Weekly Writing Challenge: Cliffhanger


The Missing Boy
by D. B. Mauldin

I walked through the house, picking up dirty clothes, after everyone had left for the day. It was Monday morning and the quiet was such a relief from the hectic weekend. I reflected on the weekend, as I put the first load of laundry in the washing machine.

It had been a good weekend, but rather noisy with ten kids in the house. Saturday was Brad’s birthday. Brad is the 2nd of my 4 children, and he had turned 12 on Saturday. He didn’t want a Birthday Party. He just wanted a couple of his friends to stay all night. I couldn’t resist baking him a cake, though. We ended up having pizza and cake for dinner. After dinner, Brad and his friends retired to his room for an all night video game marathon.

My oldest son, David, would be 16 in 2 months. I hardly ever saw him anymore. Once he turned 14, things changed; he changed. He no longer wanted to participate in any family activity. He preferred staying in his room, listening to his music, and visiting social media sites on the web. David would talk with his father some, but not me. It embarrassed him to have anything to do with his mother, like that was some rite of passage in growing up; not being mothered. My heart ached for him, but I understood.

Katie, my only daughter, was 8 years old and thought the world would come to an end if she didn’t have her three best friends with her at all times. Then there was my youngest son, Ben, who was just 6-years-old, saying, “It’s not fair for Brad to have friends stay overnight and I don’t get to have a friend stay overnight with me!”

My husband, Walter, and I managed to get through the weekend. Surprisingly, there was no fussing or fighting, no broken windows, furniture, or holes in the walls. It was loud, yes, but not bad overall.

I loaded the dishwasher, then moved to my exercise room for my morning workout. I heard the car door slam, and immediately looked at the clock. It was 10:00 a.m. Who could be visiting at this hour? I went to the window and looked out. I didn’t recognize the car sitting in my driveway. Then the doorbell rang. I opened the door, but kept the storm door locked. I recognized the woman standing on my porch; I couldn’t remember her name, but I knew she worked at the High School David attended.

“Good morning,” I said cheerfully as I unlocked and opened the storm door.

The surly faced woman did not smile. She stepped inside and looked around the foyer and finally at me. “I’m Miss Ledbetter from Adrian High School. I’m the truancy officer and I’m looking for David.”

“David. I don’t understand. His father dropped him off at school this morning.”

“He may have dropped him off at school, but he never showed up for class.”

I began to worry. “Come on in and have a seat. I will call my husband, Walter, and see if he knows what’s going on.”

Miss Ledbetter followed me into the kitchen. “Would you like something to drink?” I asked.

“No. Thank you. I’m fine.”

I grabbed the phone, sat down in a kitchen chair, and called Walter. I hated to bother him at work, but I was becoming alarmed.

“Hello,” Walter answered on the 2nd ring.

“Walter, did you drop David off at school this morning?”

“Of course,” said Walter sounding a little peeved at this point.

“Well, the truancy officer from school is here and she said David didn’t show up for class.”

There was silence on Walter’s end. I could picture his brain working. “Tell her I’m on it. I will call you as soon as I find him.”

I hung up the phone and turned to Miss Ledbetter, repeating the words Walter had just said to me. Miss Ledbetter nodded and left. I sat by the phone to wait.

To be continued…

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