The back door was open just enough for her to squeeze through. That was strange. It was usually closed. She looked into the kitchen and realized the dining table was gone. Some of the cabinets were left open as well.
She went into the living room and found it empty. Everything was gone, even the curtains she loved so much. Where was everyone? Gone.
She went through the house and discovered there was nothing left except a couple of empty boxes and some crumpled newspaper. They had abandoned her. She wasn't really surprised. She had even prepared herself for it.
Back in the living room, she sat down right where the coffee table had been. She closed her eyes and pictured it as it was. With the sectional couch bordering it on two sides and the glow of the television set flickering images across the varnish. The surface of it was covered with a scattering of loose papers and magazines. Crisscrossing that were a few remote controls assigned to the electronic devices connected to the TV by a tangle of wires and cables. She looked over and noticed a white cable coming out of the wall, waiting to connect to something that was no longer there.
Much like her.
She fought back the surge of panic bubbling up inside her and took a deep breath. She was hurting, which was unexpected. She had kept herself distant, never letting any of them touch her heart. Dignity and pride were her prized possessions. She remained independent and cold, allowing them to serve her but only at her convenience, as though it were their privilege, not hers. Gratitude, humility, affection were all strangers to her and as she sat there in this empty house, she felt justified in her actions.
But somehow, they had still managed to hurt her. She had always remained separate, apart from them. She had thought of herself as alone all this time but this feeling strangling her with such ferocity, this was loneliness. There was an anguished wail coming from somewhere in the house, it was getting louder and she was shocked to discover that it was coming from her. A cry, a moan.
Had they even spared a fleeting thought for her? It didn't seem likely.
Feeling so tired suddenly, she curled up on the floor right in the middle of the room and slept.
The six year old little girl hopped out of the van as soon as it stopped and ran towards the house. Her father got out of the driver's seat and followed behind. Both carried identical expressions, a combination of worry and hope.
As the father unlocked the front door for the final time, he sent a small prayer up to heaven and turned the knob. The little girl shot through the door and let out a high pitched squeal. The father stepped in quickly just as his daughter turned around, showing him the cat she had cradled in her arms.
"See Daddy, I told you Muffin wouldn't leave us", the little girl said as she giggled and cuddled the cat closer in her arms.
"I'm so glad you came back Muffin. We thought you were gone."