The Empty Car
The Empty Car
Toni came out to the car and found it empty.
Rupert was just in the passenger side mere minutes before, and then she went into the store and then round the back to the bathroom - she got a coke and went for a piss.
He was just sitting there reading a book.
He had his headphones in and he was barely acknowledging her or the scenery around them and it started to grate on her.
Then she went into the store.
And then she came back and faced an empty car.
Toni leaned through the window into the back seat and saw that there was nothing but the cheap upholstery of the 90s Audi. it stunk of leather and carpet.
She opened the boot. It seemed ludicrous that he’d even be in there and yet, she felt a crushing disappointment when the inevitability of an empty boot faced her.
She walked around the entire car four times. There were no footprints or any evidence that he was anywhere. That he’d even been there.
Even his book and headphones were gone.
She looked back at the petrol pumps and the adjacent convenience store. It was empty.
She looked at her watch. It was 5.07am. She looked at her phone. The signal was slight but the time was 5.11am.
The staff at the store were packing the shelves. She’d just come from there. He couldn’t be back in there.
She looked through the windows and it was staff only. A tiny little shop with about four shelves of food and booze (of course there’s booze in this country).
She went back to the toilets. The Male’s toilet was opposite the Female’s.
She put her ear to the door. It was quiet. She opened the door ever so slightly.
“Hello?” She bellowed.
She could hear her own voice echo back to her in the acoustic of the toilets.
She banged on the wall slightly. There was nothing. The toilet was empty.
She went back to the Female toilets and followed the same routine - just in case. He wasn't there.
Then that twisted anxious sinking feeling took hold. That feeling that there wasn’t just a lapse of communication and understanding, but that something grave had happened. Something which didn’t have a rewind button or a reverse switch. Something that couldn’t be glued back together or conveniently replaced.
Rupert - her fiance. The man that she had come to this country with. The very man that she loved and lived with. The man that she slept alongside and spent every day communicating with.
He had vanished.
And she was alone, in a country where she didn’t speak the language. Nor knew a single soul besides her vanished fiancee.
She took out her phone and dialed his number.
“Hello this is Rupert, I can’t come to the phone now…”
She switched the phone off in anger.
She went back to the car.
He was gone.
She felt sick. Her stomach had turned and flipped. She put her hand on the side of the car and fell to her knees. Almost against her own will. She just sank down to her knees.
Then she shook her head and pulled herself together and got back to her feet.
Call the police. Log a missing person report. Speak to the embassy. People don’t just go missing.
It’s been a couple of minutes for God’s sake.
Why the fuck are you panicking?
She remembered what she said to him as they drove through the forest. He was on her case about grinding the gears and it escalated from there in his usual, defensive, hot-headed, foul-tempered way. And then it got really nasty. Calling each other a cunt. Screaming. Punching the dashboard.
I hate you.
She said it, not him. She said it. Those awful words. Those nasty, malicious, hateful words.
Why don’t you fucking die?
She said that too.
I wish you’d just fucking disappear.
They were all her words.
And there she stood, looking at the empty car. The empty fucking car. The love of her life had vanished.
As if into thin air.
The car was completely empty and Rupert was gone.