By Dana Quell

The phone rang once, twice, then fell silent as the answering machine picked it up.  "I'm not in right now, but you can leave a message.  No guarantees I'll call you back though."  Beep.

She ran from her bedroom and burst into the living room, picking up the phone just in time to hear whoever was calling hang up.  Sighing, she glared at the phone and tossed it onto her futon, disheartened.  It had been the first phone call she had received in a week, and she was lonely for a human voice.

It wasn't as if she needed to hear a human voice; she'd just appreciate life a hell of a lot more if there was someone she could actually speak with about it.  She had always considered herself an independent woman, free of any unnecessary emotional ties to anybody, and for twenty three years she had never been proved wrong.  Until now.

She hadn't ventured outside in nearly a week and a half, having come down with a mild case of pneumonia two Wednesdays ago.  Now it was Saturday, and she was feeling much better physically.  But emotionally, mentally, she was feeling demoralised.   She loved her apartment, but she was going stir crazy.  She needed a change of scenery, yet wasn't sure exactly where she could go.

Glancing around her apartment, she looked for something to entertain her.  There was always the television; the dark, silent mass stood like a still funeral director who hadn't moved in years, the words "Fuck you" drawn in the dust.  The computer sat just as silent, without the dirt particles.  Maybe she could listen to music?  No, she had done that all week and had grown sick of her CDs and the sound of annoying DJ's voices.  The books lined up neatly on the bookcase were tempting, but she had read them all and none of them were interesting enough to read again.  Sighing, she paced the length of the living room, pausing for a few seconds to look out the window at the street below.  The sun was just setting, and a pale pink tinged the horizon.  Purple clouds of dusk hilighted the sky.  Out there, out in the twilight, were people living their lives, having escaped the prison their apartments might've been.

Her apartment was a prison, of that there was no doubt.  It was a pretty prison with plenty of things to do, but a prison none the less.  Here, she was locked away from the rest of humanity, the rest of the world.  Her phone and her computer were connections to these things, but of her own making she had isolated herself from even the sound of another human's voice.  Now that she could only imagine that there were other people in the world, she regretted that making.  She wished that she had taken the time in life to make more friends.  She wished she hadn't pushed the true ones away.

Oh, she had many acquaintances; of these she was not lacking.  But they were only people she would pass by on the few occasions she actually did venture out and say hello to.  Never anyone to actually stop and hold a conversation with.  Never anyone with whom she could discuss exactly what she was feeling.  A friend was someone who knows you intimately, someone to know intimately.  Someone who cared, who wanted you around.  Someone to call at the end of the day and say good night to.  Someone to share the setting of the sun with.

And she realised, staring out of this lone window at the pale streaks of pink that the sun had left behind in the darkening sky, that there was no one for her to share this with.  The people on the street below were all walking or jogging or driving back to their friends, lovers, or families; they could all share this sunset, or the sunset tomorrow, or the next day.  Who was there to watch this sunset with her?  No one.

She turned away from the window, unable to stand the depression watching the falling of the sun offered up.  Instead of turning on the tv or the radio, she walked into the kitchen in search of some sort of food.  She wouldn't eat because she was upset; rather she would eat because she simply had nothing better to do.

Her eyes shot around the little kitchen, searching for something, anything to relieve her mind of this boredom, this restlessness.  Nothing.  She hadn't gone grocery shopping in nearly two weeks, and since yesterday the same boredom had been present, she had eaten everything worth eating then.

Sighing, she was about to turn back into the living room to see if there was anything on the television when the remaining sunlight caught her attention by bouncing off of something coldly metallic resting upon the countertop.  Inspecting it closer, she found that it was the knife she had used to cut up the last apple last night.  She picked it up, feeling its weight in her hands, slowly turning it over and over as if to fathom every last millimeter of it.  It still had remaining apple bits on it; she hadn't bothered to do the dishes last night.

She cleaned it off meticulously, using hot water and a little bit of Dawn dish detergent.  Ignoring the rest of the dishes that waited for their own baths, she dried it off and took it with her into the living room.  The venetian blinds were open; they allowed fragments of the dying sun to fall softly upon her futon and dance there, a jubilant wake for its fallen comrade, a celebration of the coming night.  She sat next to the sunlight on the only part of the couch where there was no dance honouring the dusk, unwilling to disturb the light particles' festival, and stared at the frigid blade.

It could relieve her boredom for her.  It might be interesting to watch the blood, her blood, run from small, self-inflicted wounds on various points on her body to the floor.  It might be exciting to see just what paths the small red rivulets would take, what places her smooth skin would be stained crimson from the trail.  It could be entrancing.

The knife crept closer to a place on her skin where she knew that there were no major arteries.  After all, the point wasn't to kill herself.  The metal touched her skin, pushing it in gently at first and then more insistent until it broke the skin, granting the blood escape from the prison of vessels.  It slid downward, whispering through even more skin and granting release to even more blood until the river was almost a centimeter wide.

She watched with mild interest as the gore ran down her arm smoothly, regarding the path it chose to reach the floor with fascination for its autonomous unthinking.  Suddenly the phone rang, a shrill interruption to the quiet ceremony revering the silent gods of boredom.

She stared at the intrusion, angry for a moment that it had chosen that moment to ring.  And then she remembered that she was only doing what she was doing because she had no one to talk to.  With trembling hands slippery with blood, she grabbed for the phone.  "Hello?"