the day the world went away (quiet)
Was it sad that it took a lot to surprise or set her back anymore? There wasn't a lot that would make Roman stagger back with any kind of shock these days, which wasn't to say that was cool. There were weird, awful things that were happening all around everyone - and everything just settled in her stomach like a rock. It was a thing that happened. It was whatever, which was something she'd said when she was younger when there was no hope of changing anything at all, that's what you did when you were that young. You were internally frustrated and angry, but outwardly that was a different story, and frankly, she'd been getting sick of how she'd been wearing a few things on her sleeves anymore. There were just some things that weren't worth the time that would, inevitably, give her the ulcer that would probably burst her stomach. And that was not a day she was looking forward to - she could picture it very, very clearly. Now she had two ways she was sure she could die. Shot in the back of the head (and god only knows where she got that from, but that was the one she'd seen since she was small) - and carried out on a stretcher from work from the wrong bite of soup in the winter. These were menial worries in light of the thing that happened. Intellectually, she was fairly positive the likelihood of her being shot in the back of the head was pretty slim in the first place, but, it was like girls voices in empty bathrooms, it just freaked her out if she thought about it for too long.

Not that any of that was ultimately important - the weird thing that happened had nothing to do with any of those scenarios playing out. And every day she'd gotten home from work, she'd walk around the spot near the sofa where it'd happened. Pushing out the coffee table just enough so she could fit herself where Tara had been sitting, to the point that she'd gotten out the same color polish, put her pajamas back on and tried to arrange the pieces of the game on the table and tried to re-create it a little, the 10 year old inside of her was disappointed, but mostly in that she thought there was even the slightest whim of a thought that it'd work in the first place. This had happened each and every night save for when it happened. When it happened, she let out a weird wail of a noise, made the downstairs neighbor come to check on her, well, her husband. And while it was very sweet, there wasn't very much that could have been done. He asked what the matter was, did she need to come down - making wide eyes at the question, like the real question just hiding under the words 'are you safe, do you need anyone to call the police' - and Roman looked him over with a sheepish, tiny forced smile and shook her head, no. The thud was her falling face first into the hardwood, that's what she got for saying they could have three cats, right? Little bastards trying to get underfoot all the time - and as if on cue, Czarina circled around her ankles and looked up at him expectantly, like she as was trying to corroborate with Ro's story. He was satisfied after they stood there in the hall with the door closed, the cat in her arms - back-and-forthing over how nice it was that she'd moved back, even if the circumstances weren't so great - and that new girl that lived with her! She was so sweet, little awkward sometimes, though. Which made her force a chuckle in agreement, she is a very sweet girl.

But that was the first night, first nights are always greatly different then how anything feels once you settle into the rhythm. And this one, unsurprisingly, was cold and lonely and a bigger more hollow feeling than she'd felt before. Which, if she gave it it's due, was pretty impressive. Tuesday was spent yelling at the television and more coffee than she'd drank since she was driving down the east coast. It was terrible, it was stay in and find that old bag of the weird flavor she hadn't bothered with over Christmas coffee by the time the sun started to peek out from behind the clear, clear sky and the start of the smell of the heat and the sunshine wafting up to meet her open window. Any more it was starting to smell like being smothered, the longer the summer decided to stay - not that she didn't expect it to stay for, well, as long as it generally did. It was just the way the year stuck hard in the ground, it had it's roots tangled up so many legs and eventually, the year would strangle the bones into cracking. Those things happened -- and maybe that's what it would be, maybe the ground would open up and splinter everybody's bones and everything would start over (more like Futurama, less like the Bible).

Now when she got home, she locked the door behind her quickly and checked all the rooms. Something might have been hiding there that wasn't a cat, checked the phones, checked the emails she could - everything just quiet. Quiet and kind of dead except for a few things she had to take home to finish from the office, advertisements, awful things that weren't things she wanted to come home to. All the roads weren't empty so much, there weren't any real empty chairs anywhere she found herself when she was out in the world, but it felt smaller and bruised. And then came the paranoid thoughts - it took them longer than normal. This time bubbling up while she couldn't sleep, laying there on the sofa looking at the empty places in the apartment, the empty places in the street, on her phone, in the world - these people, these events were real but to what point were they real. Or was she actually finally losing her mind. That was always an option - there seemed to be someone suffering from some kind of mental break quarterly, maybe this was just her turn. What if by some weird chance, everyone was still there and she was just not seeing them. Of course, that wouldn't really explain the fact that she was fairly sure people were being looked for, that there was random whispers back and forth at that one cafe she usually went to for lunch. Or the bars. There were always specific cars at the bars she passed by on the way home and those cars were not there. But that easily could have been the break at work -- but if you're sitting and going through all the ways you might be going crazy, wasn't that a clue that you weren't? She hummed to herself while mulling these things over as she curled up on the sofa as best she could.

Tuesday night came with a creeping uneasy feeling, it had been that long and nobody'd popped back up. Not one word, not a secret message, not anything written backwards on a bathroom mirror, no phone glitches, no nothing. Which lead to the sinking feeling of, these people all have lives. They have lives and people that depend on them and they're gone and the people that depended on them were generally without luxury of knowing anything about anything - and she did. The uneasy feeling slowly building into a grimy weight that was settling into the joints on her shoulders as she'd picked herself up from her seat, ran through the halls and got her clothes back on (they were dirty, it was scummy, she wasn't in a position where she cared all that much). Around cats and digging through an old, old purse that had - much to probably the chagrin of most of the people she'd ever slept with, a ring of keys, keys to all sorts of doors, keys that still worked.

