The American National Public Radio (NPR) service recently ran a short story contest called Three Minute Fiction. The idea was to write a story that began with that week's sentence prompt. Since you have to be an American resident to enter, I couldn't throw my story into the ring, but I did write one for the eighth and final prompt.
She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door.
We know this because the door was left unlocked, and her husband got home last. He is certain that he locked the door after he let himself in. The placing of the book on the table is certain as well: it was found there, and the amount of dust under it is equal to the amount of dust on the rest of the table. The bookmark was probably placed on top of the book, but it was found on the floor, under the table. From this it was deduced that the bookmark fell as she walked through the door.
She left without putting a coat on. All of her overcoats were accounted for when the inventory of her belongings was made. We also learned that she is wearing a pair of low-profile canvas sneakers. She wore them around the house as slippers, but also in the back garden or to pick up the mail from the mailbox at the end of the driveway. They would be insufficient for the cold night temperatures at this time of year, but comfortable enough during the day.
She did not take any items of clothing with her over and above what she was wearing today. She was last seen wearing jeans, a blue t-shirt, and a black cotton cardigan. Her husband says that was her usual after-work outfit.
Her purse is still sitting in the front hall closet, but her wallet is missing. This is a good sign. It may mean that she wanted to have a means with which to pay for things, and points away from suicide.
Her car is still in the driveway, and her set of car keys are still hanging from the rack by the front door.
Her husband says their marriage was sound and they had been happy together. Both of them had decent incomes, and they hadn't had any major disagreements for about a year. The last disagreement was when she bought herself a new car. She wanted a compact because she had to drive downtown for work, and he wanted her to get an SUV for safety. In the end she bought the compact, and the husband says he dropped the issue after she made the final decision. Since the car was left behind it seems insignificant.
There is no suspicion of foul play at this time.
She didn't leave a note, and her husband didn't hear her say anything about leaving. He vaguely remembers hearing the front door open and shut, probably around six-thirty. He didn't draw any conclusions from this; it was normal for her to check the mailbox while dinner was cooking. When he went to check on the food himself it occurred to him that he'd heard the door about half an hour before he got up, and it didn't feel like she'd returned to the house. He searched the house for her, then checked the front and back yards.
Then he checked for her purse, and saw the wallet was missing, so he figured she'd gone to run an errand at the convenience store on the corner. He started to get worried when he'd finished dinner and she still hadn't returned.
By the way, the book on the table is a paperback copy of The Mysterious Mr. Quin by Agatha Christie. The husband says that it was her favourite book, and that she had read it several times over the course of their marriage. He has never read the book himself.