“He never came home.”
The words left Susan’s mouth, but it didn’t feel real. This wasn’t like Jake at all. He always came home on time and never stayed out all night. It was supposed to be impossible. If an underage glistening was out past curfew—ten p.m.—the police were supposed to be notified. They would pick them up and return them home. That was how things were done, but no one came. No one called.
Her son was missing.
Jeff glanced around Jake’s room and Susan could see that he was disturbed by what he saw: the perfectly made bed, the folded clothes over the back of his chair. Jake was always a good boy. He always did his chores before he went to practice. He always did what his mom asked of him. “Maybe he—” Jeff broke off, “I just don’t know, Susan. Did the phone ring at all in the middle of the night?”
“No, I would have noticed. I sat up half the night waiting for him.” Susan had dark circles under her eyes that concealer wouldn’t begin to cover. She looked puffy, certainly not her best. “Should we call the police?”
Jeff sighed, bending to peek beneath their son’s bed. “With everything that’s going on, I don’t think this is the best time to call them.”
“Our son is missing,” Susan said intently, quietly. “And you’re worried about how that will look?”
“I’m worried about the rest of my family. Marie, you,” Jeff rubbed her arms. “He can’t go anywhere or hurt anyone. He’ll be back and he’ll have some explaining to do.”
“I just want him home safe,” Susan whispered, hands over her mouth. There were thick tears in her eyes and fear netted in her chest. “He can say anything he wants if he’d just come home.”
“Oh, honey.” Jeff hugged her. “Please, try not to panic.”
“What if he’s hurt somewhere? What if he can’t come home?”
“You know as well as I do, if he was in distress the police would be notified. They’d go to him. They’d call us.” Jake’s tone was still soft, even. It made Susan want to scream at him. Couldn’t he get emotional, just once?
“With everything that’s going on? How do we know that? How?” Susan’s voice broke off. “I just got him more eggs yesterday. I promised him I’d make them for him. How come he’s not here?”
“Do you want me to keep the restaurant closed today?” Jeff rubbed her arms, making eye contact. “I can stay with you.”
Susan shook her head, her chin quivered. “You go. We both shouldn’t go crazy.” Besides, she knew that if Dusty’s didn’t open, the police would get suspicious.
“I’ll swing by his school, all right? Talk to a few of his friends. See if they know anything, okay?”
Relief flooded her eyes. “Oh, please. Call me, after you talk to them.”
“I will, honey, I will.” Jeff kissed her forehead. “Try to relax. Go about your day as normal as possible, for me. I can’t live without you, hon.” Jeff gave her a smile; it gave her strength. Then he was gone.
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