Marie woke slowly to the smell of coffee brewing. What a terrible nightmare. She lay there in the soft warmth, protected from the cold around her. She fought to overcome the terror that still had her heart pounding.
“Bill?” She reached for the comfort he would give her. His side of the bed was cold. It can’t be true. “Bill?” Still no answer. She forced her eyes open. Grayness greeted her. Slippers waited to protect her from the chill of the floor tiles that bent to nip her feet. Marie looked around. The house was empty. Wooden furniture stood to attention, offering little solace.
The end was near. There was nothing she could do about it. A year ago, maybe, when Hank brought the basket to the anniversary party, but now Bill and the others were gone. Soon she’d join them. Who would have believed something like this could happen? She wasn’t really sure what it was, only the destruction it brought.
Marie crept to the kitchen. She poured strong black liquid into Bill’s favorite cup. Preferring it black, she still filled the remaining half with milk, adding three spoons of sugar. This had become her waking tradition. With the constant dusk that enveloped the planet, she slept and woke when she felt like it. There was no job to go to, no purpose to take her outside. There were few others left. Their little pocket in the coastal region of the mid-western hemisphere, offered a unique, quiet life.
In the living room, the couch faced a small hearth. Dark and cold, there hadn’t been a fire in it since the night of their tenth anniversary. On the mantel above, the container with Bill’s ashes kept her company. That was all the warmth she wanted.