He gets from the bath dry. The tap drips and his head burns.
‘Grace?’ he yells.
The bathtub screams as the pipes suck down the cold water. He tries to remember filling it. He tries to remember the sensation of being underwater but there’s nothing stored. He’s searching for memories that haven’t been filed. The drawer’s empty.
He walks naked through the house. None of the furniture is his and the walls have been moved and repainted. He touches one. It’s dry.
The lounge is two brown chairs and an old television.
In the bedroom is a made bed. He checks her bedside table. None of her books are there, nor her makeup. He checks the cupboard. It’s bare except for one black suit which he takes out and lays on the bed.
It feels expensive.
There’s bread on the kitchen counter. He toasts two slices and eats them plain. Then he picks up the phone hanging on the wall. He has numbers, thousands of them. But they run through his hands like sand. He pinches a few and dials.
‘¿Hola?’ a man says.
He hangs up, his fingers slide off the plastic and drop by his side. His head’s on fire and the house is drenching him in fuel.
The suit fits well. A bit tight around the neck. His phone, wallet, and car keys are with the other misplaced things. He walks outside.
The sun’s almost down. He’s standing on a cement path that runs along a single story building. A neon sign flickers Vacant over a wide highway. Beyond the bitumen is desert and beyond the desert is a city. He tries to remember which, but all the buildings are sandcastles and they crumble when he touches them. He walks to the office at the end of the building. The door’s locked and banging on it doesn’t summon anyone.
There’s cigarettes in his front pocket. A moment of relief as he pulls them out. The moment wanders off while he looks for a lighter, and it keeps wandering because the lighter’s gone with the wallet and the keys and the phone. There is a piece of paper though, folded twice in his left pocket. He opens it.
‘Why are you sorry?’ he says to the paper.
‘Where are you?’
He scrunches it and tosses it over his shoulder.
An unlit cigarette sticks from his mouth, useless but welcome.
There’s an immense impact against the back of his head and then nothing.
The cement is cold against his cheek. He rolls over and his head tries to keep rolling along the path but he catches it and feels the spot that aches. Sticky. His fingers come back red.
‘Grace,’ he says.
He lifts himself up. The sun’s down and the fluoro lights above the cement path flicker.
Back inside he stands in front of the phone, unable to remember the emergency number. Instead he checks the television. The news is on. He’s trying to listen but the newscaster’s words are flying past him like arrows. He realises it’s Spanish.
He opens the door and rechecks the neon sign.
He finds the paper scrunched up outside his neighbour’s door. He flattens it out.
His hands slap over his mouth but the words flutter out in front of him anyway. He swats them away.
A phone rings inside. He rushes to answer it.
‘¿Hola?’ he says.
The line clicks on the other end. He presses the phone hard into his ear and shuts his eyes.