Then She Was Gone 1 Laurel let herself into her daughter's flat. It was, even on this relatively bright day, dark and gloomy. The window at the front was overwhelmed by a terrible tangle of wisteria while the other side of the flat was completely overshadowed by the small woodland it backed onto. An impulse buy, that's what it had been. Hanna had just got her first bonus and wanted to throw it at something solid before it evaporated. The people she'd bought the flat from had filled it with beautiful things but Hanna never had the time to shop for furnishings and the flat now looked like a sad postdivorce downsizer. The fact that she didn't mind her mum coming in when she was out and cleaning it was proof that the flat was no more than a glorified hotel room to her. Laurel swept, by force of habit, down Hanna's dingy hallway and straight to the kitchen, where she took the cleaning kit from under the sink. It looked as though Hanna hadn't been home the night before. There was no cereal bowl in the sink, no milk splashes on the work surface, no tube of mascara left half-open by the magnifying makeup mirror on the windowsill. A plume of ice went down Laurel's spine. Hanna always came home. Hanna had nowhere else to go. She went to her handbag and pulled out her phone, dialed Hanna's number with shaking fingers, and fumbled when the call went through to voicemail as it always did when Hanna was at work. The phone fell from her hands and toward the floor where it caught the side of her shoe and didn't break. "Shit," she hissed to herself, picking up the phone and staring at it blindly. "Shit." She had no one to call, no one to ask: Have you seen Hanna? Do you know where she is? Her life simply didn't work like that. There were no connections anywhere. Just little islands of life dotted here and there. It was possible, she thought, that Hanna had met a man, but unlikely. Hanna hadn't had a boyfriend, not one, ever. Someone had once mooted the theory that Hanna felt too guilty to have a boyfriend because her little sister would never have one. The same theory could also be applied to her miserable flat and nonexistent social life. Laurel knew simultaneously that she was overreacting and also that she was not overreacting. When you are the parent of a child who walked out of the house one morning with a rucksack full of books to study at a library a fifteen-minute walk away and then never came home again, then there is no such thing as overreacting. The fact that she was standing in her adult daughter's kitchen picturing her dead in a ditch because she hadn't left a cereal bowl in the sink was perfectly sane and reasonable in the context of her own experience. She typed the name of Hanna's company into a search engine and pressed the link to the phone number. The switchboard put her through to Hanna's extension and Laurel held her breath. "Hanna Mack speaking." There it was, her daughter's voice, brusque and characterless. Laurel didn't say anything, just touched the off button on her screen and put her phone back into her bag. She opened Hanna's dishwasher and began unstacking it. Excerpted from Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.