Lydia slipped her hand in her pocket. She knew it was there but she had to be sure. It was real. It was hard, through the soft fleece jacket.
No letter or note. His clothes, his laptop, his books—all gone. She picked up her keys. It was starting to rain. She had texted, called. All went unanswered. The cars made hissing sounds on the street. Lydia hated to drive in the rain.
It was little things that upset her most. Things like the rain, or burning the toast. A run in a stocking, the start of a cold.
Things like his sister. She lived nearby in a perfect white house, with Hostas and white wicker chairs on the porch, and in his eyes, his sister could do no wrong.
Every Sunday she called and they laughed about people they knew and things they had lived and Lydia sighed; she slammed and stomped. Still it went on. Remember that time when…one would say, and on and on and Lydia stood stock-still and glared until finally he said, I’ll have to call you back later, Sis.
The rain was coming down harder now. Little things, like that dog of his. Half-blind, and it stumbled and peed everywhere. Whimpered and cried. The sound used to set Lydia’s teeth on edge. She watched him wipe strings of saliva away from its mouth and cradle its head. And all it took was a few tiny drops; why couldn’t he see it was better this way.
There were no words; how could she say, when you close your eyes, I disappear.
Lydia grew up with parents who loved her. Anna, her sister, thought Lydia hung the moon. No one drank, no one smoked. No troubled uncles or wayward cousins ever came creeping into Lydia’s room.
So why; where did the wound come from. The gunshot wound. That’s how Lydia pictured it. A gunshot wound that pored through her fingers and out of her gut and bled just the same if anyone saw it or not.
Lydia parked a few houses down, across the street. The rain had stopped. A blond woman took groceries out of her car. A gallon of milk. A brown paper bag, celery sprouting out of the top. She tripped, the milk almost fell and Lydia watched.
He took the bag and the milk from her hands. He smiled, and carried them into the house.
How could she say, I need you to see me. I’m not sure I’m real. There were no words. How could she say, I might be a statue or painting when you’re not here.
It was heavy; hard, through the soft fleece jacket. She crossed the street. On the porch there were Hosta plants and white wicker chairs. She rang the bell. A blond woman answered. Lydia slipped her hand from her pocket, and heard the sound of a planet exploding; she heard it twice.
She had to be sure.