How I Found Her, Chapter 1

I’m really proud of this mystery I wrote, and I’d love for more people to read it. So, below, please find the first chapter for your consideration! If you like it, you can get the rest of the book (pay what you want!) here.


My last ride of the morning gets out of the car at the Fidelity building in the Seaport. It’s 9:30 AM, so rides to work are going to be scarce for a while, so I turn off the rideshare app and, since I’m near my apartment, I decide to make a quick pit stop at home before  I’ve been in the car for three hours after gulping down a large coffee when I got up at 6, so I  really need it. I pull into my garage and take the elevator up to my apartment. It hasn’t been our apartment for a year. Ships are chugging through Boston Harbor, planes are landing at Logan on the other side of the water,and though I’ve been at work for three hours already, it’s still morning and beautiful. I decide to take a little “mindfulness” break. I paid 60 bucks for the mindfulness app subscription, and the best thing I got out of it, ironically, was being told to turn my phone off  for at least thirty minutes a day. The app didn’t know (unless it did. I’m not a cybersecurity expert or even novice) that I often used my downtime to stalk Jeremy’s social media, or  Kitty’s, or to check in on Maddie’s, or to explore my incredibly bleak prospects on dating apps, or to look on LinkedIn to see if any of the hundred people I’d messaged in the last month had gotten back to me about a full time opportunity that would get me out of gig economy hell. Even still, the app was probably right that turning off these mostly negative inputs for at least a half hour was good for my mental health.

So I make coffee and go sit on my balcony. Trucks are making deliveries on the streets below, and some folks are scurrying to work, and just taking in all this human activity makes me feel less alone, less desperate. I’ve tried meditation on numerous occasions and never been any good at it, but, strangely, when I’m just up here observing people going about their business, I can shut my brain off and just be.

It’s a good thing I enjoy it because I’m going to wind up paying a pretty big price for these few minutes of peace.

Feeling at least a little recharged, either by the no-phone time or by the coffee, I decide it’s time to head out again. I figure I’ll go to the South End Whole Foods, since I often run into Susan there, and she always makes me laugh, which helps me get through the day.

     Once I’m in the Whole Foods parking lot, I turn on the grocery shopping app.  Kevin has an order. I click the accept button on the app

 and prepare to do Kevin’s shopping. Like me a year ago, Kevin pays other people to do his grocery shopping, and probably his laundry and dishes and child care and anything else he doesn’t feel like doing. I would say “it must be nice,” but I know from experience that it is nice. I wish I had appreciated it more when I had it.

It’s pretty easy to navigate the aisles of Whole Foods at quarter after ten. Supermarket aisles don’t really heat up on the weekdays until lunchtime. Then there’s another afternoon lull and then the pre-dinner rush. If you’re feeling desperate, like on a Monday night when not too many people want rides anywhere, you can usually get another quick grocery shop in after 6. I never used to know any of this stuff. Now it’s woven into the fabric of my every day.

Kevin has ordered only a couple of plastic bags of triple-washed organic spinach as a nod to vegetables. I’ll be getting the rest of his order from the meat, cheese, and seafood departments, with a stop in the supplements aisle for a big tub of protein powder. I’m guessing Kevin is into weightlifting.

I was more of a Pilates gal myself. Until I could no longer afford Pilates. Now I’m a “drive around all day and watch with dismay as my aging body loses all traces of fitness” gal.

I see an auburn-haired woman also picking up bags of spinach. I suspect it’s Susan, and then I see the bigass cup of Dunkin iced coffee in the shopping cart’s cup holder and I know for sure it is her.  She, like me, is a white woman of a certain age. (Fine. Fifty-two. I’m trying to let go of the vanity that was such a hallmark of the person I used to be. Not gonna lie: it’s challenging). There aren’t too many women in the gig economy, especially women of our age, at least as far as I’ve seen, so Susan and I have struck up...a friendly acquaintanceship? I can’t say it’s tipped all the way to friendship because I’ve been kind of reserved. There are cultural differences that make me uncomfortable. By which I mean I was a rich person even though I’m not now, and I assume that as a not-rich person, Susan will think I look down on her for her Boston accent and blue-collar roots. And, of course, a year ago, she would have been right. And knowing this fills me with shame. So it’s complicated.

