There was nothing there.
Zeka stood in the doorway, looking back at her flat. It was normal in its chaotic untidiness. Her work briefcase lay where she’d dropped it last night as she came in late, struggling to juggle it and the takeaway she’d picked up as she’d come past the shop on her way home. The one carton she’d opened before she’d fallen asleep on the sofa still had the fork standing up in it. The room smelt of curry.
Zeka had woken up, stiff and aching on the sofa with the TV snowing dead air across the screen. She hadn’t thought much about it at the time. These days TV was there 24 hours a day every day. The snowy screen wasn’t even a thing of her youth. She only ever saw it when the cable box was off, and she’d forgotten to turn it on.
From the doorway, she saw the cable box light was green.
The radio in the bathroom she turned on to listen to the news in the mornings as she showered and prepared herself to face the world, was silent. Maybe its battery had not gone after all, as she’d assumed.
She stood on the edge of her flat’s front door as close as she dared.
She looked down.
She looked left and right.
She looked up.
It was white, empty, like a blank page waiting for the rest of the world to be written upon it.
Zeka stepped back inside her hallway and picked up her work briefcase, stepping back when it overbalanced her. She had memories of a hard day at work, lugging a briefcase stuffed with files through the vagaries and misfortunes of the city’s woeful public transport system.
She remembered putting the bag down on the floor of the takeaway with relief as she waited for her order. Then the struggle to get through the downstairs door of the apartment block with a key that always stuck in the lock and turned the opposite way to every other key in every other lock she had ever known.
Now the briefcase was empty.
The flat smelt of curry. But as she hurried back into the front room, she saw the carton was empty, even though the fork still stood up in it.
As though its falsity had been found out and it could no longer keep up the pretence any longer, the fork fell over and clattered on her coffee table.
The lights in her flat flickered once and then went out.
Zeka could see dimly outlined shaped in the glow from the white nothingness outside her still open front door.
She stood, hands on hips turning in a slow circle. She nodded once. ‘All right,’ she said out loud to the emptiness around her. ‘Get on with it.’
The lights came back on. She saw there was curry back in the aluminium tray. Out in the hall, her overstuffed briefcase fell on its side, spilling out papers across the floor. The papers were blank, but Zeka didn’t mind that.
After all, once her author finished writing the outside world for her, her real story would begin. She’d leave that job – whatever it was – for a new adventure out in that world beyond this flat. She stepped out into the freshly painted hallway.
Zeka closed the door of her flat and strode into a newly written world where her story would begin.