Thursday Photo Prompt — Snow

“Snow,” Darla said.

“Snow?” her father asked. “That’s what you want for Christmas?”

“Yes, Daddy. Snow. I’ve never seen snow in real life. I’ve never even touched it. I want to know what it’s like to have a white Christmas.”

Jack and his wife moved to South Florida from New Hampshire about 12 years earlier, before Darla was born. Since their divorce, Darla stayed with Jack alternating weekends and every other Christmas and Thanksgiving. This year, it was his turn to host her for Christmas.

He thought back to his days in New Hampshire and how he loved to hike in the woods during the winter. Despite the sometimes bitter cold, it was invigorating, energizing. He could understand why his daughter, who had never been outside of Florida, might want to experience a real winter.

“Okay,” Jack said. “Let me clear it with your mother and then I’ll make plans to take you to where there is snow.”

After getting his wife’s blessing, Jack booked flights and a hotel room and, a few days before Christmas, he and Darla headed north. He didn’t know which of them was more excited, Darla at the prospect of seeing snow for the first time, or him heading back to the stomping grounds of his younger days.

On the first day of their trip they went to a local clothing store and bought flannel shirts, water-resistant snow pants, winter jackets, knit caps, gloves, and hiking boots. On the second day, they woke up early, ate a hardy breakfast, dressed warmly, and headed out onto a woodsy trail that followed a small stream.

Darla was tickled by being able to see her breath as she breathed and talked. She and Jack engaged in a friendly snowball fight, before continuing their hike. After a few hours on the trail, though, Jack noticed that Darla seemed a little less enthusiastic than she had been when they first started out. “Darla, honey, are you okay?” he asked.

She looked up at her father, not wanting to disappoint him. “I’m very cold, Daddy. I’m kinda wet, too. And I have to go to the bathroom.”

“Do you want to head back to the hotel?” he asked.

Darla nodded. “Yes, Daddy. And then can we go back home? I don’t think I like the snow as much as I thought I would,” she said. “And it’s just too cold here. Not like Florida.”

“Sure, sweetie,” he said, wondering if the store would take back all the winter clothing he had bought just the day before.


Written for this week’s Thursday Photo Prompt from Sue Vincent.

A Detective Story

The dispatcher had received a call from the housemate of a 26-year-old white female who hadn’t returned home the night before from a blind date and wasn’t answering her cellphone.

It wasn’t a surprise that, at first, the police paid little attention to the dispatcher’s report. After all, mornings were like a zoo at the precinct. All of the nocturnal creatures from the night before were stepping into the light, so to speak, and the officers on duty were barely keeping their heads above water.

Besides, these are modern times and the woman was over 21. Perhaps she and her blind date really hit it off. Maybe she intentionally shut off her cell so as not to spoil “the moment.” But when she also failed to show up for work that morning, the report started to get some serious attention.

Detective Fred Morrisey had been given a heads up when they found a green dress and some other articles of clothing hidden in the bushes around the reservoir about two hours after the initial missing persons call. According to the paperwork Morrisey had reviewed, the green dress matched the description of what the missing woman had been wearing when last seen by her housemate. No wallet, purse, or cellphone were found where the clothing had been spotted.

Was she alone or with her blind date, Morrisey silently wondered. Who was he and what happened to him? Could it have been an attempted robbery that went bad? Something as simple as a purse snatching? Maybe the victim fought back and ended up getting injured — or worse — in the struggle.

Morrisey’s experienced gut told him that sooner or later the uniforms would find the naked body of the woman who belonged in that green dress. But until they did, there was no case for him to pursue. Without a body, there was nothing for him, a homicide detective, to officially investigate. No body, no homicide.

He had other cases he was working, so he put the report about the missing woman aside. When his desk phone rang five minutes later, Morrisey knew even before he answered it that the body of the missing young woman had been found.

He also knew he was going to be in for a long day.


Written for today’s one-word prompt, “zoo.”