CLE ' S CREATIVE WRITING CONTEST WINNERS - 1ST PLACE - absence. If it really was so, then why did she wash his clothes from the closet, folded frame, a picture of his lovable grin and intense eyes, and she brought it closer as his voiced whispered her name. them all prim and proper whilst arguing with him about the right way to fold them? Why were his books still on the coffee table, bookmarked, waiting for his She leaned in as his siren-like voice gently lulled her into his grasp. Her name on his lips, his voice, her name, his lips, her song, his song — almost return? Why did she wash his favorite mug, his favorite bowl with the chip on the rim and restock her shelves with his favorite snacks bustling to the brim? Why was his workbag still placed on its side on the floor and his toothbrush leaning against hers in the ceramic cup? sounded like her home. Almost. Her watery eyes awoke at the pain in her palm, scarlet red where the key had locked into her meat flesh, buried into a nook. She heaved at the pain and timidly tried to yank it out. The tune around now a chaotic cacophony, her name, his Why was his laptop still open replaying their old videos, his voice haunting and echoing in this four-room apartment time capsule buried underground with dust-mud closing them in? She skittered into their bedroom and clambered onto their bed so that the wind would stop twisting his sweet voice to question her. Somehow, even when she had vacuumed and dusted, the wind found a way to bring more dust in, from where, she never knew. But she made sure, his side of the bed was left untouched. She clasped the beside photo lips, silver tears and sharp red. The key unhinged from her hand and she dashed toward the apartment door, the floor slipping out from under her. She burst into the hallway and slammed it shut. Crumbling to the floor, tear-stricken, opening her palm to find no hole in it but the key glinting, dust-mud grey. slipping rame, IT Magazine / April Issue 10