“What exactly was the point of dinner parties?” she wondered.
Sure, they were great while they were going, but afterwards….
Afterwards, the void somehow seemed larger than it had before.
Somehow, the space looked cavernous – once filled with people, now filled with nothing, as if her friends had left a vacuum in their wake. The space that had once seemed tiny – barely big enough to host a half-dozen people for dinner, with extra chairs needing to be swiped from the lobby downstairs because she hadn’t had enough seating – looked huge, now that they had gone. She almost felt as though she could call out and hear an echo.
She walked around the apartment, followed by the quiet jingling of Rufus’ collar, taking in the messy dishes, still on the table, the candles burnt down to flickering nubs, now smelling more of smoke than flowers.
It was strange how absence can sometimes feel so much greater than presence. How loneliness can seem like a physical thing, in the room with you.
Finished with her casual inspection and still too listless and lazy to do anything about it, she flopped onto the big, soft couch, allowing Rufus to clamber up beside her. She lay a hand on his furry head and scratched him behind the ears.
She looked down at him.
“It’s strange,” she told him. “I shouldn’t feel lonely now. I mean, they’ve only just left, right?”
“Woof,” Rufus said.
He intended it in the most comforting way, but what he really wanted to say was “Pet me, please.” Which was fine, since she did so anyway.
She reached for the remote, automatically about to turn the TV on, and then put it back down. She didn’t need noise right now. Perhaps the silence would be good for her.
“Do you ever get lonely, Rufus?” she asked.
“Woof,” he said insistently, which here was code for “Rub my belly, please.”
“I guess not,” she said.
Rufus struck her as the kind of dog who was quite happy keeping his own company. Certainly he was happy enough to see her when she got home, but she suspected he also managed to keep himself quite busy when she was gone. Quite honestly, she wouldn’t be surprised if he was working on his novel in her absence. And, no doubt, his novel would be better than hers, would be immediately picked up by a publisher and scorch the bestseller lists and would make millions of dollars.
She sighed and shook her head at the image of Rufus at a book-signing, sunglasses perched on his furry brown face, looking super-cool as he handed out autographs – or paw prints, as the case may be.
She looked grimly over at the dining room table, crowded with plate and empty wine glasses.
“I guess I should get started on cleaning up, shouldn’t I?” she asked.
“Woof,” Rufus said, which here meant “Stay and pet me a while longer.”
But in this instance, sad to say, Rufus did not get his wish.
20 minutes / dialogue / after the guests have left
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