Sky

He is one hundred feet from his front door, almost to the sidewalk. He is wearing grey trousers and a black wool overcoat, which is buttoned to fight the cold, with help from a scarf, which is also grey. Underneath the coat he’s wearing a light blue shirt with the top button undone, bits of the collar peaking from under the scarf, two wedges of sky on an otherwise overcast outfit. He has on his nicest shoes, which he shined earlier in the day. His hair is slicked tight against his head, parted and combed from right to left. His face is thin and clean-shaven. He is wearing black gloves. He is standing completely still.

Five minutes before he left his house, he hung up the phone. Five minutes before he hung up the phone, he listened to what was said to him. Before he listened, he took five minutes to say what he’d meant to say, and five minutes before he said what he’d meant to say, he took a drink, combed his hair and reached for the phone.

A neighbor sits in her living room across the street and watches him. His feet are slightly more than shoulder width apart as he stands there near the sidewalk. It seems, to her, an unnatural way to stand. She wonders what he is doing, where he might be going, as she watches him slick his hair down with his right hand. She is worried but not sure why. She wants to keep her eye on him, but now her view is blocked by a moving van heading west.

A cat lies on her lap and wonders and worries about nothing as she scratches it behind the ears.

Inside his house, all the dishes are washed, dried and put away. His bed is made. All the lights are off. The thermostat is turned down to an efficient 64 degrees. The rooms are vacuumed, even under the sofas and desks and bookshelves. The backdoor is locked. The front door, to make this one thing easier for his friends and family, he has left unlocked. They will find a note on his laptop, in the middle of his dining room table next to his phone, wallet, keys, and relevant papers.