On either end of the large room are identical oak chairs. He must have had a designer place them there. I debate within myself which to seat myself at.
It wasn’t a gradual change. Something as striking as that doesn’t happen unnoticed. I still wonder at it as I did the moment it happened. They flew back as if hidden my masks. But there are no masks. I thread the line through the handle, fix the lock to the steel shutter of the lock. It should revolve unobstructed now. I take the end of the line to the chair on the left.
I try to recall my proof. I try to recall the smile. Pulling the image back into view has become near impossible. It breaks into pieces that are blown away, piece by piece. I try to recall what the dining table looked like. The soft silk napkins. The melody of clangs of knives and forks and spoons bouncing off plates. The waitress. My confusion. How I couldn’t read the menu. “You choose,” I said. “I don’t know. What do you think?” I try to recall her smile then. I had dined alone. I loved what she had ordered on my behalf.
Outside the window is a black canvas. It’s too late for anything else to show. The towers are burnt-out fires. The hardwood floor clicks under the soles of my shoes. I wait for him. It won’t be long before he steps through the door at my side. I will be out of his view at first he enters. I will make it easy.
I walked streets searching for them. I had woke from sleep and I could find none. Where had they gone? Could it all have been a dream? Was I going to wake soon, terrified but grateful it was nothing more than my dreams at work? I didn’t know. So I searched for them, finding none in anyone. Not even my own. They do not look at me. They do not shoot me terrified or disgusted looks. I have no reflection.
It will be soon.
The faces had disappeared. In their places voids. I saw no eyes that glisten. No lips that speak words of kindness. I saw no faces. Not in anyone. Soon all the faces I knew started falling out of my memory. One remains, a phantom in my head. That of the waitress who smiled. It was as though all the faces had been erased. All but one. The only proof I have that there were ever faces where there are none now is a slowly fading memory of someone who smiled at my indecisiveness.
The ding of the elevator sounds. I follow his footfall along the long hallway. He slides the keys into the lock, and pushes inside. I’m concealed in the dark of the room. His footsteps fall heavy, he has spent another day hard at work. The light flickers open. He makes his way to the center of the room. A small sign on the main wall comes into view, hung where he would see it every day.
Happiness is taking note of the little things that make our lives. They happen only once. In that time, life is yours.
He stands before me now. From my seat, I pull the line in my hand and the structure I attached to it clicks in place. The crashing sound is that of the slide of the lock shattering. No one will open this door. No one will interrupt this. I dart toward him.
I imagine he is startled now. I imagine he is surprised at my being in his home. I do not see. I do not know. There is a thud as I strike his head. Another as he falls to the floor. The blade cuts cleanly through. The stream of blood slides smoothly across the hardwood floor. Like a river. The tip of the knife now rests where it will cause the most painless death. His body will slip into shock, his head will flood over with absence of feeling, and he will feel nothing. He will leave having hurt little. His fingers smear a streak across the floor before relaxing and stopping in place. Then I see it. I see what I came for.
For a moment, I see his tranquil face.