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Monday, July 4

First draft.

Stepping into the dressing room, she self-consciously glanced at herself in the mirror. Setting down the bathing suits, the dresses and the shirts, she faced herself, resolved. She looked at her hair, which was being surprisingly well-behaved despite not being cut for two years. She looked at her face, which was so familiar, she could not help but like it -- a welcome friend in a world that had become so suddenly foreign. She looked at her body, which was long and thin -- too thin, according to her mother. She couldn't help but agree. Having lost eight pounds in the last month (not eating could do that to you), she saw her disappearing flesh as a sign of weakness -- a reminder of what he had done, how he had made her feel. 

But still. It was not even her loose shirt, her sagging shorts that made her wince when she caught her reflection in the mirror. It was what lay beneath her shirt that scared her, saddened her, made her wish desperately for a magic pill that would make her pain go away. She touched the spot right above her chest tentatively, and then removed her shirt. Lifting it up and over her head slowly, she closed her eyes and breathed deeply, bracing herself. Opening her eyes, she couldn't help but see it. Feel it. A shadowy concave in her chest. She touched it, feeling its downward curve into her body. Then, she tapped it, lightly. She felt a ringing reverberate through her body, tingling her rib cage, causing a slight tremble in her toes. Hollow. She tapped again, just to make sure. The unmistakable echo of a hollow, a wretched hollow that had lodged itself into her body. Right in the place where her heart used to hurt from the swelling of love and care. Where he used to rest his head and listen, listen to the movement of her blood through her veins. 

This hollow. It had appeared, a small, preliminary version of itself, a week after he had left, driving away from her at three in the morning, tears in his eyes, his hands shaking. And since then, it had grown. She had tried not to notice it, tried to pretend it did not exist. But now it was unavoidable,  much bigger, a shadowy curve existing as if a baseball had permanently dented her chest. Last week, she had resigned herself to just wearing high necked t-shirts that fit loosely (which, luckily, most of her shirts did now). But the problem was getting out of hand.

She sat down, cross-legged on the carpet of the fitting room, and stared at herself. Her breath was rattly, and she could feel it move in the spaces between her bones, the hollow spaces that made up so much of her body now. She leaned her head so that it rested on the glass of the mirror, closing her eyes and letting her body relax. For the life of her, she did not know what to do. For the life of her, she still did not understand what had happened. What had caused him to not only stop caring, but to shut her out of his life entirely. She did not know why he was so mad. Why he was so mean. All she had done was love him. And maybe sometimes she did not do it very well, but she had tried. She had tried so hard. But here she was. Alone.

There was a knock on the door. "Satpreet. Are you almost done?"
She lifted her head and looked at the reflection of the feet that were on the other side of the door. A concerned friend, coming to make sure that she was okay.

"What?" She did not know why she said this. She had heard her perfectly fine.

"How are things going?"

She rested her head back on the glass. Poorly, she thought. Things are going poorly. No matter how much she tried to pretend, how much she laughed or smiled in a day, at night, she felt the hollow and knew, knew that things were not okay. She fingered it now and cried quietly. She did not know what she could do to feel better. To make this go away. 


She sighed and let out a quiet, "I'm fine."

"SP. He's not worth it." This was said softly, voice full of concern.

She knew that. She knew that. The way that he had treated her since this had all happened was evidence of this fact. He was not worth it. He was not worth it.

But she could not forget. She could not forget, as he seemed to have forgotten, the last four years. She could not replace him, as he had so quickly replaced her. It made her sick. It made her angry and sad and so, so sick.

Feeling trapped, feeling helpless and feeling scared, she pressed her forehead against the glass. Hard and fast she pushed, tears falling to the ground, her hands clenched in small fists. She pushed and cried. And suddenly, she felt herself fall. The mirror gave way, opening itself to her, and she felt her entire body tip forward and fall. Opening her eyes, she saw the darkness, the hollow abyss that reflected the empty space inside her chest, and she allowed herself to go. Fall into it and fade away.


Beth Berens said...


The closest feeling I've had like the dreadful emotions you feel right now, was four years ago. One of Kim's and my classmates, whom we had known since kindergarten was killed in a car accident. It was unfair on so many levels. He'd just graduated high school. We all just saw him walk across the stage a month ago. He fell asleep at the wheel, as the designated driver.
There had been some hope too. He didn't die immediately, but was in a coma. Everyone desperately grabbed at the thin strings of hope, willing existence to just listen to our feelings, and to please please not allow the inevitable to happen. It was a feeling I'd never felt before.

I remember wishing it was a year later, just so I didn't have to feel the overpowering grief that buried itself in my heart. I know you're very familiar with the grief that death brings. I tell you this (again?), because it is grief that is overcome.

I felt bad that I wanted the sadness I felt to go away, as if time would make his death less sad. It wouldn't make it less sad. But my heartbreak went away. The heavy weight lifted. You WILL feel better. Your heart will not be broken forever.

I love you Satpreet. You’re one of the strongest, most powerful women I know, and you’re capable of anything when your mind is set. You’ve got so much to live for. Your talents, your art, your ambitions, your family, your friends, your future happiness, and I hope some present happiness.

Anonymous said...


Beth Berens said...

I was worried, after posting this comment, that it was the opposite of what you want and need to hear... I mean, it's a very sad story... But I needed to tell it to say what I wanted to say...