A quick work of flash fiction. Tried to write something very different tonight. This came out instead.
Harold had no idea what time it was or exactly how long he had sat staring at the empty white field on his screen. She was gone. He had no idea how long she had been gone. It felt like weeks. He hadn’t heard her go. There was no final closing of the door, no last flip of the switch. She had been there when he was not paying attention and now she was gone.
Harold thought about getting up to look for her. It would do no good. He had called her name five times already, each time expecting her to bound into the room with an offer of help. The right word. Some lascivious whisper. One delicious sentence to get him started.
There would be no more of that. She was gone.
The screen was blank. His eyes ached from the glare. Was he watching the screen? Was the screen watching him? It was hard to know which was which.
He hadn’t heard her go. How long ago had she left? He felt like he should still be able to catch her scent in the room. There must be some trace of her perfume, some phantom tendril to remind him of her. She wouldn’t have been gone that long. She wouldn’t have left him completely empty. She would have left him with something with which to remember her.
He looked around the room, confused and crippled feeling from his time spent hunched over the chair.
Had he slept? Impossible that she had left while he was staring at the screen, not writing. He must have fallen asleep. He must have slept.
Harold pushed away from the desk. He was trying to remember the last thing she had said to him. What had it been? Was there some clue contained inside?
I’m going out. He could certainly imagine her saying that. He could hear the words in what he believed to be her voice. I’m going out. So casual. So normal. She was going out, just like had a hundred times before. She would be back. That was how it worked. She went out then she came back. He tried to satisfy himself but the words sat false. That was not what she had said.
Harold stood up, unsteady on his feet. He was drunk with exhaustion. It was hard to keep himself steady. He walked across the bedroom, ready to grab for balance if needed. The room was moving around him.
The bedroom door was open, a mouth open to the long dark hall beyond. Seeing it made him panic. He had not left the door open. He always closed the door when he was writing. Or not writing. She had opened the door. She had left the door open.
He thought of calling her. Certainly not the first time he had thought of that. The idea was no good. She didn’t have a phone.
What kind of person these days doesn’t carry a phone?
Harold shuffled down the long, dark hallway, feeling like a person in a horror film about to stumble across the dead body. And it would have been some kind of relief for him to find her lying there. Then he would not need to know that she had left him and was not coming back. Dead was better. If she was dead, that was one thing. But she wasn’t dead. At least, she wasn’t dead in his apartment, and Harold was left alone once again with the more awful truth.
She had left him. He had not heard her leave. She was not coming home.