Sitting in the dark, alone, while everyone sleeps around me. A quiet house on a cold night. Out of nowhere, tears well in my eyes. I’m caught off guard, of course, because I’ve seldom known tears separate from panic. But it’s not as uncomfortable as I remembered it to be. I sit still, willing my body to let go. It does. Immediately, my physical self is overcome with the weight of my emotions. Who knows how much time passes.

Weeping silently, I eventually lose my breath.

Between the silent gasps and with shaky hands, I lower myself to the floor. A flash of self-hatred followed with the most gut-wrenching yearning imaginable. And I desperately wonder why, especially right then in that moment, my mind still moves to you. I don’t have a bad life – why can’t I be content with the people beside me? Why does my entire being ache so badly for you?

Could haves haunt me. Opportunity teases me. My mind shows me the possibilities, painting with the most vivid imagination. There’s grief. There’s shame. How could I ever dream of such wreckage? But I do. Scarlet letters spell my name, and I like the way it looks.

And then my name turns into yours and we’re dancing in a battlefield to a song I don’t recognize. An embrace that I’ve likened to lightning, but it turns out it’s not. It’s home. I see myself fitted precisely into your chest and I melt there. It’s magnetic. You whisper, “Finally.”

Eventually, my shoulders don’t shake. The tears dry on my cheeks and I manage to catch my breath. Quiet house, cold night. I look around at the people I love, sleeping soundly, and the guilt pummels me. I have a good life. To gamble it away would be unthinkable.

But I look around at the people I love and you’re missing. To go on without you? Unthinkable.

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