You walk down the stairs past the bedroom window. It is dark and quiet. You open the gate and close it quietly behind you. You unlock the door and open it. She isn’t sitting on the couch. You’re about to call out her name and say that you are home, then you remember why she isn’t there and you stay quiet. The thing in your gut twists.
You hear nothing. You are so used to hearing the television on in the bedroom where she spent so much of her time, but you hear nothing. You’ve come home to a silent apartment before, when she was out of town on business, or visiting her parents. That silence you never minded, possibly even enjoyed. This silence is different. That silence had an end. Knowing there was an end to it you didn’t mind it. Maybe you didn’t even notice it. This silence has no end. This silence makes you focus on it and the reason for it. It makes you think about that thing you don’t want to think about. The thing in your gut struggles to free itself. You push it back down.
You do the things you do in an evening. You eat. You read. You go to the bedroom. You don’t want to go to the bedroom, but you go anyway.
You see the bed. Its just as you left it in the morning. There are fewer clothes strewn about the floor than there should be. There’s a pillow missing.
You change into your pajamas and go to the bathroom. There’s a toothbrush missing. There’s three bottles of hair product missing from the shower. You wash your hands. You go to wash under your wedding band, but it isn’t there. There’s just your finger, slightly white and indented.
You go back to the bedroom, set your alarm, get in bed and turn out the light. You have an urge to turn over and say something. You have said this thing almost every night for the last three years. The words meant less recently than they did in the past, but you said them anyway. Instead you say nothing. You stay on your side. You could stretch out, but you don’t. You don’t roll over, throughout the night if you feel the urge to roll over, you stifle it.
You sleep sounder than you have in the past, but when you wake up, you forget for a moment, and you look over, you look over like you have for at least a thousand mornings in your life. You see the sheets covering a depression in the mattress, a space that will never again be perfectly filled.
The thing in your gut makes it’s move. It wants out. It starts as a wail and gets louder, then breaks up into the regular beat of sobbing. You find a pillow and stuff your face into it, momentarily worried someone will hear you. It just keeps going, or so it seems. Eventually it stops. You pull your head from the pillow and look at the ghost face left by your tears. You turn the pillow over and find something to wipe your eyes with.