For two months, I wouldn't sit. I jittered like a wind-up toy, filling my nights with faces and lights, ablaze like a fire in the driest wood. I thought I was just having fun.
One night, I tried to stay in. Calendar cleared, doors locked tight, the still and the silence engulfed me. I put on my coat and went out. "I'm not afraid to be alone," I thought, "I just don't prefer it."
I got sick, then, an autumn cold. I spent four days alone, sick in a bed too big for only me. I was alone with my ghosts and they wrecked me. They'd waited so quietly.
Fall has turned to winter in this town between two lakes. The color has washed from the sky. The last feathers of fall clung to the branches in fistfuls; they shuddered in the wind, and fell. It's colder now.
My favorite time is twilight: lamp-lit windows with the shades still drawn. Woodsmoke and wind chimes. My boots make echoes on the silent street, hands in my pockets, humming. I watch families through the windows: setting silver, fork on the left. We all want the same thing, I think.
When he left, I was so angry. Of all the reasons I had to be mad, the one that stuck was so silly: I saw your baby pictures. Boring ones, funny ones, ones that made me want to have a family of our own. It's like naming a chicken before you slit its throat; it boards in a room in your heart.
It'll be a year next month. That's a long time for so tight a grip. It feels more like a feat than a failure. Rebound and ricochet, my heart's like a yo-yo, always coming back. I'd rather be wrong, to be honest.
I've been going, and growing, lit like a lamp on the longest path. I made a wrong turn, somewhere. I opened my heart so wide that I closed it back again. Seeking turned to taking and courage turned to pride; there was something good there, but I passed it. I don't listen anymore, is the thing. I always think I know what you're about to say.
But sometimes on these cloudless days, the air crisp as a new dollar bill, sky flat and gray as a windless sea, hands in my pockets, humming, I catch myself laughing out loud. There's joy in there, somewhere. It's a secret I keep from myself.