The Story

He steps from the plane and the pieces of his life fall at his feet. They are broken, awkwardly and impossibly twisted, tumbling to the pavement in a place he has never before seen.

In the taxi that takes him to his apartment he imagines the rest of the world gliding by in still motion, as if everything has been arrested, as if time has stopped and all that’s left to be seen is a montage of moments left unfulfilled.

There is a man outside the building selling fruit. The man offers him an apple. He declines the apple, declines to meet the apple-seller’s eyes, climbs the steps to his new home and turns the key.

The apartment is less furnished than he had been led to believe. A chesterfield and a bed, that is all. The clothes on his back and a keyring with one key, that is all. This is the new person he has become.

He uses most of the last hours of the day and most of the little money he has to purchase a computer. He sets it down at a local cafe and begins to write about anything. Nothing comes to his fingertips. It’s the same here as it was there, only without the things he thought he loved.

She catches his eye and smiles at him. He isn’t used to this sort of brazen introduction. He sends a brief smile back at her and resumes writing nothing. There are words on his screen, but they don’t mean anything. There are sentences and phrases, but no meaning, no plot, nothing to hold them together.

He watches her leave the cafe, hears the rhythmic click of her heels hitting the side walk, sees the coffee or tea or something balanced precariously along with books and a bag. He watches as she steps into the street, watches as the car that is moving too fast to stop strikes her. He sees her hips crumple, her body twist awkwardly and impossibly. He knows she is dead.

He presses forward with the crowd of horrified onlookers. A page raggedly torn from the spine of one of her books crumples as he steps on it. It is streaked with her blood. Soon it streaked with his vomit.

As he retches, a phrase catches his eye. A sentence, a thought. And like that, he has his story.