Chapter 1 of The Empty City

By Andrew Looney

Early morning sunlight stabbed through the windows of an upstairs bedroom on the west side of the City. It was dawn, on the last day of summer.

Jennifer had slept very little that night, and when dawn finally broke she got out of bed. Jim rolled over and tried to continue sleeping, but found that he could not, and got up as well.

The room was rather barren. Jim's bed was just a single mattress on the floor, he didn't have a bed frame or a box spring. His only furniture was a busted up old couch and a small chair. He did have a desk, but he kept it in his walk-in closet.

Jennifer stood at the window, watching the sun rise. Jim went to the window and stood behind her. He put his hands on her shoulders, but she stiffened, and walked away.

"Are you still mad about last night?" asked Jim.

Jennifer sighed. "It's not just last night," she said quietly.

Jim sat down on the sofa. He suddenly felt very helpless. He tried to think of something to say, but could not. Jennifer sat down on Jim's chair and looked at him. For a long time they sat there, looking across at one another in silence. Finally, Jennifer stood up, and started getting dressed.

"Look, I have to go to work," she said.

"I know," said Jim, looking down at the floor.

After Jennifer had gone, Jim crawled back into bed, and worried.

Copyright © 1991 by Andrew Looney.

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