First the alarm rings in its noisy and ephemeral way. Then there’s relaxing in a bed still warm from the night’s sleep, and also stretching. Stretching is good. Outside the morning birds are a wild orchestra, singing from the trees and bushes and telephone poles.

The coffee smells strong and pungent and the cup is gently warm. Breakfast is oats, boiled with raisins and cinnamon. The raisins swell; they’re a juicy, sweet contrast to the oats’s bland stolidness.

The morning jog is quick because work is calling. The air is fresh and the park empty — why do runners not seem to enjoy the morning flowers and the smell of dew on the grass? The jog is invigorating, and the hot shower that follows more refreshing than the coffee was.

But that isn’t how things are. The alarm rings and you — through force of will — climb out of bed (where the warmth no longer holds any attraction). The coffee is just coffee. It tastes bitter but you drink it because it’s familiar and habitual. You have no energy to exercise, and truly you never had the time. What’d you been thinking: it makes the morning a mad rush to eat and wash and dress. Enough with it. But it’s already been a few days since you’ve stopped exercising and it’s not something you think about any more. Now the only thing left is to wonder if she’s woken up yet. If she misses you. And you know this:

She is waking, and she might be thinking of you, but she doesn’t miss you.

6 thoughts on “Gone”

  1. The chirpy not-world is very well crafted.
    The birds and the food and drink shine out off the page.
    I got a 50s America, waving at the neighbours, gee whizz, that’s swell (and not raisins) vibes.
    It makes “But that isn’t how things are” have a more powerful sucker punch, which is very effective.

    I’m not convinced about Her, though. To make the juxtaposition (look, ma, I can yooz syllables!) between happy-shiny-land and real world more effective, I think I would have liked to see her in happy-shiny-land, but missing in the real world. She feels a little tacked on only being in the real world description.

  2. I really, really enjoyed this. I was enjoying the beautiful world description, finding it hyper-real and lovely, and then you deepened it by adding the reality, which made the reality even more heartbreaking and sad. I found this piece very powerful emotionally. The last line is a real punch to the gut.

    What makes it even more powerful is that both views are realistic. I have had days that feel like the first half – when you feel happy with the world and your place in it, you have satisfying and yummy food which tastes just as good as it should and the exercise that you are fitting into your life feels great – and you notice all the wonderful little things about the world. But I have also had many days like the second half – when everything should be the same as described in the first but it all turns to dreck in your mind and in your hands. Slipping the lost love into the end of that description provides a compelling reason for the point-of-view.

    There was one description that didn’t work well for me: I couldn’t conceptualise an ephemeral alarm ring.

  3. Ah, your characteristic detailed observation – lovely. The utopian feel of the “happy” morning is, as always, beautifully observed, although slightly too much so – I found I started to mistrust its note-perfect joys, and to anticipate the undercutting. It’s very effective.

    The whole thing had, though, a slightly concertina effect – the early part is stretched out, the last couple of lines snap together to present you the absent “she” with really very little detail. I’m not sure if this was the intent? I found myself looking for the kind of vivid, minutely-observed detail you’re so good at with reference to her as well as to the speaker.

    A couple of phrases also jarred for me – “There’s relaxing … and also stretching” was a bit odd, and the brackets around “where the warmth…” seemed unnecessary.

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