Prompt: Stranded

What it was like to wake up alone.


It was lonely and cold. Single and solitary, but still morning with thousands of people waking up together, or also alone, getting to places that needed getting to. Millions, probably. I don’t know that many people, or can’t conceive. It was morning, and alone, and cold, but not really because the air was off. It had been nice the night before, and you had said it was “good sleeping weather.” It was. Maybe still is, but I’m not sleeping. I’m awake, and that’s how I find the bed empty. Or, half empty. A better person would say half full.

I was dreaming in a way that didn’t let me know I was dreaming. About work, or driving, or putting on my bra, or whatever—something stupid and mundane. But then I was shocked out of it. By what, I can’t remember. It wasn’t horrible, though. A jolt. A bull running at me? It doesn’t mean anything, or at least I don’t think it does, but I just like remembering if I can. Usually I try to remember it in the shower, as I switch the water from hot to cold and then back again. And then back again all the way so it’s burning so hot that it feels cold, and I can’t tell which way I’ve turned the knob. That’s usually when I remember what happened. If I don’t, I stay under the hot water until my brain confesses something. You’ve got to stay thinking. Always thinking.

But now, I don’t want to think, because I can’t remember my dream, because you’ve left and it’s on my mind. And breakfast. A whole mess of breakfast. I deserve it after this. Maybe I should be thanking you. I haven’t had a decent breakfast for a while. The best meals come from deserving; I’ve always thought so, at least. Hash browns, bacon, toast. Everyone knows what breakfast is. Maybe that’s a first-world thing to say. This is a first-world problem, waking up alone. Does this happen in tribes? Does a boy leave a hut in the morning, before anyone else is awake? Who would be awake? Hunters. Maybe he had to leave to go hunting. “Dear Girl, I’ve left this morning to go hunting in the city streets. Will return with nuts, berries, and the New York Times.”

Suppose he’s died in the bathroom. Does that happen actually? To people who just met? Or, as a punishment to people who have stayed together for far too long; gotten comfortable, lost love, wandered into the outskirts of fidelity…If he is dead in the bathroom, what will I do? I suppose that depends on how he’s died. If it’s messy? Call an ambulance. And if it’s not, will I stare into his dead eyes trying to find something, like I’ve seen famous people do with other famous people who are, most often, pretending to be people who aren’t famous and just living their everyday lives? Maybe that’s what people really do. I’m not there to see.

Likewise, no one is here to see me, so I could do anything I pleased with that dead body. Not that I would please. I’d just stare. Never seen a dead man before. Would it be me that I was looking at, really? My dead body in his. Just lying there, alone on the bathroom floor, stranded and silent. I ought to try—to lie down for a moment on the tile, to see what the dead man would see. Float gently through the roof and down the street. Leave the house and do my ghostly business. Quiet as a dead man now. Quiet and still.


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