"Needing all the available light to see,
Needing all the available air to breathe,
Needing all the available me to be,
Just let me leave."
Dink looked down at his feet and let the piece of paper with his poem on it flutter to the floor. The theatre restaurant was full this evening, with two hundred of Dink's peers. They had cheered the thirty minute recitation of an Edda-inspired epic by the first poet on the stage, and had wildly applauded the second poet, who had presented a meditation on lost socks. The third poet, the one onstage before Dink, had shouted abuse in iambic pentameter until his voice gave out, and had been awarded an ovation. It would have been a standing ovation if half the listeners weren't too drunk to stand.
Dink's poem, taking a little less than a minute to recite, was greeted with silence. It lasted two full minutes before someone coughed, and someone else belched. Dink shuffled off the stage and picked his way across the sticky floor to the table he'd been sat at before his recitation. When he got there, he found that there was no longer a chair for him. No-one at the table would even look at him. The silence continued until he'd walked out of the theatre and onto the street.
The noise of the street: the roar of the passing traffic, a distant siren blaring on and off, and the cat-calls of the prostitutes seemed very loud now. Dink shivered, only partly from the chill of the night air, and set off home. As he walked past the prostitutes they too fell silent, as if in mockery of what had just happened.
Dink slept soundly, but not well, and when he awoke he still wasn't feeling cheerful. He sat up in bed, and prodded at the tv remote control, wondering if the news could provide him with anything to make his life seem better. The television came on, and Dink stared.
The news was reporting that everyone who'd been in the theatre restaurant the previous evening had been found in there this morning, all suffocated. There were no signs of a struggle, said the news reporter ignoring the workers carrying bodies out of the building behind her, and so far no traces of foul play. The only odd thing that had been found was the complete lack of functioning lighting in the whole building.
Dink was now officially the best poet in the city, and quite possibly the only published one too.
He turned the television off, his head spinning from the news, and pulled back the sheets to get up. A rustle of paper caught his attention, and he watched a page from his notebook flutter to the floor. Puzzled, he leaned out of bed and picked it up.
"Why regret the loss of unloved friends?
Why be sad that the learning never ends?"
Dink shivered. When he found the dead prostitute in the bathroom, he screamed.