3 min read

You’re Not Here

She is Schrodinger’s cat, neither alive nor dead.

Sav disappeared five years ago. Poof. Into thin air. That morning she was kissing me goodbye, my hands around her waist, pulling her closer as she wiggled out of my grip. The sun was out; I remembered because I told her I was going to see her at work, maybe grab lunch if she wasn’t too busy. She said yes, and I kissed her again, and again, and again until it was 8:16 and she was sixteen minutes late to work.

After she had left, I went to the park, read a Steinbeck, and helped an old man find his way to the train station. It was a good day. The last good day I had.

I arrived in her office and asked the receptionist for her. The woman said she never came to work. That was when my good day turned into an investigation. Phone calls, friends and family probed, favourite venues visited. Once the police got involved, it was a waiting game. He told me that she was gone—this was three weeks later—and that if anything turned up, I would be the first to know.

The sun is out today, as bright as the day she disappeared. It sounds romantic, doesn’t it? A girl disappearing; that air of mystery. She is Schrodinger’s cat, neither alive nor dead.

I take out a cigarette and let it rest between my lips. I wait until the waitress gives me a lighter. Her name is Mary, and she never takes time off work. Even during Christmas, Mary would be here. I would walk past this dingy café, and I would see Mary, face scrunched up in that frown of hers, serving customers who didn’t have anywhere else to go. No one on Earth would want to spend a day, let alone Christmas, in this place. I’m the only regular customer, so Mary has a soft spot for me. Sometimes she smiles when I walk in. Maybe it’s just a twitch.

I inhale the smoke and let it warm up my lungs. I still think Sav’s out there, somewhere. I’d like to think she’s happy, maybe she now works as a Ferris wheel conductor or a swimming instructor at some hotel in Cabo. That’s what I tell my girlfriends. I’ve had a few since she left. They would ask me questions about her, naively curious, thinking that I’ve gotten over her.

“What’s her name?” one of them asked. She was this Norwegian beauty, found her in a bar with some guy who kept calling her pumpkin. And me, drunk off of whiskey, thought she looked like Sav. In the morning, she looked nothing like her.

I propped my arm and rested my head on my palm. “Her name’s Sav.”

“Sav,” she repeated. Wisps of hair slid down her cheeks as she sat up on the bed. “And what’s she like?”

“Funny. Very smart. Great walk.”

“Great walk?”

“It’s the way she moves her hips. She has long legs, so that helps.”

“No one ever compliments me on my walk.”

I shrugged. “You have a nice walk, too.”

She lasted about a month. They all say the same thing; you’re still too in love. I would hate the way they chewed, or how they stood, the way they pronounced long words because it wasn’t how Sav would do it.

Mary walks over and asks if I want a refill. I say yes, and she pours more iced tea into my glass. She walks back into the kitchen and I continue to smoke. I never smoked when Sav was around. She smelled too good, and I didn’t want her to smell like smoke. She reminded me of potpourri.

My phone dings. I look at the screen and see an e-mail from the police department. Every month, they give me updates about their precinct. Success stories, which cat they saved from a tree, which officers celebrated their birthdays; all that crap no one would read. What I would give to see Sav’s name in that newsletter.

I take the phone and read the e-mail. Nothing. No Sav.

As of today, she is still gone.