I’m so terribly alone, and it’s dark in the apartment. The blackout curtains are drawn tightly to block out the aggressive summer sun. The overhead light is on, but it does nothing to cut through the darkness that is, I recognize, mostly in my own mind.
There are times when the loneliness is so overwhelming that I can’t help but cry. This is one of those times, and a soft whine escapes my lips. I take a deep, shuddering breath and push the cry back down my throat. I mustn’t let the neighbors hear. They don’t like to be disturbed.
I trudge to the window, pushing aside the curtain, and look out at the view. It’s not beautiful scenery by any stretch of the imagination, just the metal roof of a carport and some rundown duplexes. The sun beams in, and the heat is oppressive where it once felt warm and cozy. I try to remember when letting the sun shine on my face brought me peace. But I can’t.
The neighborhood gang of feral cats are acting out their usual soap opera, their strange feline cries warped by the carport’s metal grooves, but these antics hold no interest for me today. Sometimes, I wonder if I even remember what joy truly feels like. Listlessly, I let the curtain fall back into place.
Anxiety creeps in, and I begin to pace between the living room and the kitchen. I wonder how I haven’t already worn a path on these wood floors. Surely my feet are taking the same steps they’ve taken thousands of times before.
My stomach clenches. Maybe this is a symptom of my anxiety and discomfort, but maybe I am hungry. I want to eat even though I’ve already had a reasonable breakfast. I always want to eat, it seems. Some eat to curb the boredom or keep unwanted pain or feelings at bay, and I confess I’ve done that, too. The distraction sounds enticing, but there is no food in the kitchen.
Instead, I stop to drink some water. I drink and drink and drink so much water that my stomach distends. I can hear the water slosh in my stomach when I walk back into the living room. It’s painful and awkward, but it’s nice to feel something, anything. I know I’ll probably have to go to the bathroom very soon, but I’ll think about that later.
Outside, I can hear the voices of my neighbors enjoying their day. I hear some of their children laugh, and one sings an off-key song that I don’t recognize. I have found joy in those sounds before, but not right now. Today, they simply remind me of my isolation. They remind me that I’m here in this apartment alone, neglected.
Would the neighbors greet me if I met them outside? Would welcoming smiles light up their faces? I try to remember the last time I saw them, but their faces blur together. I don’t know if we’re friends.
I step over the discarded toys on the floor and flop onto the couch. Its cushions, while pretty, are cold and hard. Thankfully, the soft blanket I use gives me some slight comfort. I instinctively reach out as I sit, but there is no one near me to touch, and no one reaches back. My heart twists, and I feel my eyes start to water.
The air conditioning kicks on, and it briefly distracts me from my sorrow. The even, mechanical hum of the cool air blowing through the vents makes me realize just how quiet the apartment was before. I think about the times long ago when there were others in the apartment, filling the space with the noises of living. Now it is only me.
Clearly I have been abandoned by those I love, left on my own to contemplate the horrible bleakness of my life. I realize that no one would care if I were to perish this very moment. My withered and decayed corpse would be found years later, and not a tear would be shed.
“Who was this?” they will say. “We don’t know her.” They will check my identification for my name, but then they, too, will quickly forget. I can’t stop my mind from spiraling with these thoughts.
Another quiet whimper sneaks through my mouth and echoes forlornly in the empty room. My entire body yearns for a gentle touch, a loving caress.
If only someone were here. I have so much love to share, but at times like these I think perhaps I was designed to be alone, cruelly fated by a higher power to languish in my desolation.
I leave the couch and pad to the bedroom. At least the bed is comfortable. I jump onto the mattress and burrow under the blankets, wrapping them around me like a hug. I wish I could stay under the covers forever.
I arrange the blankets over my head to block out the meager light fighting to pierce the curtains. The complete darkness gives me some momentary respite, a safe cocoon, but all too quickly, the feelings of abandonment return.
The depression is exhausting, and my eye lids begin to droop heavily. I’m tired. I’m so tired of being trapped outside looking in at a world that has rejected me. What made me happy before? Why can’t I remember?
I start to drift off, desperately hoping for the peaceful oblivion of sleep to ease the pain of emptiness.
And then I hear a noise - the squeak of the front door’s unoiled hinges! I leap out of bed, heart racing, half dragging the blankets onto the floor as I dash into the living room.
No, it is my Human! And with her, she brings joy and new smells, and the world’s brilliance floods back into my heart at the sight of her. I run towards my Human, the most beautiful Human in the world.
She laughs and gives me a loving scritch behind my ear with the same hand that puts delicious food in my bowl. My tail wags uncontrollably as I think about the cuddles in my future.
“Sweet, silly puppy,” my Human says as I run circles around her legs. “You act as though I’ve been gone forever, but I just went to check the mail.”