Krisis, Book 1
Issue #1: Girl Disappearing
Chapter One: April Tenth (pt. 1)
Everything felt different on April tenth.
Though he never looked any different than he had on the ninth, on April tenth Nathan Padell felt more a man than on any other day – felt the weight of the world settling down upon him. It was a day to reflect, to shed a tear, and to have some small inkling of hope.
He did not even consider himself a man, necessarily. He had boyish looks that refused to mature into something more credibly grown up and a boyish enthusiasm for everything – even utterly unexciting drudgery at the office. At least, that’s what he was told. He was slimmer than average, but not taller, and given the opportunity he would live his entire life in blue jeans and t-shirts. Even at twenty-seven years old with a corporate job and his own apartment he felt like he was still not quite an adult.
Except for on April tenth.
It was a day he visited Ella, without fail.
Nathan stood on a cracked slab of West Philadelphia sidewalk, prepared to mount the steps to the porch of Ella’s apartment building. Actually, it was a just a house – one of the booming, three-story, faux Victorians common in West Philly. This block of them had long since been carved into duplexes and triplexes to accommodate the swell of students from several nearby colleges, which earned the area the nickname “University City.”
The sagging porch roof smiled a lopsided grin at Nathan, the heavy molding on the trim like a set of scuffed wooden teeth. Ella’s side street was typically shrouded in quiet, broken by occasional blasts of noise – car stereos passing on the adjacent streets, distant dog barks, and the hollow sound of a basketball bouncing somewhere out of sight.
Nathan smiled back at the roof and took the stairs two at a time. He crossed the groaning floorboards of the porch and rang Ella’s buzzer with one hand as he jiggled the handle of the front door with the other. It popped open, as it always did. He let himself in to the dim vestibule, separated from the foyer beyond by a heavier metal door with double-paned security glass window. It screamed in dissonance against its warm wooden surroundings.
He felt annoyed with her, despite himself. I turned down a gig for this, he thought. A good one. As if he would miss this night, any more than she would.
Ella probably would have come to the gig, if he had asked. That was their arrangement with each other, unspoken these five years. They watched each other. Nathan watched over Ella, trying to navigate around the empty spaces in her life. Ella was Nathan’s audience, listening to his worries and validating him in times of doubt.
Neither of them truly made up for the thing they both lacked, but at least they found something to share in its absence.