Ten minutes later, I was entering her home – an average sized apartment in a five-story building.
“Excuse the intrusion…”
A middle-aged woman I knew well enough by now welcomed me. She was, of course, my friend’s mother. Her face was that of someone who had been crying recently, although her attitude didn’t show it in the slightest. Now I really wondered what the heck was happening to them.
“Welcome! It’s been a while since the last time you came.”
“Yes, I’ve been pretty busy… But today your daughter came looking for me needing help. Has something happened?”
“I’ll let Claudia explain. After all, I’m sure she’ll do better than I could.”
She left us all alone as she went to cook something.
She wasn’t doing us as big a favor as she thought.
I asked Claudia to explain.
I just wanted to finish quickly, honestly.
“Since a few days ago, a few items with no apparent commonalities have been disappearing in the house. They just vanish out of nowhere. My two little brothers, my parents and me have all been affected by this.”
“Are the items of any particular importance or value?”
“They are all things we would never want to lose, though their exact nature and monetary value isn’t consistent at all. They just seem picked at random.”
“And you are sure this isn’t just bad luck, or you people not searching properly.”
… I’ll trust her, I decided.
I began my investigation.
I got Claudia to make me a list of all the missing objects with a brief description for each.
And I started looking for cl- oops.
I should probably say hello to everyone while I do that, I reminded myself.
Since I apparently had to examine every room for missing objects save for the bathrooms, I would inevitably come across the rest of the family in the process.
The investigation proceeded smoothly.
One by one, I went checking the spots where the objects should have been placed.
And as Claudia had told me, they had no relation between them whatsoever, or at least none that I could discern with the information I had.
The list included books, videogames, pictures, toys, tableware, and some more than I feel no need to mention.
What stood out to me, rather than the objects, their locations, or their apparent lack of connection, was the mood of the different members of the family when I went to meet them.
Claudia’s father, not unlike his wife, showed signs of having cried not long ago – although these signs were much less noticeable in him than they were on Claudia’s mother. He wasn’t in a very bad mood, however, as he insisted on chatting with me for a while, as well as giving me something to eat – since it seemed I wouldn’t be getting home in time for lunch. Which I had already, preemptively, informed my parents about with a text message.
The kind man appeared to find our idle talk relieving, but after that was over, he kept on with the work he was apparently doing.
Claudia’s two little brothers, who were so similar to one another that I could not help but wonder how many times I had confused them before, were the most upbeat out of all of them. According to Claudia, this had all started not even a week before, so they either didn’t pay any mind to the disappeared objects after the first few days, or they hadn’t noticed yet.
Overall, it felt nice to meet all these people after so long.
It was also a strangely nostalgic experience, the way Claudia’s family welcomed me as if I was an old friend of theirs. They all gave me the same treatment save for one exception – Claudia’s grandmother, who I hadn’t known was living with them.
“She’s my grandma. She has been feeling very tired recently, so she’s asleep right now. Please don’t bother her unless absolutely necessary.”
Claudia commented that as we walked by her bedroom’s door.
And so the most I got to see of the grandmother was the small peek I got into her bedroom through the half-open door.