning of his hide.

But three nights? Her initial desire to beat him for his thoughtlessness had now dissolved into something like, well, upset. She was truly worried.

A knock at the front door made Mrs Wilson jump. Who on earth at this ungodly hour of the morning?

‘Mrs Wilson, are you there?’

There stood Mrs Reeves from next door, Jamie’s little friend Suzie’s mother. Mrs Wilson pulled open the door, heart thumping.

Her neighbour wore a fluffy dressing gown and well-worn slippers. Her eyes were anxious, her face pinched and pale.

‘Is Suzie here?’ she asked. ‘She went up to her room last night, but this morning she was gone, her bed unslept in.’

Mrs Wilson’s heart sank. Jamie had tempted the little girl into his runaway plans? How could he do that? Her worry morphed back into anger. ‘I called her phone, but it’s in her room.’

‘Jamie’s missing too.’ Mrs Wilson said it abruptly, as if she might be embarrassed. ‘Come in.’

‘We should call the police,’ Mrs Reeves cried, stumbling into the hallway.

‘Humph, useless.’ A thought came to Mrs Wilson.

She grabbed her handbag from the hall table, opened it and tipped the contents onto the floor. On her hands and knees, she sorted through the used tissues, old face masks, a pair of missing gloves, a packet of mints. There it was, tucked underneath the unused lipstick. A business card. She turned it over. PE Snoop, it read, Private Investigator.

She recalled that day in the shopping mall when the man had appeared in front of her and Jamie, how he stared at her son, said, ‘You’ll need this one day,’ thrust the card into her hand and strode away.

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