Hiding Game
Emily Eckart

 

bedroom-517747-mShe looks for his face in the faces of others: for tanned skin and dark almond eyes; for stark eyebrows over long, soft lashes. She watches for briskness of step, toned biceps, short legs. In crowds she spots pieces of him—back of head, sharp profile, crossed arms—but always the subject moves in a foreign way, revealing himself a stranger.

Six months have passed since he failed to arrive at her place, since he started neglecting texts, calls, and emails. She flooded his phone with voicemails until the inbox was full. He had recently given her the key to his apartment, so she traveled forty minutes by bus and took the elevator to the fifth floor. She jiggled the key in the lock and swung the door wide open, calling his name.

The leather couch stood in its place by the window, flanked by the glass coffee table. In the bedroom, the powder blue comforter stretched neatly across the mattress. She opened a dresser drawer: all socks matched, all boxers folded. She checked under the bed, in the closets, behind doors. He was nowhere. The only clue: a tentative layer of dust on all surfaces, smooth and undisturbed.

Now, six months later, the police have discovered no leads. Maybe they are in on it, this hiding game, this elaborate joke that might end with a reveal, laughter, relief. Maybe she will discover it was all a mistake, an erroneous address, digits of the apartment transposed—and he, down the hall, waiting.

She feels his presence nearby, warm and watching. She hears his voice when she drives alone, his admiration when she sheds clothes for a shower. When she presses her nose into his gray cashmere sweater, she can catch his scent. He is here, somewhere not far from this place. Eventually, she is sure, she will find him.

 

Emily Eckart studied Music and English Literature at Harvard University. Her fiction has appeared in Potomac Review, Literary Orphans, and elsewhere. Visit Emily here.