After My Dog Died
(650 Words)

The house was too full of his half-chewed bones and the green-eyed woman's sympathy, so I decided to take a walk. I can finally say that word without a fuss, which is funny, as I'd give anything not to be able to.

Outside, cars jostle and groan like angry, sweating beasts. Their noise is so loud that it drowns out all else and allows the Silence that he left to drape around me. I hate it.

The asphalt’s solidity is somewhat comforting, and I become lost the motion of my shoes swinging back and forth. But there’s only two of them.
In the distance, a woman walks her dog.

I go back home. I don’t cry.

The green-eyed woman greets me with pity as soon as I enter the house.

~

The TV is on, but the Silence is too loud to hear anything. Some way off, the green-eyed woman calls me to dinner. When I join her, the Silence becomes a solid, jagged thing we share between us. The green-eyed woman smiles and shifts as she eats, as if she could drown out the Silence by ignoring it. In the clatter of her cutlery it grows teeth.

“I hear that the animal shelter recently rescued some puppies. Perhaps we can go and take a look. Would you like that, Dear?”

I would like to strangle her.
~

The stones hold names of people I can't remember and can never meet. The name I was looking for is not here, but I went anyway. Some of the names are soft, nearly imperceptible. It makes me wonder what happens when not even stone can hold a memory. At least it’s better than having no stone at all.

Yew trees shelter me from the sun. They were probably the first things here; perhaps they’ll live to be the last. They have their own gentle sound, as if someone is cupping their hands over my ears. For a while they drown out the Silence that should have been filled with barks and sniffing. But then, I listen too deep and the Silence breaks though like a crashing wave. For a few breaths, I feel like I'm drowning. But I don't.

I leave his tennis ball under the trees before I go.
~

The bin is overflowing, but as he isn't here to steal the rubbish I can't be bothered to empty it. After a few more sips, I realise I have no idea what I'm drinking.

I stare at the green-eyed woman from the couch whilst she shouts. It's entirely my fault and I know I should feel guilty. But all I can think is that she looked better without the lipstick.

“He’s gone! Get over it for goodness sake. If you carry on like this, you’ll lose me too. Is that what you want?”

No should be my answer, but it's hidden too far away. So instead of comforting her or pleading her to stay, I sit and wait for her to leave. Eventually she does. The Silence that hid behind her shouting, now spews from my mouth to fill the whole house. I wait for the tears to come, but they never do.

~

The bristly starts of my beard begin to itch, so I stand in front of the bathroom mirror and try not to look at the eyes staring back. The green-eyed woman wouldn't let me have a beard; she said it made me look as scruffy as him. Well, she's gone now. Perhaps I do look scruffy, but he's gone now too, so at least we can’t be compared. Briefly, I wonder why he had to die and leave me here. But then I listen to the Silence that fills the house like treacle, and I realise there’s more than one way to kill someone. I wonder if I'm already dead. Between the flashes of my razor, the Silence waits.