This intriguing short story was concocted by one of BSA’s talented writers and Mad&Cat contributors, Tehya Faulk. If you’re in the mood for a good read, take a look!
Crack in the Ceiling
by Tehya Faulk
Her attempts to fall asleep were futile. Without him, she had forgotten how to brush her teeth, how to cook, and how to get out of the bed. She had forgotten how to be herself. She could only lie awake looking at the tiny crack in the ceiling that seemed to haunt her existence. It represented everything that was wrong with her life. It was the manifestation of every heartache she had felt and every tear she had shed.
The night before he was scheduled to leave for Panama, she had tried to stay awake so that they could spend time together. It was 8:00. She sat up in the bed watching his favorite television show, which she hated, but tolerated. She figured that it would make him happy if he knew that she watched it, even in his absence. She made sure that there was food waiting for him on the kitchen counter. She could not cook very well, but she did get his favorite take out dish from the Asian cuisine around the corner from their apartment. Knowing that he would be home at any minute, she forced herself to keep watching this pointless show. There was an all- night marathon.
She was on the third episode when she looked at the clock and saw that it was almost 10:00. She had sent him two text messages earlier that he did not respond to. She was worried, so she decided to call, but the phone went straight to voicemail. She called his good friend, Jackson, who eased her nerves. Jackson said that he had left the office late and that he should be on the way home. She took a deep breath and let out a brief laugh after hanging up the phone. He was all right. After all of the built up tension and worry had left her body, she realized just how tired she was. She wanted to stay awake for him, but was battling exhaustion after a sixteen- hour day. She turned off the lamp that rested on her nightstand and decided to lie down in the bed, keeping the television on.
She woke up the next morning in a daze, but it only took her a moment to snap back into reality. She immediately looked at the television wondering if it had been on all night. She shifted her body to the left and noticed that the other half of the bed was as neat as it had been when she made it up the previous morning. Before he left in the morning, he would usually leave a note saying that he was leaving and telling her how much he adored her. She looked on the stand beside her bed. There was not a note.
He had not come home. She looked at her phone and there were no missed calls. She called his cell phone. It rang a few times before it before it went to voicemail, as if someone had pressed the ignore button. She wondered if he had intentionally ignored her call. She then called his secretary, Barbara, to see if he was at work. Barbara said that he was at the office, but could not talk because he was in a meeting. She said thanks and hung the phone up in a state of confusion. Why didn’t he call? Why didn’t he come home? Who was he with last night if he wasn’t with her? She did not have time to try and answer these questions. She had to go to work.
After a quick glance at the clock, she realized that she was running late. She rushed to get ready. As she entered the bathroom, she tried to keep hope alive by looking for clues to suggest that he came home last night. His towel was in the same place that he had left it the previous morning, the shower clearly hadn’t been used since the day before, and the toilet seat was down. A feeling of disappointment coursed through her body. She finished getting ready. On her way out of the front door, she passed by the kitchen, where she saw his cold, untouched dinner sitting on the counter.
She returned home at about 5:00. She did an immediate scan of the apartment. A chair at the dining room table had been pulled out and there was a ballpoint pen sitting on top that was not there before she left. He had been home. She then saw his key hanging on the rack. At that moment, she smiled knowing that he would not go anywhere without his house key. He must still be home. She called his name, but there was no answer. She tried again as she walked closer to the bedroom. She opened the bedroom door and walked in expecting to see him, but he was not there. He always took at nap when he came home from work, so it surprised her that the bed was still neatly made up. She did not see the shoes that he would usually kick off of his feet and leave at the foot of the bed. She did not see his tie hanging from the bedroom door. She glanced around the room again and noticed that there was a small piece of paper on her nightstand. She smiled as she concluded that it must be the note that he had neglected to leave for her the past two days. The note in which he tells her that he loves her. She picked it up noticing that it was not a note, but a receipt for his plane ticket to Panama. She did not understand. At the bottom of the receipt was a handwritten arrow that pointed to the back of the receipt. She turned it over and in clear, bold handwriting that was unmistakably his, read the word: Goodbye. She was no longer confused.
She did not cry or fall to her knees as she had done many times in the past. She just closed the blinds to block out the sunlight, climbed into his abandoned half of the bed and stared at a strange crack in the ceiling, which she had never noticed before.