Her body is hollow. Something came in the night and ransacked the place, so she walks through its corridors picking up memories of that beautiful boy she met outside the movie house last spring; the long days she spent embroidering hope through her insides as though there was so much thread she’d never run out;
Memories of the bed that slept. The table that ate. The cluttered goddamned floor.
She speaks to herself in “shouldn’ts” and “musts”. She tries to dig a happier word from beneath the floorboards and comes up with yet another “why the fuck did you do that you stupid, stupid girl? You should know better. You shouldn’t have cancelled that visit. You mustn’t open the drapes. Don’t let them see what you are. Don’t touch.”
There is nothing out here for her now so she makes friends with silence; turns off the internet; takes the phone off the hook; learns loneliness; tries not to cry with every paper cut and burned slice of toast. Tries, perhaps, to eat something.
Sometimes she catches the eye of the boy who lives next door, and for a second, it seems as though he sees her. Then she retreats into the silence again because she should because she must because she knows she’s expected to be whole and cannot be whole.
She hears the world as if under water. She has shrunk to the size of a plum and retreated to the centre of her body. Every voice she hears is a dull murmur, unintelligible.
Her friends tell her she should stop spending so much time crawling around in her head. She shouldn’t keep isolating herself this way. She must get out more.
Should. Should not. Must.
She’s been alone for 15 days, and even the clutter of plates in the kitchen sounds like hatred. She’s forgotten what her voice sounds like; has stopped bothering to look in the mirror. Each day she gathers the strength to attempt a bath but her bones bruise against the porcelain. She should do better. She must get herself together.
Instead, she climbs back under the blankets and watches the sunlight bloom through the weave. It looks like everything she is not.