The cake sat, uneaten, on the table. The soft hum of the radio tuned to static filled the air. The coffee pot stood empty on the counter. Nothing moved. 

The wind frittered through the trees outside, knocking a lone branch against the window. It was covered with kitchen curtains, with a peek-a-boo middle so you could glance out to the back yard. But that, too, stood empty. 

It was dark, but the swings moved with the wind. There was little light, except for the partial moon. He used to call it the “Crescent Moon” no matter what phase it was in. But that was before.

It wasn’t half as scary as you used to dream it would be. It was quiet, calm and most of all, lonely. 

I raided the liquor store the first day. I wasn’t even a drinker, but when I woke up and no one was around, well, it seemed almost natural. “Drink yourself into a stupor,” I thought, “And when you wake, you’ll find it was all some kind of dream, or nightmare.” 

I made mixed drinks. Fruity ones, slutty ones, ones that tasted of chocolate and cherries. But I couldn’t get drunk. I fell into bed that night, eyes wide awake, mind racing. Where could everyone be? Why wasn’t I invited? What the hell was going on?

I fell asleep, soon enough, and when I woke, I held my breath. I listened. For the sound of cars going down the street. For breathing next to me in the mess of covers. For the call of a bird, a coyote, an owl. But I heard nothing.

The second day, I stayed in bed. I slept, in brief fits of tossing and turning. Then, I was up half the night, listening for something, anything. But there was only silence.

On the third day, I contemplated suicide. But I thought about what would happen if you were to suddenly reappear, and those thoughts were stopped by tragic images soaked in blood. 

On the fourth day, I started getting mischievous. I peeked in windows. I tried to turn doorknobs. I drove around town, throwing bricks into store windows. I stole groceries. Who was there to pay anyway? I ate nothing but ice cream sandwiches.

On the fifth day, I went to the beach. It was a few hours away, and I filled up before leaving, since if I were to break down, no one could come help me. The loneliness ate away at me. I cried a lot during the day, letting the salt air mix with my tears. It was too quiet, so I packed up and came home.

On the sixth day, I sat by the radio, tuning the dials, listening for some signal. I slept at the table that night, face pressed against the laminate, sticky and hot. I woke with pain in my neck and shoulders.

On the seventh day, I thought of starting over. I dreamed of going by the beach, building my own little place, gathering my own clothes, food and firewood. I dreamed of making a robot to be my friend. I dreamed of trying every expensive car. I dreamed of sitting on a deck, overlooking the beach, sipping on some wine, and reading; day in and day out.

But it didn’t matter what I did because at night, I always returned home and put my head on the pillow, desperately hoping that when I woke up again, I would hear you breathing.

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