“What do you want me to say?” She tried to sound cold, detached.

“I’d like an explanation.”

“For what?”

It clearly took some effort on his part to stifle an angry outburst. “You know damn well for what.”

And she did; she just didn’t have an answer. Why did anyone fall in love? If she didn’t know the answer to that question, how could she know the answer to this one?

“Why are we breaking up? Why do you want to end it?” Impatience and even desperation were showing through his anger.

“I don’t know. It’s just over. We both know it.”

“Well I don’t know it.”

What could he want to hear? Why do two people fall out of love? What answer would satisfy him?

“We’re just not in love anymore.”

“You mean you aren’t.”

“Okay. I’m not.”

“But why? Why aren’t you in love with me? What can I do differently?”

“I don’t know.” It was becoming her refrain. “Nothing. There’s nothing you did or didn’t do. The spark just isn’t there anymore.”

“So it’s just random?”

Was that right? Is love just random? There is no why? Some people you fall in love with, and some you don’t. Sometimes you fall out of love. Is that all there is to it?

“I guess. I don’t think we can choose who we love. At least I can’t.”

“Great. So this is it. Bam! You’re no longer in love with me. No reason. No explanation. Just a lightning bolt from the blue!”

“Yeah.” It sounded harsh. But she had nothing better to say.

“And here I am, struck with no warning.”

“I’m s…”

“Don’t.” He cut her off. “Don’t you dare apologize. I don’t want to hear it.” He stood up and stormed out of her apartment.

A part of her wanted to go after him, but she stopped herself. He had his anger. And it was more than she had been able to offer.

The MacGuffin

“Okay, I am at the coordinates.” There was nothing in the immediate vicinity except for the cliff, some rocks, and the meager vegetation that eked out an existence. Sand whipping around reflected the harsh sunlight in every direction.

His radio crackled. “Good. You should see two large boulders next to each other at the base of the cliff.”

“I see them.” They were less than a dozen feet from where he stood.

“Right where they touch, underneath that spot is a metal box. That’s what you’re looking for.”

“I don’t see anything.” There wasn’t much to see beyond his vizor, and the sand made it hard to see even that, but the empty space was still obvious.

“It has to be there. Maybe the sand buried it.”

He kicked at the sand a bit, but there was only an inch or two on top of solid ground.

“It’s not here. In fact, the boulders aren’t touching. It looks like someone moved it.”

“Impossible. No one knows it’s there. Did you try digging for it.”

Despite the poor visibility, he saw something moving maybe fifty meters away. He pulled out his rifle and looked through the sight. A small wiry figure was moving at a good pace through the dunes. It was holding something.

“This box. Is it really important?”

“Yes. That’s why I sent you out there.”

He sighed and replaced the rifle in its sling. A shot that missed would warn his prey. Better to get closer. “I’ll be in touch.” Before a protest could start, he silenced his radio and began the pursuit.


The rain had been falling all day. The grey sky gave no hope for an end anytime soon. He didn’t mind, for he didn’t want it to end. The steady patter on the roof was soothing. Other than that sound, the world was silent. All cares and concerns washed down the storm drain leaving only stillness behind.

Through the quiet, a single note reached him. It was not the rain, but something else, yet it complemented the rain, played off of the theme the drops created. Another note arrived, and another. Before long, it was a proper melody with the rain providing percussion.

He opened the door and looked around, but there was no obvious source for the music. It called to him, sang to him. Ignoring the fact that he was getting wet, he wandered out into the yard. The sound came from everywhere and nowhere. He yearned to follow it, but he didn’t know where to go.

So he stood, letting the rain soak through his clothes and listening. Nothing else mattered; nothing else even existed. At some point, even the rain disappeared, and only the music remained. It lifted him up and carried him away.


“I’m sorry, sir. That account appears to be empty.”

“How can it be empty? I just deposited money in there two days ago.” He tried to keep from yelling, but this was unacceptable.

The teller looked bored, as though she’d heard this before. Someone trying to take out money they didn’t have. “I’m sorry, again, sir.”

He couldn’t understand how this could have happened. “Is it completely empty? No balance whatsoever?”

The woman looked back at her screen with a sigh. A look of confusion briefly crossed her face, and then she turned back to him. “Actually, the account must have been closed. I show no record of that account in our system.”


A security guard looked over at him and took a step.

“Sir, please keep your tone civil.”

“But how can my account be closed? Let me speak to your manager.”

By this time, one of the bankers had come out of her office and walked over. “Is there a problem?”

“Yes there’s a problem. Apparently you guys lost my money.”

The banker looked to the teller who merely shrugged. “Okay, sir. Why don’t we go into my office and try to sort this out.”

“Fine.” He followed her back to the office and sat down.

“Now tell me what happened.”

“I tried to withdraw money from my account. The teller took my account number off of my checkbook and looked it up. First she said the account was empty, but then said the account was closed. But I didn’t close it, and I’m the only person on the account.”

“That is odd. Let’s see if I can find out more. What’s your account number?”

He rattled the number off from memory and watched her type it in. The look on her face was reminiscent of the look on the teller. It did not inspire confidence. She stared at the screen and hit the Enter key a few times.

“I think I must have entered it wrong. Let me take it off your checkbook.”

Remembering the security guard, he kept his irritation under control and handed it to her.

She opened it, and then shot him a look full of suspicion as her hand darted under the desk. “I don’t know who you are or what you’re doing, but this isn’t funny.” Gone was the genial tone in her voice.

“Sam, hold this man until the police arrive. We’ll let them sort it out.” The security guard had appeared in her doorway and forcibly led him away.

The teller came over to her office. “What happened, Amy?”

Amy looked at her and opened the checkbook. “Why didn’t you tell me? Or better, tell Sam? Nuts like that could be dangerous, Jill.”

“Nuts?” Jill looked at the checkbook. It was just a stack of blank paper. But hadn’t there been checks? Hadn’t she gotten the number of off them? Maybe she had just been humoring the guy. That must be it. “I’m sorry, Amy. You’re right. I should have said something. He just seemed harmless.”

Amy nodded. She, too, had thought he seemed harmless. It had looked like her screen had displayed account information before going blank. But it must have been a glitch.

Jill was in her doorway. “Can I help you with something, Jill?”

The confusion on Jill’s face reflected Amy’s. “Uh… No. It’s nothing. Sorry to bother you.” Jill looked down at her hands. “Oh. Here’s your notepad back. Why do you keep it in a checkbook case?”

Amy took the pad from her. “Uh… It’s just convenient, I guess.”

Jill smiled. “Gotcha. Well, back to work.”

Amy nodded absently, still staring at the notepad. “Yeah. Back to work.”