I’ll never forget the last day I ever saw my husband, his name was George. It was cold that day; in fact, snow had fallen for the first time of the year earlier that afternoon. My sweet George had returned home from his job at the dock on time, as he always did. He was an understanding man who loved his family and worked hard so that we would always have food on our table and clothes on our back. He was never one to do things out of turn, which made it all the more puzzling that he vanished.
We had our soup and bread just as the Sun was setting for the evening. George was never much of a conversationalist, and that night was no different, as he just sat and ate in the usual silent fashion he always had. He seemed to be in a normal, if not tired, mood and I didn’t think twice about it when he said that he was going to go for a walk and have a smoke of his pipe. He would sometimes do that in order to let his food digest and to clear his mind after a hard day of work. I had to clean up the table, so I did not even get the opportunity to say my goodbyes to him before he went out the door.
Normally, he would only be gone for long enough of a time to light and smoke a pinch from his pipe. But that night, he was taking longer than usual. I didn’t start to worry until an hour had passed. In fact, I didn’t really even notice he was gone until I had finished cleaning the kitchen and realized he hadn’t been back yet. I went to the front door to look out after him, but that is when I saw that he hadn’t taken his coat with him. Actually, for a moment I thought he had already returned and I just didn’t hear him enter, but I saw his boots were still missing, so that couldn’t have been it. He had just not taken his jacket with him this time, which was odd considering how cold it was out.
That is when I officially began to worry; it was getting darker out and the temperature was only going to continue to drop. I put on my own overcoat and galoshes, and found our spare lantern in the mud room. I knew that I likely wouldn’t need it right away, but it would be helpful to have if I had to make the long walk back in the dark. We lived in the city, but the street lights were notoriously unreliable, seeing as that they were a new technology. Once I was bundled up and ready to head out, I checked once more around the house just to be sure that I wasn’t just overlooking that George had already been home.
Since I didn’t find him inside at all, I started on my way. I saw right away that there were two somewhat fresh set of footprints in the snow: George’s from earlier in the day coming home from work and George’s going the other direction after we ate. I set off in the direction that the second sets were leading in search of my husband. The bitter cold was already biting at my face and making it hard to see past the scarf that I had wrapped around my head. There weren’t many people out on the streets this time of night anyway, let alone when it was this cold, and it seemed as though I may have been the only one brave or stupid enough to be walking in this weather. Well, besides George.
The wind was causing some of his footprints to be covered rather quickly, so it became a bit of a hard job in following them. I knew that he wouldn’t usually venture down too far down the road, so I wouldn’t have to look too long before finding him or finding where he had entered. But I had made it about halfway down the street when I noticed that the footprints of his were gone. I had been following them with no trouble up to this point besides one or two being blown over, yet it was like they completed disappeared at that point in the road.
At first, I was more confused than anything. I thought that maybe I had mistaken someone else’s for George’s and turned back around to backtrack. I found his set again, and started following once more. But I no doubt reached the same point in the road that I lost them the last time and realized that they were gone. It was like George had been plucked from the Earth right there in the middle of the street. I looked around confused, and wondered if perhaps a carriage had come by and picked him up. But there were no tire tracks or horse prints in the snow at all. For all intents and purposes, George had simply just vanished while walking.
I was starting to panic at that point out of worry and fear that something bad had happened to him. That is when I noticed something on the ground, half buried in the snow. It was George’s pipe, the pipe that his grandfather had given him, and that I knew he’d never voluntarily drop on the ground. It was then that I knew something had happened to my George. I ran to the nearest neighbor’s house, and asked them if they could help take me to the Constable.
That was over ten years ago, on this day, and not a single trace of George was ever found. It was like he truly just ceased to exist from that moment on. He went out for a walk in the snow and never came home. He was a good man with a good head on his shoulders, so I know that he didn’t just run away. We loved each other and he loved his family. Did God decide that he needed him in Heaven? Or did the Devil snatch him up? Or maybe it’s something else completely. Maybe he accidentally went through some kind of spirit portal. I’ll probably never know, but I do often wonder about such things.