My body awoke with a start and my eyes blinked open. My sleek black hair was knotted and matted. Sunlight beamed through my windows and blinded me. I groaned. I sat up and swung my feet over the side of my bed. My feet hit the cold floor.
Something was different.
I looked around my room. Same old rug, same old lamp, same old house plant. What was different?
I looked at my old alarm clock. It read 8:45. I winced and held my ears. It was usually 8:45 was when the garbage truck rumbled down the street every morning, ignoring the speed limit.
But it never came.
I tilted my head, confused. I ventured out into the living room.
Where were Mama, Papa, Simone, Franz and Remy?
They were usually awake by now. Mama was usually up making breakfast, Papa in his office, the kids playing in their rooms.
"Mama?" I yelled.
"Simone, Remy?!" I shouted through the wide open space.
Only my voice echoed through the big victorian house.
Then I remembered. It was Friday! The neighborhood kids usually came out into their yards and sold homemade things today. Maybe they would have seen my family.
I ran to the front door and fumbled with the lock. I ripped the door open and was washed in sunlight. I squinted and looked out into the street. Every yard was empty. There was no one in sight. No bikers, no trash guys, no prissy neighbors walking their dogs, no kids, no family. Not a bird chirped. Not a frog croaked. The world was abandoned. I was the only one left.
My heart raced faster than my feet. I tripped over trash in the familiar alley as I ran. I was going to search every alleyway, every street, every building. Even though I expected this, I wanted to check for anyone remaining. A soul. A heartbeat. Just in case.
I tumbled out onto Wilson street and stopped for loss of breath. My brown sticky hair fell into my eyes, so I slicked it back over my head. The shops didn't look closed, but there was no one there to close them anyway. Not a sound. No cars rumbling, horns honking. Nothing. I knew this was coming.
I took shelter from the sweltering sun under the barber shop awning and took a seat on the metal bench. My breathing slowed to it's normal rate, and sighed as my thoughts raced through my head. The world looked completely empty. Except for me.
"Hello!" I shouted loudly. Why not? My lone voice scared me a bit. Fear started to encompass me. I dropped my head into my hands and rubbed my eyes with my palms. I small cry rose inside me. I then sat up straight. My plan to be the only human on earth had worked. There was nothing to be afraid of.
I ran out onto the street and looked as far as I could for a sign of life. I saw nothing. My knees buckled under me and I fell onto the curb outside my house. I grabbed fistfuls of grass to steady myself. My hand hit a yard sprinkler and made a slice through the middle of my palm. I screamed in anger. "Ow!"
Tears started to cascade down my freckled cheeks. They were all gone. Everyone. "The world is deserted." I whispered shakily.
Suddenly I thought of something.
Town! There may be someone in town. I stood up with the help of the curb, and started my way down our street towards town.
I smiled faintly when I spotted the closest building. Hope dawned on me.
There was probably a city meeting my parents rushed to be at.
Or a parade... or something...
I hopped off the sidewalk and onto Wilson street, our "Main Street" for our town. There was the butcher shop, the deli, the tattoo parlor, the coffee shop, the tailors, and down the road a bit, there was the barber shop. I peered into the windows of the butcher shop. All I saw was hanging meat and shiny knives. No people. Fear started to grow again. It made me want to tear my hair out. WHERE WAS EVERYONE? My imagination wandered to what could have happened.
Maybe there was an alien abduction. No way.
Maybe everyone in town ran away in a frenzy to get away from something. Probably not. I would have awoken from my slumber.
I walked to the middle of the street and looked around again. My long black hair blew in the faint breeze. I narrowed my eyes.
"ANYONE!?" I screamed. My voice was scratchy and dry. I closed my eyes and waited for a sound. I heard a clink. I opened my eyes. Down the road at the barber shop, I got a glimpse of a shadow. I started to run.
Suddenly I heard a feminine shout from down the road.
I wasn't alone like I had thought.
