No copyright on this one, this morning’s first draft. It’s the first two pages of my Novel 2, subsequently abandoned. If you want to use this as a part of YOUR NEW NOVEL, feel free. Seriously. Here goes:
“Damn it, there’s no sugar.”
Fred looked up from his smartphone. “What, we’re out of sugar?”
“Yes.” Nadia sat down at the dining room table and put her cup down.
“I bet they have it at the corner. Want me to go?”
She brushed a hair back from her face and looked at him doubtfully. “I should go.”
“I don’t mind. I could use some air anyway.”
She smiled at him. “You’re such a love.”
“Look, I’m already dressed,” he said as he stood up. “I can be back in five minutes.”
“No, I’ll do it.”
“I’m going.” He walked to the front door and picked up his keys, wallet, and sunglasses from the table beside the door.
“Well, come get a kiss first.”
As he put things in pockets and put on his sunglasses, he walked back to her.
She put a hand on his crotch.
“Uh, I could go later,” he said.
She giggled, pressing him with her fingers. Then stroking, as he stood there. “I don’t need coffee this morning,” she said.
“Um.” She was reaching for his zipper when he backed up a step. “I don’t really have time, you know.”
She sighed and turned her head away. “I know. You have work and I have housework. A day like any other.”
Grinning, he bent down and she turned her face to him, and they kissed briefly. “I’ll be back before you know it.”
“Okay. I’ll dust while you’re gone.” But she remained seated.
When he stepped out into the bright morning sunshine and closed the door, Nadia sighed again. I shouldn’t have touched him that way. It couldn’t have gone anywhere, I knew it. She gazed at the reflection in the coffee. Mirror, mirror… She got up and opened the pantry door, and took out a dust cloth.
She was in the living room, dusting the coffee table and rearranging the magazines when she realized that Fred hadn’t returned. Twenty minutes. It’s been twenty minutes, where is he?
His smartphone was on the dining room table—she couldn’t call him. Standing in the living room, twisting the dust cloth, she tried to stifle the panicky feeling that was growing in her.
Twenty minutes. He’s the most reliable…
She dashed to the bedroom, dropping the dust cloth on the floor.
Five minutes later she was out the front door and running toward the corner store. It was a bare half block away. She ran, terrified, all the way, and she stopped when she saw the smoke. The store was on fire! Where was Fred?
Two men were standing at a respectful distance, watching flames at one corner of the roof of the store. Neither man was Fred. As she came up next to them she said, quavering, “My husband. Is he in there?”
One man, tall, thin, and swarthy, with a pencil mustache, shook his head without looking at her. “Nobody’s in there.” He turned his head as a distant siren sounded. “They’re coming.”
“But was he here? He should have been here like twenty minutes ago.”
“I don’t know, lady. People come and go.”
“You work…in there?”
“Not any more, it looks like. Wow, look at her burn!”
Nadia wanted to slap him. “But my husband! He’s fifty-four, in good shape, small gray beard. Sunglasses. He was wearing a blue hoodie with a design…‘March for Our Lives’ on the front.”
The tall man nodded. “Yeah, he was here earlier.” The siren was closer and approaching fast.
“Where is he? Did he leave? Did he buy anything?”
“Yeah. He bought sugar. He left.”
“You…how did the fire start?”
“Dunno. It was in back.”
Heat from the building was becoming intense. Nadia and the store clerk backed up ten feet, the other man turned and began walking quickly down the street.
He was here, bought sugar, and left. So where IS he? Nadia turned away, now frankly panicky. He couldn’t…he wouldn’t have… The siren was very loud.
A police car approached and the siren stopped. It pulled up at the curb and a man in a navy uniform got out, a policeman. Another, inside, was speaking into a microphone as he looked at the burning building.
Nadia stepped over to the policeman, but he brushed past her to the tall man. “Anyone hurt?” he said.
“Nah.” Crackling and popping sounds were coming from the fire.
Nadia followed him and started saying, “My husband is missing.”
The cop looked at her. “He’s not in there, is he?”
“No! No. The man said he bought sugar and left. He’s been gone half an hour and he didn’t come home, so I—“
“Look, lady,” he said, interrupting her. “I got a fire to worry about now.” He turned to the storekeeper again. “You work here?”
“Yeah.” He nodded. “Used to. Now now.” He grinned at the cop. “My job went up in smoke.”
“Funny guy. How did it start?”
Nadia turned away. Where could he have gone? It makes no sense!
She started back towards home. She’d see if he was there, and if he wasn’t, she’d take the car and drive around the block, and if she didn’t see him…Then what?