“Megan! Bob never came home! Please come over now.” Jasmine’s voice is trembling, and I can tell she’s crying.
“Give me ten minutes, Jasmine.” I hang up and get up. I go to the kitchen to feed the beasties before going to take a quick shower. I dress in sweats, give the cats some love, then take off for Jasmine’s place, my mind whirling. I can think of a million reasons why he didn’t come home, and none of them good. The least worst possibility is that he went on a bender and had to sleep it off on his friend’s couch. That seems highly unlikely, but I’m clinging to it so I won’t have to think about worse possibilities.
“Megan!” Jasmine throws her arms around my neck and squeezes. It’s clear she’s been crying for hours, and she doesn’t have any makeup on for once. She’s wearing gray sweats, but they’re not meant to be exercised in. She probably paid more for the sweat suit than I pay in mortgage every month. I brush that aside because now is not the time nor the place. This is all about her.
“Jasmine!” I hug her tightly, stroking her back as I do.
“I’ve called him thirteen times between when you left last night and when I called you this morning.” Jasmine is blubbering, so it’s difficult to understand what she’s saying.
“Let’s go inside and talk.” I go into her house and close the door behind me. I take off my shoes and line them up on the welcome mat. I lead her into the kitchen and put a kettle on the stove. Once the water is boiling, I make us ginger tea. “When’s the last time you ate?” I ask, trying out my best mom glare.
“I can’t, Megan. I really can’t.” Jasmine sags to the floor, and I’m disconcerted at how much of a wreck she is.
“You can, and you will.” I stare into the fridge to see what she has in there. There are dumplings, noodles, radish cakes, and rice. Not exactly breakfast fare, but I’m beyond caring at this point. I heat up two bowlfuls of noodles, grab the necessary accoutrements, and go into the dining room. Once I have everything laid out, I go back to haul Jasmine’s ass in there as well. Once we’re seated, I start eating. Jasmine pushes the noodles around inside her bowl, but doesn’t eat. “Jasmine.” I put some steel into my voice, and she obediently lifts a noodle to her mouth. I glare at her until she starts masticating and swallows. I don’t let her talk until she’s finished half of her noodles. Then, I nod at her. Clearing her throat, she begins.
“As I told you, Bob has been acting strangely for the past three months.” Jasmine takes a deep breath and continues. “I asked him about it, but he said it was just work. His boss was pushing him to put in more time, despite his seniority.” Jasmine reaches for her glass and drains half her water in one gulp. “Two months ago, I caught him sneaking into the house at one in the morning. It was really bad.”