I scrambled from the metal bench to a small space between the barber shop and the jewelers. I heard frantic footsteps approaching. The crevice-like space was dark and dirty. The tall grass was grown up past my knees. I needed to go farther back into the darkness so that the person wouldn't see me. I backed up slowly until my back hit a wall. I turned around. A concrete barrier! No! I threw my hands in the air. When my arm came down, my skin met a piece of sheet metal sticking out of the barber shop building. The cold metal cut through my skin like a sharp knife through jello. The footsteps were louder and less frequent. I drew in a breath and held it. The blood dripped down my arm and onto the ground. The only sounds I could hear as I pressed my back against the concrete were the dripping of my blood on the gravel and my heart beating louder than a kick drum.
I had to let out my breath. I tried to control it slowly, but as it left my lungs, so escaped a small whimper. I slapped my hand over my mouth. Tears filled my eyes, but I could distinctly see a shadow appear in front of the opening. I quickly glimpsed at my bloody arm then began to feel faint.
I peered into the tunnel-like area into which the shadow had run. I was shaking from excitement. I wasn't the only one left! I thought. It was hard to see into what seemed a black abyss, but I could see a shivering frame, then I saw it drop to the ground. As if it had fainted.
I peeked around the corner of the barber shop building for about ten minutes. Making sure the thing didn't move again. I got impatient at around that time, and tip toed into the space between the buildings. The tall grass itched my thighs and the tips of the grass touched the hem of my night-shorts. My feet struggled to step quietly for the crunchy dead leaves under my feet. I had never been back here. Soon I reached a concrete wall. I looked down and jumped back. There was what looked like a massacred person laying on the ground. Blood was everywhere and his face was white as the clouds floating overhead. The boy looked about my age, 15. His thick brown hair was stuck to his forehead. His handsome face was covered in splatters of blood. He was definitely human. Not alien. I thought.
"Hello?" I nudged the body with my toe adorned in red nail polish.
My heart beat skipped. He was alive.
I knelt down next to him and laid my hand on his shoulder. His body jolted and he made a groaning sound.
"Ahhhhh." He rolled over in pain. His eyes flickered open and narrowed when they met mine.
I narrowed my eyes at the dark figure kneeling beside me. I blinked my eyes a couple times and shook my head and tried to clear the fog from my mind. After a minute or two, the blur from my eyes cleared and I realized the person stand over me was a beautiful girl about my age. She had long black hair and freckles on her pale skin. Her brown eyes were filled with concern for me. But I didn't need it.
"Get away!" I yelled and pushed myself away from her and up against the concrete wall. The girl's face twisted with anger.
"I was trying to help you! You're hurt."
My hand went up to my arm. In the darkness I could see the blood spill onto my hand. I gagged, then sighed in annoyance. Why was she here? The girl came and sat next to me.
"Is it just me, or am I the only person you've seen today?" the girl asked. I winced and leaned against the concrete. Apparently my plan didn't work. But I had to answer honestly.
"It's not just you." I muttered. The girl shook her head.
"I knew it! What do you think happened? I'm really scared." She said quietly. Her tone was soft.
"Um, I don't know." I said half truthfully and half dishonestly. I did know what happened to the others, just not why she was still here.
"Yeah me neither. I'm Misha." The girl stuck out her hand. My hand was still holding onto my injured arm, so I just nodded my head.
"Henri." I replied.
"So, do you think we are the last ones?" She asked with fear in her shaking voice.
"Yeah, definitely. I should know." I replied confidently. I was sure.
The girl rested her face on her knees. "I miss my family. Why are we the last ones? I just want to go home but home isn't home without the people who live in it so... I don't want to go home." I quietly listened as Misha rambled on in despair. Suddenly she sat up.
"You're hurt, I'm sorry." She reached for my arm. I flinched. My breathing quickened and my eyes warned her to stay away.
"So are you." I muttered, gesturing towards her cut hand.
The girl nodded, but continued to try to help. She didn't know that the empty world was my doing.
"It's ok, I just want to look." She slowly peeled my hand off of the wound. I didn't want to look, blood made me queasy. Misha's eyes squinted then widened, but when she saw me watching her, her face went back to it's relaxed expression.
