After stumbling drunk into your bedroom, crawling onto your twin-sized mattress and wrapping yourself in dirty bedsheets, you realize that you are staring into oblivion. You can see the stars, the moon, and an airplane, each obscured only somewhat due to the haze of neon lights surrounding your apartment. The air is cold and you are so overwhelmed by your one-hour-fresh, loud, public and dramatic breakup on the dancefloor of a crowded dive bar that it takes you longer than it might otherwise to process what should be obvious:
Your ceiling is gone.
Still sad about your ex, you rack your brain for how this could have happened. Had you planned for its removal? Don’t be ridiculous. Could someone have removed it by mistake? Potentially—although not at this hour—but the confiscation of a ceiling would be so laborious a process that it could only be the end result of a deeply purposeful series of actions. Might this, then, be some twisted act of vengeance by your former significant other? To literally take the roof off from over you? To expose you to the elements? To leave you for cold?
After a moment of fevered, impotent rage, you realize that your newest ex probably hasn’t even deleted you on Facebook yet, much less orchestrated the removal of your bedroom ceiling.
Barring a serviceable explanation, the next step, then, is to determine when this could have happened. You ask yourself: was your ceiling still here this afternoon, when you awoke at 1:35pm, already over a half an hour late to a lunch date with your ex’s family? Was it still here at 3:17pm, when you remembered that you had missed lunch? What about 3:41pm, when you called to apologize, and—although you sensed a tone of resigned exasperation—managed to convince the lips you knew so well to form an “I’ll be there,” on the subject of joining you and your buddies for a wild night of bar hopping? And what about when you left at 10:15pm, late again for no real reason other than that you were really into an episode of Ghost Hunters?
Of course it was. It was still here this evening, this afternoon, this morning, yesterday, the day before yesterday, the day before that, etc. etc. etc.
It’s funny, though, that for such an ever-present figure in your life, you can remember very few specifics about your missing ceiling. In the three years you have lived in that bedroom, you have spent almost no time at all even considering it, and come to think, you’re not sure that you ever really knew it all that intimately. If you were to call the cops to report a missing ceiling, what might you even say about it? Could you speak to its exact dimensions? To its shade of gray? To the consistency of its paint job? To its history? To its character? To its gender identity? To its belief in the unknown? To its hopes? Dreams? Regrets? Fears? Guilty pleasures? Innermost secrets? Childhood traumas? Intrusive thoughts? Celebrity crushes?
Of course not; you never asked.
In the distance there is a strike of lightning and a crack of thunder. A moment later, thick, powerful bursts of rain pour from the sky, the kind of flood that could drench a man and drown him. The wet seeps through your blanket and through your skin and to your bone. You shiver violently, try to curl up inside yourself.
This never used to happen while the ceiling was here.
Pathetic, drunk, missing your ceiling and longing for warmth, you cannot help but to whimper, “Come back,” your voice so weak that you can barely hear it. In absentminded desperation, you mutter a prayer to your departed ceiling:
“I’m sorry I never appreciated you,” you say. “Please come back. I’ll start taking note of you. I’ll say hello when I wake up. Goodnight, when I go to bed. I’ll stick glow-in-the-dark stars against your surface. When the lights go off you’ll look like the solar system.”
Another crash of thunder shakes your bedframe, and, impossibly, the rain comes down even harder. Your carpet is ruined. Your things are ruined. The night is long.
When you crawl out of your soaking bed the next morning, your ceiling is still absent. You take a hot shower and dress in your driest clothing so that you may go out into town and purchase new bedsheets. At the bus stop you run into an old acquaintance from undergrad. You exchange pleasantries but she looks distracted.
“My ceiling left last night,” she says, finally. “One minute it was there and then the next—poof—it was gone.”
“I thought I was the only one,” you say.
An old man sitting on the bench looks up from his paper. “Haven’t you heard?” he asks. “It’s happening everywhere.” His voice trails off as he scans his newspaper, coughs. “They’re calling it curious,” he says, “the scientists. They’re saying we didn’t love them enough.”
You resolve to start appreciating your floorboards. The first day of your new year begins immediately, and once you get home you tell the floorboards what a great job they’re doing, how glad you are they’re here, how important they are to your sense of security. “Thanks for being here,” you say. “Thanks for holding me up.” The gesture of acknowledgement becomes a twice-daily ritual. You recite this every morning. Every night. Even when you’re exhausted; even when you’re down, drunk and depressed; even when the weather outside is so chaotic that the elements threaten to destroy you.
It’s the little things.