By Dana Quell

The room is empty.

Did I expect him to stay after last night? Did I, in my naivete, really dare to hope that he would still have come in this morning, bright and cheery and with words of apology bursting from his lips? I suppose I did, because I couldn't imagine a day where he wouldn't be there.

But the room is empty, and there are no issues of "I'm sorry" echoing off the walls. Instead, there is simply me, standing in the middle of all this vacuity. I close my eyes for a moment, just a second, to allow myself to realise that he is not here.

I am still clutching my briefcase. Its handle is the only solid thing I can feel; its smooth leather is warm in my hand. I put it down on his desk -- the only desk in the room.

I stifle a bitter laugh, as if he's standing right next to me and would be offended by it. He would be offended, yes, but he is not here. I do not have to restrain myself.

The desk. We were arguing about the damn desk. His desk. His and only his, and how if I were to have a desk of my own, we wouldn't have any room to move. It only escalated from there. I kick it.

Did he quit? Was he too hurt by the anger he heard in my voice last night to even come back to say goodbye one final time?

The phone rings and shatters any unthought questions.

The voice at the other end shatters my mind. He is dead. He drove away last night into the soup that was the rain, angry at me and the choices that were his own that lead him there, and failed to miss a tree. He is dead.

I hang up the phone. The room is empty, and he is dead. I steady myself on the desk and bitterly do not restrain my laughter. He can not be offended now.

The friendship I have never reflected upon has been ripped from me. He will never come strolling into this room again, bright and cheery from his new caffeine addiction. He will never try to cheer me up after failed relationship upon failed relationship. I will never have another minute to confide in him, much less the seven years we've had before now.

I once thought that all people fade from life the same way; slowly, with time, like a well roasted goose cooks. It is not true of him. He has burned for years and the tree he ran into only acted as spark kindling, setting him to flare and die before his time.

If I had not made the desk such a big issue, would he be here now, shattering the silence with words that needed no apologies? I couldn't imagine a day without him before, and he is dead. The future I never reflected upon is here. He is not. The room is empty.

There is simply me. And I am clutching at straws over his death, trying to make it less real. This is not happening. But it is, and maybe I'm trying to make it more real, more believable. This will not fade away.

This desk is my desk now. I kick it. He is dead and he is gone and he will never be again, and somehow it is all the desk's fault. I pound my fists on it and bleed my knuckles raw, but the desk is still there. He is not.

The room is empty. Did I expect him to spend eternity here? Did I truly expect him to live forever? I suppose I did, because the alternative was too gruesome for me to consider. But the alternative is here. Today's the first day he isn't here.

I laugh, bitterly, and clutch at the desk edges.