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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Mystery · #972807
George is worried about his wife, who is reported missing.
The car sat at the bottom of the lake. The windows were rolled partially
up. She was in the driver's seat, head bent forward, eyes closed. A
current moved through the water, forcing her head back and up, extending
her neck. Her eyes opened.

George spoke excitedly into the phone, hysteria slowing seeping into his
voice: "Please! My wife is missing. Please help me find her. I haven't
seen her since this morning, and she was supposed to be back at two
o'clock. I'm very worried about her!"

The woman's voice was calm and controlled: "I'm very sorry sir, but a
person is not considered missing until 24 hours have passed. But we will
tell units to be on the lookout for her. Can you give me a physical

Her eyes opened and she looked around. She was underwater. She was
cold. She moved slowly in the confines of the car, trying to unlock the
driver's side door. It opened heavily and she swam out slowly and
carefully, remembering her scuba diving training. Don't rise too fast.
She held her breath and then slowly let the air out of her lungs,
propelling her upwards in the dark water. She finally surfaced. Rain
beat down on the surface of the lake. A cold, driving rain. Anger
boiled within her. Carefully she swam for the dock.

George, meanwhile, had popped open a beer and seated himself in front of
the television set. He figured watching TV might help pass the time
until he heard from the police. Not that he expected to hear from them,
or from anyone else, regarding his wife. Then, when all possibilities
were exhausted, he'd remember that his wife was supposed to meet her
estranged sister down by the lake. Then he'd suggest that the police
send someone to check it out. His wife and her sister had fought
bitterly over some "family thing" but George couldn't figure out exactly
what it was. No matter. Her sister had a reputation, and a misdemeanor
on her police record. She was reputed to easily lose her temper and
become violent.

George thought about this for a moment. If anything had happened to his
wife, the sister would be the most likely suspect. However, he also knew
that the police would question him first, as was their policy. They'd
discover that he had a two million dollar insurance policy on her. But
they'd also discover that she had taken out a four million dollar
insurance policy on him. He needed the money, and he felt he could tell
the police that. He was only a freelance writer; his wife was a trauma
surgeon at St. Mary's. She was the moneymaker in the family.

Outside in the cold rain, she climbed onto the rough wooden planks of the
dock. The dock they'd built together, after 15 years of marriage. She
was soaked to the bone and very cold. She stared at the porch light,
glowing eerily. Her house. Her dream. Then she thought of George. And
she began walking slowly towards the house. Once upon a time, George had
loved her.

She had treated his nephew at the ER one night and George had asked her
to dinner, his way of saying thanks. She'd accepted out of curiosity and
had promptly fallen in love. They married quietly, much to her mother's
dismay, since she had wanted a more elaborate wedding. She loved him
unconditionally. They argued and made up, like all married couples do.
But their most frequent arguments centered around money. Specifically,
the fact that she had and always would make far more money than he would.
Last year alone, she made three hundred thousand dollars. George had
gotten lucky with some magazine assignments and had made thirty thousand
dollars. He said it never made much of a difference but she knew it did.
George had fretted over every penny spent on this house, their summer
house by the lake, until it was finally complete. Then he loved it. And
now it was all his.

She felt the planks groan beneath her feet. The dock itself was ten
years old and she wondered how much longer it would last. Her clothes
felt as though they weighed twenty pounds and were getting heavier with
each step she took. She kicked off her sneakers, feeling the wet grass
beneath her feet. She attempted to regualate her breathing to conserve
her energy. The moon stubbornly hung behind a cloud like a small child,
afraid to show its face. When she reached the porch steps, she noticed
an axe lying on the ground. George had recently been waging an
unsuccessful war with a dogwood tree in their yard. She had asked him to
clean up but he'd left the axe out in the open, as usual. She picked it
up and moved away from the light, towards the door.

George thought he heard footsteps, but dismissed it as the television.
Besides, he would never investigate any sounds. Not at night. He was
afraid of the dark, although he had never admitted this to anyone. He
suffered through the teasing of his older brother about this, but had
never told his wife. Just another secret kept in the family.

She quietly opened the back door. Moving as stealthily as possible, she
shed her wet jacket and sweater and laid them on the floor. She moved
slowly through the kitchen, into the house. She looked for the dim glow
from the television set, where she kenw George probably was sitting.

George had changed the channel and was sipping his beer. He contemplated
calling the police again. He thought he heard something behind him,
something almost human moving around, and he turned. He saw nothing.

She quietly came up behind him and touched his shoulder.

"Oh, George, honey, I'm home." Her voice was soft but had a definite

"What the hell?" George jumped out of his seat. She was standing behind
him. But that was impossible. The car...the lake...the water. Then he
noticed the axe. "What....how did you get here?" He tried not to
hyperventilate as he stood to face her.

"George, honey, the next time..." her voice broke and she coughed.
"George, the next time you decide to run me off the road, knock me
unconscious and drive my car into the lake, the next time you decide to
kill me...." she slowed down.

George was prepared to run away but found his feet rooted to the floor.
He couldn't move. He watched as she raised the axe over her head as
though ready to chop down a tree.

"The next time you do this, you should really take care to make sure I'm
already dead."

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