This is another part of the story started with The Woman in the Photograph and Agnes. I’ve written a few other pieces to start tying the story together, but I don’t feel any of them are really ready to share.
David felt like the sing-song voice was coming through a dream. In the haze of just waking up, David let his eyes open slowly. It took him a moment to realize where the voice was coming from.
He rolled over and there she was. Her head resting in her arms, staring at him from the edge of the bed.
The empty side of the bed.
“Good morning, lovey. Do you know where Mama is?”
She shook her head so hard the chestnut curls danced around her ears.
“Well, let’s go see if we can find her, huh?” He stood out of bed and noticed the little girl was fully dressed. She had on her favorite pink princess dress over a pair of jeans that were decorated with flower patches. She wore at least five necklaces, each of them she’d made herself, and a tiara atop her head. She wore a pair of her mother’s elbow-length black gloves and teetered carefully in a pair of purple pumps. David smiled at his little girl, but the appearance of the gloves and shoes startled him.
No way Agnes would have approved of her daughter going through her dresser drawers.
Which meant Agnes had not seen Matilda that morning.
Which meant there was a very good chance Agnes was not in the house.
“Come on lovey. Let’s get Mama’s shoes off and go find her, okay?”
The little girl took the shoes off and placed them carefully back in the closet. David took the gloves off and put them in the drawer. Then he took her hand and they left the bedroom.
He was right. Agnes was nowhere in the house. He checked the front yard, the back yard, each side of the house. She was not there.
So he took Matilda into the kitchen and made her a bowl of cereal, “Mattie, you sit here at your table and eat your breakfast, okay? Papa’s going to make a phone call.”
She smiled a toothy grin at him and began eating. He glanced at the clock above the stove. Just barely after 7 in the morning. He knew Carolyn would be awake.
He slipped into the third bedroom, which had been converted into an office that he and Agnes shared. He glanced at Agnes’ side of the office. Her desk was covered with papers and books. He noticed immediately that her sketchbook was not there. He was positive it had been last night before he’d headed to bed.
Sitting in the leather chair at his own desk, he picked up the phone and dialed Carolyn’s house number.
“Hello?” Her voice sounded chipper, which meant he’d guessed right that she had probably been awake at least an hour already. She’d probably just finished her morning treadmill run too.
“Carolyn? It’s David. Is Agnes at your house?”
There was a hesitation, “No. I haven’t seen her since Sunday breakfast.”
David didn’t know what to say.
“Sorry, I just don’t know what’s going on. I woke up this morning and she’s not here. Her sketchbook is gone, but her house keys are still on the hook by the door.”
“Did she take anything else?”
“Not that I noticed.” He got up and walked into the front hallway, “Her purse is gone. The table by the front door is a mess. Most everything is on the floor. But her purse is not here.”
He could hear Carolyn sigh through the phone, “Shoes? A sweater?”
“The running shoes she keeps by the front door are not here. I don’t remember if there was a sweater on the coat rack. But there isn’t one there now.” He glanced at the wall next to the coat rack, “What the…”
“Yes, you said her shoes were gone.”
“No, I mean the baby shoes. The ones from the shadowbox in the front hallway. They’re gone.”
“Is the shadowbox there?”
“It’s on the ground. The glass is shattered. I didn’t even notice because it’s kind of behind my briefcase.”
Carolyn sighed again, a bit more forcefully this time as if she were annoyed with David. “Are you telling me that you think Agnes disappeared during the night and all she took was her sketchbook, her purse, and Matilda’s baby shoes?”
“I know it sounds strange, but that’s what I’m telling you.”
“Look, I don’t think it’s time to be worried. Maybe she went for a morning run, took her sketchbook in case she wanted to doodle. As she was leaving, she knocked over the shadowbox and put the baby shoes somewhere safe.”
“But she didn’t clean up the broken glass?”
“I don’t know, David. I can’t be bothered with this. I have to leave for my spinning class. If she doesn’t show up by this evening, call me back.”
She hung up, leaving David staring at the broken shadowbox. He tossed the phone onto the hall table and started cleaning up the glass.