Andrew R. Crow

I came home to an empty apartment. No, that doesn't cut it. I read the above sentence and realise how vague the English language is. Let's start again. It's my ink and my paper. I got fired yesterday (too much reading on the job). I came home after being fired from the Karpeles Manuscript Library to find my home void of all life and void of just about everything else. I saw nothing but a note taped to the (empty) 'fridge in the (you guessed it) empty kitchen.

The 'Dear Phil' letter said she'd had enough of my moodiness. It was signed 'Wendy Lau' her full name. That's what got to me. No 'Wendy' or 'Winny', but the whole bolt of cloth. That's what hurt the most. It was like a letter from a lawyer, not someone you'd lived with, lived in for 2 years. Not someone you'd pulled up stakes for, moving to Charleston in another for- Christ's- sake country so she could take a good position at Gentech. Not someone like that. No, a stranger. An impersonal stranger at that. But here the letter was, in black and white.

I stumbled into the bedroom, trying to decide where on the floor I was going to sleep tonight, when I saw 3 things: the actual (had she missed it?) bed, my diary and a series of books fallen on each other in the tiny bookcase by the window. The books, an 'Earthman gets sucked into fantasy world to save the planet from the evil etc' series were something I'd brought with me into the relationship. Something Wendy'd had no time for. Which was probably why they'd been left behind.

I glanced at the 5 books as if they were my only hold on the world around. The first of the 'Gilead' series, 'Gilead of the Dark', filled my hand as I sat, opening to where the bookmark lay. I'd been reading them again for the umpteenth time. The mark was at the scene where Gilead wanders out of his house one evening to answer some siren's call. He stumbles into the woods behind his home and falls through a doorway to Wandrei, the world under siege where he has powers he'd never dreamed were possible.

It was at this point I'm sure I fell asleep with mental exhaustion; I awoke in the same prone position, the book still in my hand. I'm going to stay here today, with my books and wait for nightfall. For as long as it takes. For last night, as I was going under I heard singing. Tonight I'm going to stay awake. And if I hear the singing, I'm going to answer it.

First published: May 2001