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Photo by Mark Bluemle

I stand before the candle and watch as it burns. The flame dances as it devours the wick, the wax beneath softening. I find myself envious of the wick, it is given the warmth I’ve long forgotten. I blow out the candle.

Looking around my apartment, a shiver runs through my spine. Cold, hollow, empty. Dusty sheets cover the little furniture that is left. A single mirror hangs opposite me. It’s been a year since I was last here and yet I look the same. The shirt I’m wearing hangs low on my chest, causing the beginning of my scar to peek out. Lifting my shirt, I trail my finger from the top of my chest, where the scar starts, to the bottom of my stomach, where it ends. If you were to dissect me and cut me open by following my scar, I wonder if a shiver would run through your spine. Cold, hollow, empty.

I am not evil nor am I good. I simply am.

I wasn’t always like this. People used to say I brought light into every room with my smile, that my laughter was like a warm blanket on a cold night. I can’t recall the last time I’ve done either of those things. I mourn myself alongside those who knew me.

Covering the mirror with a sheet, I take in the sight of my apartment for the last time. I can’t help but recall a time when it was once filled with life. Sun would pour in from the window on the east wall of the apartment, filling the place with warmth. In the kitchen, I’d spend my mornings drinking coffee while I read. Hosting dinner parties with my friends, filling the apartment with music and laughter. The walls would breathe with the amount of life that was lived in this apartment. Now, the walls are barren and cracked. If I stay any longer, I don’t know if I will ever find it in myself to leave. Opening the door I take a step and then another, I let the door close behind me and I continue – never looking back.

As I enter the world, stepping onto the sidewalk, a gust of wind picks up the leaves littered on the ground. I expect to feel a chill from the breeze but instead, I feel nothing. I stand in the center of the busy sidewalk, captured by the sight of the leaves playing with the wind. Life swirls around me as I’m glued to my place. People, busy people, with lives of their own walk through me as though I don’t exist. I’m transparent, invisible; I see others but they don’t see me.

Leaves carried by the wind guide me like it’s my destiny, but I know this path like the back of my hand. I could have walked here blind.

Standing across from his apartment I find myself paralyzed, torn apart with the hatred and anger I carry for the person I once loved. It was young love, young dumb love. My body craved him; to be with him, to know him, to feel him. He tied me up with his heart and stole my breath with his soul. I was blinded. I couldn’t see how he loved me in shades of black and blue until it was too late. His flaming eyes burned into mine as he hovered above me. “You are mine and you will die mine” he spat before he plunged the knife into my chest. I screamed as he carved me open. I could feel it as his cold hand reached into my chest. His fingers wrapped around my heart, gripping it tightly as he tore it out of my chest. My still bleeding heart lay in the palm of his hand. I could feel his pity seeping from his pores. Pity, pity, pity. It wasn’t until after I was gone he had realized what he had done. I could hear his wails as he tried to put my heart back in my cold, hollow, empty chest. “I’m sorry” he cried. “I’m so so sorry.” He sat there for hours holding my cold bloody corpse as he waited for my heart to beat for him. He stroked my hair while rocking me back and forth, like a mother caring for her child, but I was already gone. My heart would no longer beat, for him or anyone else; he took that away from me and he kept my heart as the prize.

I’m sure my heart would have ached when my eyes captured the sight of him. It’s been five years, as of today, and he is still as beautiful as he was the day he destroyed me. I can see him as he moves back and forth around his apartment. Anger rises in me as I watch him. How dare his heart continue beating while he keeps mine withering away somewhere in that apartment.

Without another thought, I walk up to his door and suddenly I’m being pulled by a force. Through his door, through his apartment, through the memories of us, and I’m led to our closet. His closet. Sure to be quiet, I peel back the door revealing his clothes. For a second I’m taken back by the pungent smell that radiates through his clothing but kept in a box in the back of his closet sits my rotting heart.

I wonder what he thinks when he looks at this box. He probably thinks of me as a fool. A fool to trust him and an even bigger fool to let him love me. Now that I finally have back what is mine, I can look for peace.

A smile tugs at my face as I reclaim my heart; but the smile is short-lived as I hear the pounding of his steps. Bang. Bang. Bang. As the steps get closer and closer, my breath catches in my chest. My hands shake as I grip onto the box. I watch as he walks past the entrance to the bedroom. He’s different up close. Still beautiful but his features are hardened with guilt. Grief. Intrigued, I follow him to the door. I watch as he shrugs on his coat and laces up his boots. Opening the door, he walks out, not bothering to look back and I can’t help but follow.

Fallen leaves cover his path as I trail behind him. Where is he going? He pauses, looking into a shop before walking in. I watch him through the shop’s window and I try to memorize him. His features, his gestures, the sound of his voice. I never want to forget. If I forgot, wouldn’t that mean all my suffering was for nothing?

The shop door chimes as he walks out. Continuing down the street, I follow as he enters the gate. Walking past the history of people who once walked this Earth as he does now, I carefully follow. Left, right, another right. Stepping over the bodies twelve feet beneath this sacred ground, he stops. My body turns over as he rests flowers beneath my name. Daffodils: my favorite.

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