• Natalia Albin


All the way there she tells herself it’s going to be okay. The knot in her throat is around the

size of an apple, she guesses. It’s going to be okay, she thinks. I’m not dying. Somehow,

though, understanding it and feeling it is not quite the same thing. Sometimes she thinks her

brain is fully disconnected from her body, constantly fighting it, feeling so alone because her

thoughts aren’t quite right.

She doesn’t speak in the car. He holds her hand and looks at her whenever there’s a traffic

light. She looks ahead, pretending her mind isn’t screaming. I love you, he says, so softly she

can barely hear him. She can’t, won’t, doesn’t reply because it’s all too much and her throat

is dry.

They sit at the cafe and it must look so normal to everyone around them. What a lovely

couple, they must be thinking. Humans take comfort in believing things they want for

themselves, she thinks.

I love you, he says, this time a little louder. You know that, right? he asks, seriously.

She looks up at him. Her throat is so dry she feels like she could actually spit dirt. She takes

a drink from her small coffee cup and it screams inside her, it burns and her tongue is sand.

She nods at him, it’s all she can do. Does she know? She knows he feels something; she feels

it too. But will he feel it in a month, or two, or three? Love is fragile and futile.

I’ll visit, he says, reaching for her hand. His touch is hot. Or hers cold, she’s not sure. How

is he acting like this? she thinks. Like it’s nothing, so composed. She’s so weak. She stands

up to and lets out a whisper, I should go. He nods.

His hand feels heavy on her back as they walk. She looks down at her old shoes, she got them

years ago. She’s wearing them as a piece of comfort and home, yet somehow she feels

neither, or maybe both; it’s all the same when you feel nothing. She is certain her stomach

has turned into a rock because it’s weighing her down so much she can barely walk.

He kisses her. She’s on her tiptoes. It’s all oh-so-perfect yet completely destructive. She does

her best to smile but he’s already felt the saltiness of her tears on his lips. He hugs her hard.

She doesn’t look up at him again because it just might actually kill her. She turns around and

feels her body turn to dust, her legs give out and she doesn’t understand how she’s still

walking because suddenly it all feels blurry and dark.

Goodbye, she says, softly, into the air.

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