I am walking back from the water when it happens. I am looking down at my hands in the late-summer sun. It is the time of day when afternoon slides into dusk. I am looking at them, thinking, these are my hands, that is so strange.
My hands are my hands. Like in kindergarten when you have to practice writing your name over and over again until it looks so weird. You start to wonder, Is this really my name? This can’t be my name.
Like a straggle of string unraveled from a sweater, a trail made by a snake in the mud.
I am thinking that and then
I feel the world
empty around me.
Cicadas stop screaming.
Cars stop humming along the road past the edge of the wood.
My phone, which had been buzzing buzzing buzzing in my pocket, goes silent. When I pull it out, it’s cold and dead. When I turn it on, there is no signal.
In the distance, the water splashes over the spillway, but no one calls or cries out.
I know before I know
that everyone is gone.
Copyright © 2023 by Ally Condie. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.