1. the fact or state of existing; being
2. the continuance or maintenance of life; living, esp in adverse circumstances: a struggle for existence ; she has a wretched existence
3. something that exists; a being or entity
4. everything that exists, esp that is living
late 14c., from O.Fr. existence , from L.L. existentem “existent,” prp. of L. existere “stand forth, appear,” and, as a secondary meaning, “exist;” from ex- “forth” + sistere “cause to stand” (see assist).
“Would you like something to drink? Tea, coffee? Are you able to eat or drink here?”
Callie’s visitor rolled her eyes. “We aren’t in Hades, Callie. Apple juice will be fine.”
Callie poured the juice which she found in the fridge into a clear glass with a dark blue rim. She took that to her guest, being careful to set it down within reach but without moving too close. Callie filled a water glass for herself and sat back down across from the visitor.
The other’s clipped tone cued Callie to what she must be referring. Callie drew out the paper that had led her to Z’Aria from her pocket and placed it on the table between them, smoothing out the folds as she did so. The only sound was the crinkle of paper against wood as they both looked down at the blank page.
“Do you even realize what you did?”
Callie raised an eyebrow. “What I did? What about out there?” She gestured toward outside. “It’s quite sparsely populated these days.”
“That’s not the same.”
“Empty isn’t dead!”
“Isn’t it? Does that change when the emptiness persists? And who is responsible for filling it?”
“It isn’t that simple.”
“That’s no easier.” The other shook her head. “This is bigger than you understand.”
“Many things are. I wonder whether it’s larger than you understand, as well. Otherwise, why are you here?”
“Because of that, for one!” The other pointed to the paper on the table. “That’s worse than killing someone.”
Callie focused intently on her guest, sensing the first true ingress into the heart of this mess. “Do tell.”
“Why should I? You already guessed or you wouldn’t have done it.”
Callie leaned forward. “I want my life back. I’ll do whatever necessary to protect my existence. Including cleaning up your messes.”
“Oh don’t even try to blame me for Z’Aria.”
“I don’t have to.” Callie smiled. “The evidence is right there, gone from the page.”