Justine had been out of work for over a month and things were getting tight. She had already run out of a lot of foods and coffee. Damn! With my next job I’m going to make sure I stock up on things like Mom always does. She never runs out of anything.
Justine called her mom to see if she could borrow some coffee. With luck mom will invite me over for dinner and send leftovers home with me. There was no answer.
There was a great sounding job in the classified ads. It was exactly what Justine was looking for, administrative assistant in a large established company. It was pretty far out in the desert, but she had a good car and would not mind a nice drive. She called her mom to borrow enough money to fill the gas tank.
There was still no answer. It had been four days now with no word from her mom. She decided to walk the six blocks to save on gas. Justine rang the bell several times, but her mom did not answer. Justine checked the mail box and it was full. Looking through the mail, she noticed at least four days of mail had accumulated. Now she was really worried. This is not right. Mom takes in her mail every day and she would let me know if she was going to be gone.
Justine got out her mom’s front door key, but the new storm door was locked. Her mom had not yet given Justine a key. She ran around to the side of the house and saw the gate was open. Mom always kept the gate closed and locked.
With trepidation Justine went around to the screened-in back porch. Both that door and the kitchen door had been left wide open. A sudden attack of chills overcame her and she froze.
Justine sensed something sinister and could not move for several seconds. She was afraid to go inside, fearful of what she might find. “Mom?” she managed to call, but it seemed like a whisper. Then she panicked and shouted, “Mom? Mom!”, and ran inside.
Justine ran through the house, calling and searching. Her mom was not anywhere in the house and there was no sign of disturbance or struggle. There was a vase filled with wilted roses on the dining room table and bouquets of wilted roses in the bathrooms. She felt a familiar tenderness and almost smiled, recalling how she always teased her mom for putting roses in the bathrooms. “Well, they fill the rooms with a pleasant fragrance,” her mom would say. “Which is sometimes much needed, especially when your father was still alive.” They would both laugh over that.
Justine searched the whole yard and looked through the side door window of the garage. The car was still inside. The only thing she had seen out of place was a basket and pruners on the ground by the garden. She ran back to the garden and looked at the basket. Two roses were in the basket and on the ground by the pruners. She stared at the wilted roses.
Again Justine felt something sinister. She went back in the house and called the police.
“What are you implying, Detective Kelly?” Justine stared at the detective and then his partner. The police sargeant, who had first shown up with his partner, had called Kelly after they had searched the house.
Now Justine stood in the kitchen listening in shock to Detective Kelly. “Detective Langdon and I were called in on this because we are investigating three other very similar cases. The only possible clue we have so far is evidence of a very large aircraft of some kind that landed in Easton Meadows approximately five days ago. We have government agents, Air Force personnel, and ufologists out there investigating every detail of the circle. The entire area is roped off and guarded by National Guard.”
Six years later Justine stood at her father’s grave. She had come here every Sunday since her mom had disappeared. She always brought a fresh bouquet to replace the wilted roses.
© 2017 Phyllis Doyle Burns
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