By Misha Cahill
It was all gone. Everything. The room looked smaller, like a cell. And I'd never noticed the paint peeling off the molding.
Nobody else was home. If my flatmates had been there, the thief wouldn’t have gotten away with it. Our building was an old office block in the red-light district, and the rooms still had glass windows onto the hallway.
Oddly, my room seemed to be the only one that had been emptied.
I put down my satchel. I'd carried most of my master’s thesis to university that day, intending to see my supervisor, but I’d chickened out at the last minute. In fact, I'd decided on the way home to drop out. And now this.
“I shouldn't be so upset,” I told myself. I'd always wanted to cut down on how much property I had—starving children in Africa, and so on. I still felt wounded, though. My photos. My books.
I called my boyfriend, Igor, on his mobile and surprised myself by bursting into tears when he answered. Perhaps it was partly because when he said, “Hellaw, Igor schpeaking,” I could tell that he was high.
He said he was just across the road and that he'd be right up. I leant against the wall. There was nothing to do. In my still room, the noise outside seemed louder than I remembered: Cars on K'Road, dishes being thrown into the sterilizer in the restaurant downstairs.
Igor arrived, green and sweaty, his eyes pinned.
“I'm going to call the cops,” I said.
“Oh, no. Don't do that yet. Those assholes. Make a list first. You need to write down all your things that are missing. First things first.”
He rummaged in his backpack and handed me an old red notebook and a thin, blue pencil with G'day From Cairns printed down the side in pink capitals.
There was a long silence as we both looked at the pencil. Igor spoke first.
“Okay, it's yours, isn't it?” His jaw trembled. “All right, all right, I did it. Not me only, though, it was not my idea. We couldn't even get anything for your stuff at the pawnshop.”
Misha Cahill has had stories published in Skive, Thieve's Jargon, Long Story Short, and Smokebox. She lives in Wellington and likes reading and watching television.
Photo "Silhouette Series 2" courtesy of Cathy Kaplan.
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