“Good morning!” I say as I reach for the spinach.

“Oh, hey!” Susan says. “Who you got today?”

“Kevin,” I say. “Weightlifter. What about you?”

“Anne,” she says. “New mom, judging by the jars of organic baby food. I don’t actually resent the new moms.  That’s a fucking nightmare stage of life.”

“Yeah,” I say. I wasn’t overwhelmed by having to do lots of stuff in addition to caring for an infant, but it was still very hard on me. “I had post-partum depression,” I say. “It completely wrecked me for the better part of nine months.” I don’t like talking about this, not because I’m ashamed of having had an incredibly common mental health problem, but because it makes me start thinking about my many and various failings as a mother, which I’ve had a lot of time to think about in the last year.

“Yeah, I was wrecked for the better part of two years,” Susan answers. “But in a different way. That was before I got pregnant, by the way. Actually it’s why I got pregnant.”

Like I said, she makes me laugh. This laugh, though, switches my train of thought to Jeremy, which gets my feelings off the regret and self-loathing track and onto the rage track.

“Wish I could say the same. I was stone cold sober when I got knocked up by an asshole,” I say.

“Well, we were all young and stupid once. The point is to stop being stupid when you get older. That’s where Charlie really fell down.”

“Yeah, Jeremy definitely got stupider as he got older,” I say.

Susan’s phone buzzes, and she glances at it. “Oh, Jesus, Anne is texting me with substitutions. I might hate this bitch after all,” she says. “See you soon!”

     “Okay,” I say. This is the most real conversation we’ve ever had, which makes it the most real conversation I’ve had with anyone since my “friend” Elaine called me up and informed me that she didn’t think she could really be my friend anymore because I never had enough money to do anything fun. I was so stunned by life at the time that I actually thanked her for at least being honest with me and waited until she was off the phone to call her a selfish, shallow bitch.

     Compared to that, talking about post-partum depression is actually delightful.

     I drop Kevin’s order off at his condo. It’s a glass and steel box much like the glass and steel boxes that are all over Boston now, including the glass and steel box in which I still reside.  Kevin’s is literally one block away from the Whole Foods. So I’m sort of torn between hating him for being lazy and loving him for making my job easier. When I get back in the car and check the app, I see that he has tipped me one dollar on a hundred-dollar order. Hate wins the day.

I will say this in defense of the rich person I used to be: having previously been a broke person, I was a good tipper. Something I’ve discovered since becoming a servant-for-hire is that most rich people are shockingly stingy. Or perhaps it’s not shocking.

I’m annoyed by Kevin’s bad tip, so even though I have time for another Whole Foods run, I decide to switch apps and see what Sir Barkington has for me. Dog walks typically don’t pay very well, but they do allow me to monetize my time, and I get to spend time with dogs, who, at their worst, are still better than most people.

The only thing available is a walk four blocks away with a French Bulldog named Muffin. It was booked last night, but I deliberately don’t look at the owner’s name. I’m sure the owner is a terrible person. They named their dog Muffin. But that’s not the dog’s fault. I want to just enjoy a few minutes in the company of a dog without thinking about who owns it.

So, ten minutes later, I open the door of an apartment on Rutland Street using the door code provided by the app. Muffin charges the door and begins barking at me, so I squat down and give her some scratches behind her ears. Her breathing sounds wheezy and alarming, but that’s just the way dogs that have had real snouts bred out of them sound.

“You ready to go, girl?” I say. “Excited for your walk?”

In response, Muffin gives me a bark and runs into the house. Which is somewhat annoying, but it gives me an excuse to snoop in a rich person’s house, which I rarely get to do now that I no longer get invited to them. This one looks like it has been staged by a real estate agent (my former friend Melissa was one): the walls are off-white, the art is subdued and not too colorful, the furnishings give no clue as to the owner’s taste or personality, with a color palate ranging from eggshell to khaki all the way to slate. It’s like a mid-level hotel chain lobby.

Well, except for the corpse in the middle of the living room floor.


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