He stepped inside and called out. “Mary, Mary are you here?” His voice was hollow in the bare room and he realised that much of the furniture was missing. The table where they had shared breakfast, the chairs where they had sat side by side, had all gone. A stained sofa, usually occupied by her cat, was the only seat left in the kitchen.
“Mary, where are you?” He called again and began running through the cottage, refusing to believe that she had gone without telling him.
“Are you alright? What has happened?” As he entered each room he half expected to see a battered figure lying on the floor, but there was no one, dead or alive. He wondered if the cottage had been ransacked, after all, there had been many valuable works of art here and they were all gone, apart from the painted panels and walls, their dancing figures the only animation in the house. But then finally, on the front door mat, he found a few circulars and a Royal Mail letter. He tore it open. It confirmed that the mail would be forwarded, so he knew she really had gone for good.
“Damn you Mary,” David cried, choking sobs erupting. “Where the hell are you?”
He began to search everywhere more thoroughly, hoping she might have left behind some tiny, forgotten clue. In the sitting room fireplace there were half burnt letters, bills and bank statements. He sifted through them and they disintegrated in his hands. Scorched paper, ash and soot drifted into the hearth.
He opened every cupboard in the kitchen, but they were completely empty apart from a half full bottle of tequila and some scattered grains of rice. He was tempted to take a swig from the bottle, but he left it there and ran upstairs again. In the bathroom there was only an old, stained bath mat and a cracked bar of soap, the tap dripping. The main bedroom was empty apart from a table lamp without a shade. He switched it on, but the bulb was dead. He opened the cupboard in the corner, but there was nothing but a few wire hangers swinging on the rail. David knocked them impatiently and they rattled and taunted him.
to be continued Monday, February 1