By Parson Thru
I had a thought.
Why hadn't I tried this earlier? I had Maggie's mobile number on my phone. I could just ring her. As I tramped against the short-tempered rush-hour traffic, belief began to grow that the whole situation was a mistake that had got tragically out of hand. The sun sank behind the city roofs as I ran multiple scenarios through my frantic mind.
I needed time to think this through carefully. A coffee. l would grab a coffee and slow things down again. Now well into the shopping centre, I walked into a cafe and ordered an Americano with milk. The cafe was pretty much empty, but the barista seemed to take an age. Twice she asked me to repeat my order. Maybe I did mumble a little. I don't know. I finally paid her and found a seat outside. I stared into the dark, swirling liquid as I stirred in the sugar.
What if Maggie was was really dead? Who might answer her phone? Maybe no one. Maybe they're monitoring her voicemail. Her family don't know me. They probably wouldn't return the call and I'd be right back where I started, only worse - waiting for a call that may never come. I scrolled through my contacts till I came to her name. "Maggie Mob" was illuminated. All I had to do was tap the screen.
Surely she's dead, you idiot. Just because you can't accept it - why would anyone go to the extreme of informing her place of work if she wasn't? What the hell has got into you?
Commuters were now hurrying past the cafe. Daylight had given way to sodium and the soothing contra-flow of red and white lights. None of the passers-by seemed to notice as my body convulsed with grief.
That night, I dreamt that I awoke to find Maggie beside me on the pillow. She smiled her friendly smile, this time full of sympathy. She stroked my hair and we spoke in silences. Finally, she moved her head close to mine and kissed me once, gently, on the lips.
In the morning, I woke slowly, filled with relief that the whole day had been a disturbing dream, and that Maggie was far from dead.
Gradually, as the world of dreams slipped from me, I realised my awful mistake. My jaw ached and soon the pillow was wet with my bitter tears.