5:27 PM

        It is 5:27 PM. That was all that I could say or think or even believe at that moment. It was 5:27 PM and everything was different. The world was dark and I was afraid to go outside. I didn’t know if the sun was going to rise again. The door looked like it was a warning and a safety net. I felt the walls moving with my breathing. It’s all different now.


          I can see car lights drive by now and then – they creep in between the curtains and the walls. I heard some kids going down the street once. They were on skateboards – I could hear the wheels hitting the lines of the sidewalk.  I think I can hear a dog sometimes, but it’s far away.


          I don’t like to turn on the lights in the house. I don’t have a working television anymore, and I threw my computer against the wall after it happened. I don’t need them. There are small lights throughout the house anyway; the stove telling me the time, the air filtration unit and air conditioner letting me know the temperature. I’ve walked around the house so many times now that I don’t think I need lights anymore. Twenty-nine steps from the kitchen counter to the bathtub. Another eleven to the hall closet where the towels used to be. I just walk the house and go through a dark life now.


          I don’t open the refrigerator anymore. That used to be another light that would make me aware of where everything in the house was; make me more aware of myself and the changes I was going through. But, the food has long since run out. I hadn’t gone for groceries in a week before it happened, and everything that’s still in the fridge is either growing a friend or just an empty case. I have no reason to go in there. I used to look in there out of habit. Walk to the cupboards, go to the fridge, check the freezer. Now I know that I have some food in the pantry, and some emergency stuff in the attic, but I don’t go up there. Not yet. When I have to, if I have to, I might run up and get a few cans of whatever I can grab. I don’t want to spend any time up there, though. No. No, I won’t.


          I used to want to never be alone. I used to offer people a place to stay, a couch to crash on, I even bought a two-bedroom house so I could have a guest bedroom. I would be that person that always invited friends over. Or strangers. I would welcome parties at my house, even when I had to work early the next day. I didn’t know I was scared to be alone until I was petrified of being around anyone.


          Two young people in suits came to my door the other day. They rang the bell and waited politely. I didn’t tell them to go away. I didn’t answer the door. I didn’t do anything. I froze in the middle of the room. Instantly I could feel the sweat dripping down the back of my neck and gathering on my top lip. It wasn’t until I heard them walking away that I realized I hadn’t been breathing. I almost fell over, inhaling and exhaling as heavily and as quickly as I could. It wasn’t until long after they had gone that I resumed walking around the house. For hours after I tiptoed around making even less noise than I already do.


          I’ve become invisible. I didn’t mean to. I disappeared from everywhere I used to be. I disappeared from everyone I used to be. I haven’t changed my clothes much since it happened. I don’t see a reason to. I don’t shower either. When the urge comes over me I will wash myself with a rag – I used up all the washcloths a while ago. I stopped washing myself after I scalded myself. It wasn’t the first time I had the water too hot. But that time I felt it. And I could smell it. I could smell myself cooking. That was how I knew I was gone, though. I didn’t worry about how it would look or feel, I didn’t care about infection or the like. I only wanted the smell to go away.


          I don’t know how long it’s been since then, since I knew it happened and was done. All I know is that I’ve run out of clean clothes and towels. All the fresh food is long dead and growing fungi. I haven’t seen natural light directly for so long I think it would hurt my eyes. I never thought things would be like this. All I can do is pace the house until I want to rest. I think a lot. I talk to memories a lot. Sometimes I get lost talking to them; I replay them again and again and again. Sometimes I can change them a little here and there. I can change how I reacted and the outcome – it goes from recollection to a beautiful dream. In that dream none of this has happened. I can’t change any of it, though. It all happened how it happened and I can’t change a lick of it. All I can do is keep going. I don’t know why, but I can’t stop yet. Maybe I’ll try going outside tonight. Look at the stars. It’s a start.