Lost by Marisha

Empty was all he could feel.

Disoriented, Charlie blinked at the blackboard in front of him, hanging slightly crooked off the garage wall.

He was alone. Finally he had peace and quiet to concentrate fully on his work, but then why was he feeling so utterly alone? Deserted?

Charlie angrily shook his head. Stupid! There was no logical reason for him to feel that way. But the feeling had crept up nevertheless, slowly but steadily all day - pushing HIS numbers away.

He sighed. There was no point now to continue. He moved to put the chalk down when his world suddenly tilted. The walls closed in on him, swallowing his reality. Shocked he stumbled backwards toward the sofa. But it continued! The boards, the numbers, no His numbers – His comfort, moved in on him, closer and closer, crushing him. He didn't have room to breathe! Crying out, he fell onto the couch and covered his eyes with his hands.

'No!' He cried desperately. 'Not you too!'

The emptiness seemed to swallow him and drag him further down into the couch. His breathing became ragged.

There was just no air left in the garage!

All around him was emptiness - nothingness. Nothing existed anymore - all became darkness, ready to consume him.

Don had left.

Don had left him!

Charlie tried to breath, which suddenly became such a difficult task.

'It's my fault! Again, again, again!'

Charlie rocked back and forth, while the evil voice in his ears would not stop chanting.

'He left because of you.'

'He left because of you.'

'Because of YOU!'

"No," Charlie moaned as he curled into the couch, trying to get a touch of reality.

'Don, please come back!'

The world was spiraling down an abyss and he was falling, down, down, down.

No! Don hadn't said anything. But Charlie had seen the look in his eyes.

'He never would,' chimed the evil voice. 'He wouldn't want to hurt you - all your fault, all your fault, all your fault.'

Defeated, Charlie hung his head.

'All my fault, my fault ... I drove him away. He had to leave before my shadow would suffocate him.'

'Oh Don - I never meant to ...' Charlie trailed off, gasping for air.

'Please forgive me. Don, please!' Charlie pleaded between ragged breaths.

'Darkness, no air - I'm dying.'

Panicking, Charlie grabbed his throat as if that would open the airways.

'Hey, buddy,' the memory of Don's soft voice rang through his head. "Breathe!"

Was that Don's hand on his shoulder? Charlie didn't dare to open his eyes to the emptiness.

'Put your head between your knees.'

'Don?'

Somewhere, the logical side of Charlie's brain tried to tell him that this was an illusion that Don couldn't be there. But the panic overruled and all Charlie wanted was for Don to be there. So he complied and put his head between his legs.

'Breathe - deep breath, buddy. That's right.'

'In – out'

'In - out'

'In – out. Just listen to my voice, buddy.'

Slowly Charlie regained a normal breathing pattern and the tightness around his chest seemed to loosen.

'In and out'

'In and out'

"Don?" Carefully Charlie opened his eyes and lifted his head.

The garage appeared normal, the numbers on the boards looked innocently at him. All was in place except...

Except Don was not there.

Exhausted, Charlie leant back into the couch.

Don had left for Albuquerque.