"We can go into the barber shop. They have strips of cloth in there."
She stood up and reached her hand out to me.
Henri reached up with his blood covered hand and grasped my cut hand. And blood mixed with blood. I winced when his grasp tightened as I pulled him up. I realized as Henri stood that he was much taller than me. And he was a lot more handsome when he had life in his eyes.
I couldn't talk for a second, but as I looked onto his stone cold face and into his bright blue eyes, I found my words.
"Barber shop's right here. I'm sure you knew that." I chuckled. We had to walk in single file to get out of the space between the buildings. Henri was silent.
We made our way back out into the sunlight. I looked back at Henri and saw him in the light for the first time. His torn button-up and jeans were dirty, and his shoes looked almost like worn moccasins. I turned back around quickly. He looked homeless.
I pulled open the barber shop door and a little bell sounded. Tears sprung to my eyes. I hadn't heard that sound in a while.
I turned to Henri who had just entered also. His eyes searched the inside of the building, as if in awe.
"Wanna sit down? I'll treat your wound." I offered. My papa was a surgeon's assistant. He had taught me some techniques.
Henri nodded quietly, but didn't move.
"What?" I asked as Henri continued to look around the room.
He shook his head quickly. "I've never been inside here." He said calmly. His tone different than before. He slowly walked to the barber's chair and sat down. Once he did I started opening drawers looking for the cotton cloths that the barbers tied around men's necks while cutting hair. I found a stack. Then I searched for alcohol that the barbers used to clean their tools. There was none in the drawers so I checked the counter. A ceramic bottle I found held what I searched. "Got it." I said when I found it. Henri did not look enthused.
"It will burn." I warned Henri as I opened the bottle.
"I know." Henri said quietly.
I brushed my hair out of my face and poured the alcohol over a cotton ball. Henri's face was expressionless as I dabbed the liquid over his cut. I cleaned the blood and tied the cotton around his arm. He looked up at me with interest as I fiddled with the knot. I smiled. I was starting to like this kid.
I was beginning to think Misha was starting to like me. She was very careful as she cared for my wound. I contemplated during that time whether I should tell her that the world being empty was my fault. The way she poured out her heart to me made mine wrench. I didn't know it would cause someone this much pain. It wasn't my plan to have anyone left.
"I was supposed to be alone." I whispered subconsciously.
Misha looked at me. "What?"
I closed my eyes and exhaled. I was going to tell her.
"I was supposed to be the only one left." I said louder.
Misha was quiet.
"I got rid of everyone else on earth so I could have it to myself." My voice slipped as I started my selfish explanation.
"As you probably noticed, I'm a homeless kid. I wanted to be able to walk into a store and not be stared at, and I wanted to have possessions. But I didn't think it'd be like this." The tears of a 15 year old boy are never pleasant, but Misha was there to see them. She still ceased to speak. "I'm sorry." I whispered.
Misha walked to the other side of the room. I thought she was going to walk out the door. But instead she wheeled over another chair and sat right in front of me. Her brown eyes seemed to peer into me. "You did this?" She asked with her sweet, soft, innocent voice. It was like a pierce to my heart. My selfishness had ruined everything. I nodded silently and looked downward, refusing to make eye contact with the girl whose life I had just basically taken away. Instantaneously her hand was on mine. I looked up. Ugly tears streamed down my face. To my surprise she was slightly smiling.
"It's ok. You don't have to explain any more. I don't need to know how you did it, but-" Misha looked out the window. "Is there a way to get them back?" I took my hand out from under hers, wiped my tears and ran my ringers through my thick hair.
"Yes, there is." I replied. It would be difficult, but there was a way to take back what I had done. But did I want to do it?
Misha smiled with a radiance I cannot describe.
"Can we do it?" She asked with faith, her freckled face hopeful.
Before I could answer she spoke once again. "I promise you will never be viewed as a lonely, homeless, dirty boy ever again."
That was what I had wanted to hear.
"Then yes." I replied. For the first time in a long while, I smiled.