She took the stairs two at a time, slowing as she neared her floor. It was odd, she thought, how habits carry us through even when the world has changed. She hesitated at her apartment door, absent-mindedly running her thumb over the key in her hand. Finally she acknowledged that she couldn’t stand in the hall forever.
With a sigh and a mental shake, she entered her home. At first glance, everything looked the same. The parrot gave her his usual disgruntled greeting, shaking his bell with excessive force. Still, she could feel a strange emptiness hanging over everything.
She kept it at bay as she hung up her coat, set down her bag, and took off her shoes. It wasn’t until she caught sight of the vacant dog bed out of the corner of her eye that she collapsed into sobs.