It was out of dreams of autumn that Sylvia woke to find herself alone and abandoned in the world. A bright room it was that she lay in, wondering at the crispness of the sheets that swaddled her; wondering, too, at how feeble she felt and how clear-headed.
“I feel new-born,” she said into the quiet, and her voice echoed off the walls and the ceiling in a way that told her there was no one else alive in the house. She forced herself to sit up. It was a conscious act, and difficult. Each muscle had to be pulled separately and distinctly, and when she was done, and more or less upright, she quivered and shook, limbs twitching with fatigue.
“My god,” she whispered, afraid of more echoes.
The better part of an hour had passed before she managed to cross the small, sunny expanse of the room to the armoire; by the time she was dressed, the sun had flooded the room with the honeyed light of evening. She was stronger then, or braver, and shouted as loudly as she could, until black spots danced in her eyes and the room began to whirl.
Far off, a bell began to toll, deep-voiced and sibylline.