When You're Alone



by Jonah Koenigseker

Karen was gone. She had been gone for three weeks now and I didn’t know what to do with myself. Due to the season, friends and family called to wish me happy holidays and inquire about how I was doing being that it was the first Christmas without Karen.  The calls were appreciated, but invariably the well-wisher would quickly be escorted off by whiny, over caffeinated children or a demanding wife to perform some tired annual ritual. During the lulls between calls, I began to feel an intense tinge of loneliness. Christmas had always been a time of cheerful gatherings and exciting festivities for me.  Now I was living hundreds of miles away, on the outskirts of Detroit, and while their well wishes were somewhat comforting, I was still alone.

Following an adjustment phase, I made the decision to cure the emotional and mental paralysis ailing me. The first few days of the next week I immersed myself in repetitive, tedious work, something to occupy my muscles and mind. Cleaning. Folding clothes. Going through and organizing the boxes in storage, something Karen always nagged me about doing. I missed her, even the sometimes incessant nagging.
By Thursday afternoon I completed the household chores, crossing the final one off the list I had created to track my progress and throwing the crumpled piece of paper in the trash. There was nothing remotely watchable on television, especially now that I had cut back, canceled the satellite dish and resorted to basic cable. I still had time off from work, though, and I needed something to occupy my time. I checked my work e-mail, but my mailbox was empty. Even work would be a pleasant reprieve from the solitude I was experiencing. In search of something to do, I walked into the kitchen and noticed the cupboards were beginning to look bare, so I decided to make a trip to the supermarket the next morning. A trip I use to take with Karen.

The next morning I spent nearly two hours at the market deciding I would stock the fridge and cupboards just in case a blizzard trapped me inside the cramped one bedroom apartment. Before my selection of products had been based solely on the product’s price, but this morning I made a point to review the health facts, dragging my index finger across the information printed on the boxes and cans. Calories per serving, vitamin A, sodium, I examined it all meticulously. Karen had been worried about my health.

When I arrived home I unloaded the car full of groceries.  My muscles strained and it felt good in a pleasantly sadistic way.  Endorphins shot up my neck and towards the receptive neurons and the human opiate reminded me to take a trip to the pharmacy the next time I was out. My hands ached, still tender from the accident and I needed something more sustainable to numb the pain.

Again, I checked my work e-mail and again there was nothing unless I was counting the few generic holiday messages, probably copied and pasted from the previous year’s greeting and sent out in a blanket e-mail. All the groceries were put away, the cupboards now overflowing with unnecessary non-perishables. I ate lunch later than usual on account of the grocery trip and was content to know it would shorten the rest of my day. While at college my mother had given me a cookbook, something to keep me from relying on burgers and tacos.  I prepared a new recipe that took me about an hour and a half. Not long after I was once again looking desperately for something to cure my boredom. The afternoon’s lineup of shows were the usual; reruns of decades old sitcoms, talk shows and a racial assortment of judges. Around three I began staring lazily at an infomercial and fell asleep, but woke up forty minutes later more tired than before. That night I remained awake. I couldn’t sleep right, now that Karen was gone. I could still smell the aroma of the body lotion she used before laying down to bed. The glow from the moon displayed the still visible contours of her body on the face of the mattress. At four in the morning, I moved to the couch and was able to grab less than two hours of undisturbed sleep before the alarm rudely made its announcement.

The weekend was a monotonous two and half days of torture. My nocturnal habits had been knocked off course like a barreling train being released from its trusty steel rails. Of course, my sleep hadn’t been the same since Karen was gone. Progressively it was worsening and outside regular visits to the pharmacy, I was finding it hard to cope.

On Tuesday afternoon, I realized I needed to get out of the apartment, so I showered, shaved and searched for anywhere where I could spend idle time walking and people watching. When I had gone to the supermarket I had felt as if a weight had been lifted. For a moment, I imagined the dulling pain from my reclusiveness being absorbed by unsuspecting bystanders in doses too minute to make any considerable difference to them. It was only three by the time I had exhausted the mall, hardware store and a used book store. Earlier, I had been so immersed in a new Bentley Little novel that I skipped lunch entirely. Dinner wasn’t for another few hours, but I decided it best to eat now. Despite the other day’s forage, I decided to eat out. The company of others had either boosted my spirits or digested a share of my pain. Regardless, Karen was gone and I would have to save money, so I ended up resorting to fast-food and promised myself I would start eating healthier tomorrow. Slowly, I drove to the far side of town hoping the round trip would consume more time. Someone behind me laid on their horn. I waved back enthusiastically with a one finger greeting.





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This is me: home-writer, book-reader, dog-lover and occasional poet. I make this website to share my and my friends texts with You, dear Reader. Please: read carefully, don't be scary, upgrade your mood and be king and leave your comment. :)