Chapter 4: Pasta No More

There was a crispness in the air as I walked the last few blocks towards home after my bus left me off after work. I enjoyed the walk, breathing in the humidity in the air, a rarity for the area. This walk always afforded me time to think. Thinking big and small, narrow and wide: about the rat race, about the choices I’d made in life, about what hit during the last 24-hour news cycle, and tactically about what to make for dinner. The pantry was mostly bare, which could mean another “run the gauntlet” trip to the store along with the rest of the 9–5 crowd. My modest home (which certainly didn’t cost a modest monthly mortgage payment, given our zip code) came into view. However, Maribel’s car was not in the driveway. She was rarely late, but she was surely not here yet.

“Hello?”

The house seemed cold and uninviting as I walked in. I turned on a few lights, dropped my bag by the door and made a quick circuit of the first floor, peering in each room.

“Mari? You here?”

Silence.

I opened the “Find my iPhone” app to see where she was. The last known location of her phone was the house, as of this morning, which was odd. I looked in our usual spot for charging our devices. Empty, as I suspected, except a smattering of iPod Shuffles that we used for running. I tried calling her, but no answer. I tried to shelve the worry and panic creeping up from somewhere deep in my body, and instead set about getting ready for the evening. I was sure she got held up somewhere, and maybe her phone gave up the ghost. Surely there was an explanation. Surely she’d be here soon.

I put on some random playlist to cut out the silence that pervaded our house. Vince Gill came on after a few tracks, singing …

Oh the lonely sound of my voice calling
Is driving me insane
And just like rain the tears keep falling
But nobody answers when I call your name
Oh nobody answers when I call your name

Enough music. I turned it off, savoring the silence once more. I investigated our refrigerator and pantry to see if there was something I could make for dinner. Everything was almost bare, but I could eke out the most standard of standby meals: pasta with meatballs. A few minutes of boiling water, some microwaved meatballs and a can of sauce. Dinner was ready, courtesy of Chef Stidwell. “Chef, my ass,” I muttered.

I peered out the front door at the empty street. My table for two was set, but where could Mari be? Worry and panic arrived in full force, and suddenly I had lost my appetite. I looked back at the table, a wave of nausea hitting me head on. I dumped the contents of our pasta bowls into the trash, leaving the dishes in the sink for another day. Wandering into our bedroom, I stood for many minutes, my skin feeling flushed and numb in places. I sat on the edge of the bed, laid back to stare up at the ceiling, and tried to breathe deeply.

I awoke in the pre-dawn hours when the birds began calling for the start of a new day. I was still dressed from the night before. Nobody shared my bed. I shuffled from the bedroom down the hall, past pictures of vacations and life’s milestones, and looked out the front door once more.

No car.

No Mari.

She was gone.


This story is part of a series of stories I’m writing as part of a commitment to sketch each day of 2016. My #365daydraw project yields an image each month, by popular choice, to serve as inspiration for each chapter.
Read more about my #365daydraw challenge