Jed sat on his front porch, his chair tilted back on two legs, his feet resting on the rail, his eyes closed, hands resting on his chest, fingers laced together, as relaxed as any man could be on a Sunday afternoon.
At least, he believed it was Sunday. He didn’t pay much attention to the days of the week any more, even less to the hour of the day or the month of the year. None of it mattered. When he hungered, he ate. When sleep came upon him, he rested peacefully. He no longer minded his solitude; he’d learned to relish it. His freedom was, in a word, liberating.
He wasn’t sure how long ago That Day happened, not that it mattered anyway. For a while, right after, he’d mark each passing day on the calendar that hung in his kitchen. Then, after a few weeks, he started drinking. Drinking in a way that a man drinks when he wants to forget. Or maybe he wants to quit living. When a man trades his morning coffee for shots of straight whiskey, and he never bothers to temper the liquor with a meal, the passage of time becomes irrelevant. The days, like his vision, blur and spin, leaving him disoriented. Eventually he sobered up. By then he didn’t know for sure what day it was, so he never bothered with the calendar again.
But That Day. That was a day he’d never forget. It was a day that changed everything.
On November 3rd he woke, stretched as he might on any Fall morning, and wondered idly how he’d managed to sleep so late. It was 8 o’clock already, an hour past his usual Saturday rise time.
“Marge,” he called to his wife of fifteen years. “Where are you?”
It was odd to wake and find her gone; on any other Saturday he’d be nudging her awake. He listened to the stillness of his home, so quiet he could hear the ticking of the kitchen clock. He was alone.
There was no note or any indication of where she’d gone. He checked the driveway, but the car was parked where it always was when she was home. Mystified, he stepped out onto the porch and called again. He walked slowly down the steps to the sidewalk and across the yard to the street. He whistled long and low, a sigh exhaled slowly from his core. He turned to his left, then to his right. Where was everyone?
Birds were singing, and he could hear a dog barking somewhere down the block, but no sound of traffic, no children, no people. Jed ran his hand through his hair, scratched the nape of his neck, trying to make sense of the senseless situation. He turned and made his way back to the house.
November 3rd. That Day. The day everyone disappeared. Everyone but Jed.
He didn’t know why he was left behind. He didn’t know much of anything. But today it was a fine Spring day and the air was sweet. For now, that was enough.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, SAM challenged me with “Imagine a world without hierarchy or social class divisions. Can you see it? Good. Now write about it.” and I challenged lisa with “It wasn’t how she pictured retirement, but….”
p.s. I found this challenge extremely, well, for want of a better word, challenging. In fact, this has been the MOST challenging of challenges. I never got my head around “a world without hierarchy.” Even Eden had hierarchy. But, if only one existed, then maybe….