It’s about 6 at night when I take a moment before stepping inside the apartment, keys at the ready. What will it be tonight? Who will be there to greet me? Will there be dinner in the kitchen, Lithium and fast food wrappers strewn across our coffee table, or a regressed, sobbing version of my wife curled up on the tattered, black leather couch she loves so much, clutching her stuffed bear while the television makes background noise? Am I going to get slapped in the face or greeted with a kiss? Will she ask me about my day or accuse me of neglecting her or cheating?

The smell of her perfume doesn’t linger, and the kitchen looks exactly as it did when I made my bagel for breakfast. In the bedroom, our down comforter was rumpled up in the middle of the bed. Her leather jacket was missing from the coat rack. Our cat, Muffins, pawed at my leg begging for dinner with a small meow. Once again, I checked through the messages I sent her throughout the day, hoping to find something I might have overlooked.

Good morning! I hope you slept well.

How are you feeling? I called you during my break but you must’ve still been asleep.

I hope everything is okay. I miss you, I love you.

If you don’t feel like making spaghetti, let me know so I can pick us up some dinner. How does Carl’s Jr sound?

Please answer…please.

The city was busy. From my balcony, I sat and watched the rain cover downtown with a cloak of mist. Traffic was at its normal standstill as people rushed to get home from work. Before I sipped my evening cup of chamomile with three packets of Sweet n Low, I inhaled the steam and cleared my sinuses. For a moment, I was taken back ten years ago to the coffee shop where I met her on a soggy autumn day. Her hair was dyed purple and she wore a Smashing Pumpkins t-shirt with skin tight jeans and a pair of tattered Converse. Cat-eyed glasses sat above her sharp nose. We talked about music, movies, about True Romance and how it’s still a Tarantino film even though he didn’t direct it. “You must be the love of my life”, she joked, only to say it to me for real a week later.

I checked my phone again. Still no response.

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