the day after

Things to do today:

1) Breathe in.

2) Breathe out.

—        Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of a Funny Story

 

Breathe in. Sara opens her eyes. She’s in bed, the covers pulled up to beneath her eyes. Her face feels tight, swollen. The room is bright, too bright. She rolls her eyes and turns away from the window, slipping back under the darkness of her eyelids.

 

Images flashing too quickly to follow. A bouquet of dark crimson roses in her arms. A procession. Her mother. A stranger with a sad smile. Strangers, all with sad smiles. Black shoes and black pants-black shirts-black ties-black eyes-a frame-a portrait and-

 

There’s a hand on her shoulder. It’s resting on the blanket. Its weight is comforting. That is, until it starts moving. The hand is… moving? It’s gripping her, swaying her slightly. A voice, muffled, comes through the comforter. It sounds tired and vaguely frustrated.

 

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Lighthouse

Times like this, Sara really hates Nate. She hates how he’s always smiling. How he never seems to see the problems ahead. How he’s always telling her to “keep your head up, sweet, everything’s going to be okay”. But most of all, she hates how he makes her hopeful. Because hope is not a friend. Hope is the flaky date you went out with on a Tuesday night, had one too many drinks with, and shared sloppy kisses underneath a streetlamp. Hope never calls back, only texts at 3:20AM with multiple typos and horrible beer breath and a sexy smirk under a mop of messy curls. Hope is-

 

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campfire

A road trip sounds like a good thing. It sounds appropriate after graduation and before university, before the start of the rest of their lives. She tells Nate as much – they’re sitting on his bed, what’s new? – and a crease appears between his eyebrows. It’s that look he gets when he doesn’t think something is a good idea.

 

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sandbox / trouvaille

It’s a foggy morning when Esther decides. “Sara, do you want to go to the park?”

 

“Yes, yes, yes!” The toddler grins at her from the high chair. She has a smattering of freckles across her button nose from her father, rosy cheeks and bouncy chestnut pigtails from her mother. There is a smear of baby food on her chin, and Esther swipes it clean with her finger, smiling when her baby giggles.

 

My baby. Esther feels the swoop of heart wrenching joy pound through her veins.

 

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