Half the people disappeared from the world. Inexplicably. There was no apocalypse. No alien invasion or war to end all wars. People were just gone. Streets empty. Maybe it was more than half. Those of us who were left had no way of counting. At first, we couldn’t have if we tried. We were all too busy grieving.
It happened on a balmy, overcast summer night in Boston. I was standing on a crowded subway platform under orange halogen lights–the red line, Charles St., the river north, rows of little shops leading south towards the Common–when the eerie keen of collective loss arose all at once from those around me, and I turned to find Erin gone.
I retraced my steps, walking over every inch of ground we’d travelled that night, stopping at every corner, every store window. The whole way I had to fight against everyone else. They were all as distraught as I was, all occupied in the same task. But the people we were looking for weren’t there. Finally, again collectively, we all accepted they were gone. People sat on curbs staring into the silent streets, speechless. I got up sooner than the rest, resolved to systematically seek out every person I cared about, in order of shortest distance. Somewhere I found a bike. I rode across the bridge to Medford, but Amy wasn’t at her house. Who knew where she might be. So I took my bike and got back on the T, which was still crowded, though quieter now. I went to Brighton.
I found Diana sitting on the floor outside her room. She’d just come from home. My parents were gone. She didn’t know where Amy was, or Udi. So we got up and went into her room and just kind of sat there on the bed, listening to mp3s from her computer. We talked about how weird it was that everything still worked even though there was nobody to run it or use it. We could ride the subway and surf the internet, but the quiet and the mass grief had impressed upon us a sense that the world had ended and was empty, that we who were left didn’t count.
We decided we’d live together from now on. Exhausted from our search, emotionally drained, we agreed to go to sleep. She got up to take a shower. I lay down on the bed.