Of course, first there was the trip to the bank and smelling all the smells on the way over, there was a weird little fish joint on the way over that always smelled like it wanted Ro to eat everything inside and then some - and even after all of this... whatever it was, she could still enjoy it for what it was. ..and they had good hush puppies. Not that it mattered really, it would just be a -- if things ever went back to normal (they wouldn't, she knew they wouldn't. This would be optimism rearing it's unwanted head at the worst time)... Having not slept for as long as she had, she'd driven slowly and had to squint at the screen on the ATM a few times, thankful that the couple that was after her were waiting in their car in the parking lot having some sort of argument in the mean time while she got out a considerable sum of money before stuffing it into her bra -- couldn't trust purses or pockets.

The ride over wasn't dark or scary, nothing was weird or out of place really on the street or in the buildings on the way over - it was just knowing what wasn't there anymore, what just up and left after everything. Not like they weren't ever there in the first place, obviously, but the suddenness, but the deep wrap around the muscles fear that it might not ever happen again, that was there. That might have made the car ride as quiet and as off putting as it really was. ..and then the quick stop to a Walmart that she had to drive half an hour to find because everything else didn't seem to believe in being open all night. A stack of envelopes and a new doll later, Roman got back in the car and started making out the envelope, writing Harry's ex's name on the front, and another half an hour to drive around so she could remember where the hell that woman lived in the first place. Writing 'love, dad' with a heart around the back end of the envelope before she stuffed it into their letterbox, padding the bills out with a little extra so that Harry might, maybe, possibly have some breathing room in the next month -- she just hoped she wasn't the sort of person who wouldn't spend it on the kid, immediately regretting not just getting her a new outfit after driving away. One down -- the next was to drive all the way back and remember which key was.. there it was.

Rifling around things that belonged to other people wasn't exactly new to her, just not something she did very often anymore. Tonight's adventure was find the cellphone with a measure of making the bed before you leave because you are that person, Roman. You were always that person. Eventually after the pillows were fluffed and the blankets turned down, she found his phone laying out on a table -- she pulled herself up onto a counter top and huffed out a little breath of air, thinking about everything and the way that the world had gone in the past few months, willing the water up from the back of her thoughts up to the front of her eyes, she could feel the raw scratch in her throat that would choke out a sob in a few seconds, unlocking the screen by pure luck, she found the right number and left a message full of full on sobbing and shaky breaths. There was a family emergency and it was terrible - she felt her breath get caught up in her chest, people were missing, hospitals, the whole nine yards and Harry just wasn't in a state or a place where he could call -- apologizing again, Roman hung up the phone and dried her eyes, giving the performance a little shrug as she slid off the counter top to put his phone back -- and left a note on the fridge before she left.

By Thursday morning the not sleeping for more than fifteen minutes a go was starting to wear her down, the coffee all tasted like rot and she just wasn't hungry. She was nervous and she was scared - because after all that, after all of those things, she could remember this faint passing conversation she'd had with someone ages ago, ages and ages ago. If people could go home - and oh god, what if they were all finally home? And what if that meant that she was never supposed to be there in the first place. After fifteen minutes of that and another round of panic, Roman quietly put that theory in the pile where you'd put the 'what if we're someone's dream' thought that everyone has at some point usually before they decide it's a good idea to go read anything. But that was a different problem that she was going to have to force herself through sooner, probably, rather than later.

A nap, not so much as her body shutting down for an hour, Roman woke up after calling work some..time..? And explained she wasn't even remotely able to handle any kind of workload that day, she got dressed and tried to be a normal, functioning human being. She took a shower, she made a snack, she called a real person who was real and wasn't anyone she had anything to really be worried about - for, rather, Roman called Drea's husband and asked if he was alright, how Riley was, asked if there was anything at all she could do to help in any possible way - because well, they didn't need to talk about it. Eventually it was settled on maybe taking Riley out for a little while so he could get a hold of some things for her at the salon, talked to her sister, all that stuff - which obviously, obviously she agreed to. In the next hour she was out and ready, picking up one of the most adorable little girls she'd ever met in her whole life. They hugged and she gave her dad a traditional half smile and nod before Riley gave him one last, big hug where he pretended to eat her ear --- buckling her into the car, she asked what she wanted to listen to, settling on whatever Riley wanted. They went to the movies, they took silly pictures - there might have been a trip to the toy store, if she was sure her dad wouldn't mind (of course he didn't, was the reply after they'd already parked).

Eventually, they got back home after getting dinner -- getting the keys to the Salon and the appointment books, she thanked him and told him if he needed anything she would be there in less than two minutes. But this was good for her, this was something that could take her mind off of every little thing that was trying to dig it's way through to set up permanent shop. Roman found the salon exactly the way it was supposed to be on Friday morning -- and got to quick work to sort out numbers, schedules, dates and how quick she could counter with getting someone in for that day's appointments, and of course, apologies. This was fine, this was good - this was better than sitting in her apartment being sad, watching her blinking Christmas lights from the bed. Because had to go on, right? Of course it did.