in Writing


When Jessie started worked for Mr. Humphrey, she had no idea how she’d come to feel about him. In the mornings, while she prepared breakfast for the family, he’d stomp down the stairs bracing the laughing Robin upon his shoulders. How grateful My. Humphrey had always seemed for the meal, as if it wasn’t Jessie’s job. The timbre of small gratitudes ushered in his deep, smooth voice brought a flush to her face.

It was a brisk Tuesday morning. After she’d seen Robin off at the bus stop, despite many chores waiting for her at the Humphrey home, she started walking towards the office where Mr. Humphrey worked. She had no specific aim, just hazy thoughts about her employer and their relationship. When she got to the office, she saw him through the large plate glass windows, and gazed at him for a while hidden behind a newstand.

The next day, before Robin had awoken, Mr. Humphrey came down the steps softly, meeting Jessie in the kitchen. “Jessie, can I speak to you for a moment about something important?” He said it softly and with a firmness that made tightened Jessie’s heart. “Of course, what is it?” she worried. “Did you go anywhere yesterday before I got home? Were you home all day?” Mr. Humphrey questioned.

Jessie’s hands started to sweat, and a different kind of flush conquered her face. “Yes, of course! I had so many chores to do, after I left Robin at the bus stop, I came right back here.” She hoped that he would not ask her if she had been around his office.

Mr. Humphrey brows furrowed, and his patient smile drooped at the corners. “Jessie, I have a daily morning ritual. Before I leave for the day, I open my late wife’s jewelry box, and I hold her favorite pair of diamond earrings for a moment, while I think of the last time I saw her wear them. It gives me some small comfort–enough to get through the day without her.” Jessie’s brows raised and her lips opened as if to say something, but she didn’t have anything to say. Mr. Humphrey’s voice now became hard, and his eyes pierced her, “This morning, I opened the jewelry box, and the earrings were gone.”

Written as part of the Hourly Story Seeds project ( The motif was “Evading a direct answer which may trap one.” (