Step 1: Get dumped.
It was November 1, All Saints' Day, my calendar told me. I woke up at 8 a.m., took my dogs for a walk around the ranch, came home, did a little writing, and decided to go into town to pick up a few groceries and get the mail. I kissed Randy, my fiancé, goodbye and asked him if I could get anything for him in town. He said no, but I intended to pick up some Gosar's organic Thai sausages for dinner, his favorite.
There had been some tension between us that summer around his kids' visit and my teaching and travel schedule, but we had just had two great weekends in a row, and I was pretty sure we were getting back on track, talking about our wedding that was only eight months away. I took my letters to the post office, picked up the sausages, drank a latte, then headed home. I was gone from the house approximately one hour and 15 minutes.
When I walked in, I wasn't aware that anything had happened. I figured Randy was downstairs working. I'm still not sure what tipped me off, but at some point my heart started beating fast, and time started to take on that freeze-frame quality it does when the mind is just figuring out that the bad thing has happened and the body is getting ready to grieve.
I opened the door to the basement and saw that Randy's desk had been cleared. My heart got louder in my ears, and those small voices, the ones that belong to my younger selves, started up the way they always have. Like when the truck driver came to the door carrying the...