It's not mine, obviously.

They didn't understand. None of it mattered. Not anymore. How could it? How could anything ever matter again? The possibility simply no longer existed. It never even came up. Eating, sleeping, drinking, working… It all just became a task, just another task of an endless, never ceasing, list, another tick in a meaningless box. Cold and mechanical like the motion of the earth around on its axis, around and around and around… day and night, and then day again… the sun moving across the sky… the seasons as they came and went… the beat of his heart he no longer felt but knew was there all the same for he still existed, simply existed, but did not live.

No, his life had left him the day she had died. It would never be the same again, could never be the same again. How could it? How could anything ever be the same again? When he had lost a part of his soul? The only thing, the only one, who had made his life seem worth while day after wretched day.

They didn't understand. How could they? They expected him to go on as though nothing had happened. And he did. On the outside. They didn't understand. On the inside he was dead. He felt nothing. He couldn't let himself feel anything. Because the moment he did, the great gaping empty space that had once been Cathy would open up and swallow him, pulling him further into darkness and despair, and nothing would ever be able to replace that.

He didn't feel cold. He didn't fell hot. But he pretended. It was all he could do. All there was left now. Perhaps in time he would forget he was pretending? Perhaps one day he could rewrite his reality? But for now, he felt nothing.

His heart was buried alive. His brain simply ran the shop whilst the soul was hidden away out back, scared and frightened and alone. The customers never noticed, never asked. He liked it that way. It was almost bearable that way. And that was how he existed, simply existed.

Some nights he would go out onto the steps and stare up at the stars through all that orange smog and haze. Just watch the stars as they moved across the sky and the sky turned from dark to light, pretending to feel the cold and how the sun warmed his face, imagined how the earth would look from way out there amongst the ageless stars.

He wondered if she was out there, amongst the stars, or heavens, or whatever it was people with lives believed in. He thought maybe a star had died that day with her and maybe one had, but no matter, he would never live to see it, so many millions of years. He laughed fakely at the thought. When he thought how old the light that graced this earth must be. Wondered of the life that light had seen, those stars had seen. And the death. Wondered about a great many things. But never her, not even once. He simply did not allow the thought to enter into his head, the words to enter into any conversation.

She was gone. She wasn't coming back. That was all… All there was to it. He told himself he lived with it, but knew this wasn't living, this was simply waiting to die, this existence.

Perhaps, once or twice, a thousand times or more – he didn't know anymore, had given up counting – perhaps he had prayed "god speed" for the end. Perhaps he had even stopped by a church and given an offering. She had believed after all. But he didn't like to think about that. He never thought about that. He never remembered her face or her eyes, or that smile. He would never dream in his dreams.

She was gone. He was left. That was all… And life moved on. The earth never stopped. The clock never smashed. The sun never exploded. The world never flooded.

No, none of that happened, but he never saw her face anymore. A little of the warmth had gone from the world, a little of the cheer from song. Just another dead thing. Snuffed. Busted. Faulty appliance. Expendable. Replaceable.

She was never coming back. The sun rose up through the stratosphere, warming the earth with its solar energy, plants began their cycle of photosynthesis, people began their endless nine-to-five jobs.

Sydney stood stiffly and walked inside to make himself a coffee with chicory like she had liked, began again the endless cycle of events and routine that was existing, and listened as the clock ticked away the time the way it had always done.