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He reached over the side of the bed, but it was cold and empty. So cold, his hand jumped back with the chill on his fingers. And he turned over to look at the clock with fear. It was just four in the morning and she was gone.

A moon beam came wavering in through the crack in the curtain over the bed. Inside it the dust motes turned in front of him. He rubbed his eyes awake. Blinking and trying to see the room beyond the bed was difficult. And when his eyes adjusted even a little there was still nothing there, she was not there either. Not even a light in the bathroom or the hall indicated where she’d gone.

With eyebrows knit together he flung his feet over the edge of the bed and lifted his torso, groaning. Perhaps she was in the kitchen, the thought. His bare feet stuck to the hardwood floor. With every step a smack echoed. And still the house seemed silent as before he woke. So it also was in the kitchen. The pots and pans hung from their proper places on the ceiling and the dishwasher light blinked for the clean dishes inside. But this room also was empty. Troubled now, he paced back and forth beside the island countertop with the phone in his hands fingering the buttons.

He’d argued against adding a land line for days with her. Whatever antagonism he had was beating in his heart now. What had happened and where was she? The rooms were empty and dark, and there was no sound but that of his feet still smacking against the floor.

The breath in his lungs nearly burst as if punctured then as the click of the door burst into the silence. The moon hung about her head. He dropped the phone to the floor and rushed to the door before the cacophony had ceased, embracing her. Under his fingers, the hair down her back felt coarse and wet.

 

“Where have you been?” he scolded.

 

He let go her body. But his hands lay gripping her arms as he stared into her face. It was a relief to him to have her back and inside.

 

“I couldn’t sleep,” she said, “so I went for a walk.”

 

He marveled at this statement. Why she should go out in the middle of the earliest morning when not even the sprinklers went on for fear of waking someone? Yet her voice was calm, solid.

 

“Oh,” he said and blinked at her.

 

The light was starting to bud near the horizon. The world was more grey than dark now. She slid past him easily and headed upstairs. Her feet padded quietly across the floor. Then the sprinklers tiscked awake and shook over the lawn, feeding it.

Read part 2 here.

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