by Pamela Hobart Carter

One morning, it’s quiet.

One morning, he isn’t down first, brewing the sputtering espresso, opening and banging doors and drawers for newspapers and spoons.

One morning, you’re first.

You don’t understand until you check the clock on the stove, the clock on the microwave, your wristwatch, and add all the numbers for the same result.

Your heart hammers, your feet pound up the stairs and race to his door—shut, and darkening the hall. (Only half-awake, you missed this on your way down, the too-dark hall. He likes to air his room and let the day circulate.)

The Handle Comet
Scott Robinson via Creative Commons

Hand-on-knob, you hesitate. He’s just sleeping in.

For the first time ever?

He was tired last night.

Too tired.

The soft noises from the other side of his door may be a sleeper’s long breaths or the curtains luffing in the morning breeze.

You draw your hand away, step backwards a couple of paces, turn, and walk to the kitchen where you linger over buttered toast and a hard-boiled egg. The house has a lovely stillness. It smells of singed crust and newsprint. The Times is entirely your own. It is possible to savor your coffee in this solitude.

One morning, you’re first, and too happy to understand this is how death sounds.

Pamela Hobart CarterPamela Hobart Carter has worked as a geologist and teacher before becoming a writer. A few of her short, short plays have been produced in Seattle where she lives. More about Pam and her writing is at and