Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.
Day Two Hundred Seventy Eight
He awoke to find her gone, the bed empty beside him and the pillow cold. The room was dark and he fumbled for his glasses, trying to make out the time on the clock. It was flashing 12:00 at him and he groaned, wondering when the power had gone out and for how long. After contemplating it for a time, he decided he should get up and make sure the fridge had come back on.
There was a worry nagging at him, like a hand pressed down on his chest, though his thoughts were still foggy with sleep and he couldn’t articulate it. He didn’t flick on any lights as he left the bedroom, not wanting to intrude on her sleep wherever she had ended up. They both sometimes moved to the couch or the other bedroom during a restless night so as not to disturb the other.
The clock on the stove and microwave were also blinking. The light in the fridge came on when he opened the door and he could feel the cool air when he leaned his head in. His worry only intensified as he closed the door. Something was wrong, but he couldn’t place it. He stood in the kitchen casting about for something to put his anxiety upon but there was only darkness and the glimmer of light through the windows from the street.
Passing back through the living room, he paused, seeing a jumble of pillows and a blanket on the couch. He looked at it for a long time and then peered out the bay windows at the street. There was a car parked there in the shadow of a tree, but otherwise it was empty. It was snowing, he noticed, the flakes gleaming in the lamplight as they descended to the white ground.
He shivered, not from the cold, though standing there in his underwear was beginning to chill him. It came from somewhere deep within him, some part of him that knew and dreaded that knowledge. He padded down the hall to the other bedroom and saw an undisturbed bed, covers tucked in tight under the pillows. Then he returned to their bedroom, telling himself that he had been wrong, that she had been asleep beside him all along.
It was empty and so was the house, apart from him. He stood there, staring off into the darkness at nothing, trying to fathom what was happening. She was gone. That was impossible. He went to the front door and saw that her boots were missing from the rack and he coat wasn’t on the hook. That was impossible too, he told himself. She wouldn’t have gone out in the middle of the night.
He opened the door and looked out on the steps, where there were footprints in the snow going out to the street. From there he couldn’t see where they went. He closed the door quickly, the cold stealing in to wrap itself around his arms and legs. Where could she have gone at this time of the night?
That afternoon they had been out for a walk through the neighbourhood, going a different direction than they typically did. They had passed a convenience store, which he had forgotten was there, though it was as close as the one where he often stopped at on his way to or from work. He had commented on it, how odd it was that he could forget this place was even here when it was so near.
Her reply came back to him now as he leaned against the wall, closing his eyes. “We only see what’s right in front of us. And sometimes not even that.”