Cold. Wet. A quiet, yet vibrant buzz.
With a bat of her lashes, Chloe slowly came to her senses. She sighed, straightened her back, while watching the streetlights whiz by through the imprint her forehead had left on the condensation covered bus window. The clock next to the driver’s cabin showed 11:11pm. “Make a wish!”, Chloe thought. The 51 bus had been late as always, which had left Chloe standing shivering in the pouring rain for a solid twenty minutes. Even now, some thirty minutes later, the cold dampness lingered in her clothes just like the every evening sadness lingered in her head.
Tonight’s shift at Tesco had been uneventful, give or take a few weirdos plus the regular late shift drunks shuffling in before ten pm to get their fix. Thankfully, her annoying co-worker Marty was still on vacation somewhere (she didn’t know where and she really didn’t care either) and was replaced by some temp worker for the time being. An orange juice spill in aisle four and the temp worker frantically trying to find the mop had been the highlight of her evening.
Chloe sighed again, louder this time. It had been almost a year and she was still trying to figure out how her life went from country club weekends to late shifts at Tesco and scrambling to pay rent at the end of the month. One decision, just one, to drive a wedge between her and her family, to the realization things were not going to work out the way she had imagined, to her driving away all that she had left. Just one decision.
“Compton Street”, the monotonous voice announced. Chloe grabbed her bag & got up. The rain had stopped, but a harsh wind was still howling down the streets. She pulled her parka tighter around her body and rushed right into the next house entrance. Hastily, she fumbled for her key, while the wind pressed cold air into her lungs and clothes.
The staircase was empty, only the muffled sounds of a few TVs accompanied Chloe as she hurried up the stairs, taking three steps at a time. The key was lodged firmly in her palm as she passed by the Clementson’s apartment. For once, no screaming, no drunk husband sitting outside begging to be let in. She exhaled with relief, stepped over a trash bag someone had left lying and quickly slipped into her apartment.
Unfamiliar; the same apartment she had been living in for years. For the good, for the bad. Unfortunately, also the same apartment she was living in for years with him. Now that he was gone, every single room was filled with void; his own, personal void.
Chloe had thought of getting a cat, but she didn’t want to be that girl – the girl who gets a cat at 25 to cure the loneliness someone had left. So instead, she cured it with canned spaghetti on toast, a glass of wine (or two or three) and lastly, two of the little white pills Clara had given her. She kept them in a little tin box sporting the print “Lifesavers”. She barely managed to plug in her phone charger and get undressed before she collapsed onto her bed and into a nervous, medically induced sleep.