White curtains flutter in the afternoon breeze that breathes through a small window, rustling the branches of the potted trees and cooling the gleaming wet paints that swirl brightly across a large canvas. A clay teapot sits among the paints and brushes on the wooden table, and beside it, a pottery plate holds a few grapes and a scattering of crumbs.

The open room extends into a comfortable living area where the tiled floor turns to carpet and eventually reaches a bed nestled between a broad-leafed plant and a piano. Brightly lit music inhabits the room with acoustic chords of guitar and thoughtful piano melodies; all else is silent and peaceful. The wind plays with a line of beads hanging from the ceiling fan and a few sketches flutter beneath their thumb tacks.

After a moment, a chirping sound awakens the room, and a cell phone begins to blink from where it rests on the kitchen counter. The phone repeats the bird call twice before someone peeks in on the room. A young woman’s head pokes through the window from the sunny outside world, her cheeks flushed and her eyes bright. She gives the chirping phone a curious look, tucks a careless strand of hair behind her ear, and then hops gracefully through the window. Her bare feet land with a simple sound, and she approaches the phone with care. Stooping to turn off the music, she lifts the phone from its place and jumps onto the bed cross-legged.

“Hello?” she asks. She doesn’t recognize the voice, but her intelligent eyes soon sharpen with interest. “Yes, we were once very close. Is he in trouble?” She listens to the story, her emotions moving openly across her face, settling on a gentle tone of compassion.

“This is a terrible tragedy. How is he doing?” She is open and receptive, yet the next explanation causes some surprise. “Gone?” Her voice is serious, but a small smile follows with a glint of excitement. “Oh dear. This is unexpected…” A light has entered her eyes, and she says a few quick words. “I would not worry about him. He will surface shortly. In fact, I will make sure he is alright and let you know as soon as I hear from him.” Her voice is reassuring, but there is a subtle secret to her smile.

And she continues with even conviction. “I would not involve the police. This is the type of missing person who has to find himself.”

The call is finished within a few minutes, and she tosses the phone onto the bed beside her. Then she sits, meditating for a moment, her eyes losing themselves in the sway of the curtains.

“There’s a whole world out there my old friend." She takes an even breath and rolls back her shoulders. "And though I am sorry for your loss, I am more excited for what you may gain."

Her eyes are thoughtful as her imagination gazes far beyond her little apartment. "I wonder where you will run to once you have stopped runningfrom. I do hope you find a purpose to replace your fears.” She talks as if to a picture in her mind, a memory of a loved one she has not seen in years.

After a while, she smiles away her concerns and straightens her back with closed eyes, relaxed and centered on the bed. The breeze continues to fill the room with sounds of the city. After a while, the smile turns into a laugh as an idea occurs to her. She nods happily. “I should pay Ivan a visit.”

The End

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