The ticking of the clock on the wall was deafening to Helen. It was noon and the day was grey. She stood at the bedroom window, listened to the cuckoo go on and on as she stared out at the fields of their farm.

Carl had prepared, fertilized, and planted seeds for new growth, working hard for three days from early morning until dusk. Then yesterday he drove the 30 miles into town and filled the flatbed of their black RAM truck with groceries, farm supplies and bundles of hay for the horses. Last night at the dinner table he glanced at his watch, wiped his mouth with the napkin and excused himself saying that he had almost forgotten but he was late to attend the monthly local farmers meeting where they’d be discussing important water source options. He grabbed his brown corduroy jacket from the coat rack by the front door, gave her quick wave of his hand and left the house. She heard the motor grinding away down the dirt road.

Carl never came home last night.

The sun moved behind a dark cloud. Helen folded her arms across her chest, turned her gaze from the bedroom window and looked back at the open closet. Carl’s clothes were gone, a dozen or so wire hangers scattered on the wood floor and his boots and only pair of good shoes missing. And the space where they kept the large beat-up suitcase was bare.

Linda S. Gunther has written six romantic suspense novels: Ten Steps From the Hotel Inglaterra, Endangered Witness, Lost in the Wake, Finding Sandy Stonemeyer, Dream Beach. and most recently published, Death is a Great Disguiser. Ms. Gunther’s short stories, poetry, book reviews and essays have been published in a variety of literary journals. Website: