Seven Point Two Seconds

I was rummaging through the warmer, looking for a sweet potato casserole when Brenda Faye called my name. She was standing by the stove, watching me quietly. She knew I had been down for far too many days in a row.

“Stephanie.”

I paused in my search and looked over at her

“I love you,” she said. I quickly looked away and grabbed the casserole.

“I love you, too,” I said as I closed the warmer door.

And then promptly turned around and left because the tears were already pooling in the bottom of my eyelids and I knew I was going to lose it all. My composure, my dignity, my goddamned mind. It was all going to come gushing out right there onto the floor of that kitchen in that store on Highway 80 in some town no one has ever heard of but where the story of my life keeps unfolding. Or unraveling. Faster than I know what to do with. I want to scoop up all the pieces of me that are floating all over this town I’ve never loved and pack them up in a suitcase and take them somewhere…anywhere. Away from here. Away from this. A hotel room in the city, a cabin in the woods, a shack on the beach, a tent in the desert, a sleeping bag under the stars.

My Life: The Series

Bad Decisions
Failed Attempts
Wandering Lust
Half Attempts
Daydream Realities
No Attempts
A Too-Sad Heart

All I’ve ever learned from love was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.”

Hallelujah.

A cold and broken hallelujah.

If I could carry your grief until it was light enough for you to lift it, I would.

If I could take your pain and expunge it from your heart and bury it in the farthest corner of a place you can’t find on any map, I would.

The time it takes to say “I love you” and choose not to cry for the sixty-seventh time today. How much time is that? A minute? Thirty seconds?
Maybe 7.2 seconds and it’s lights out forever. Maybe it’s only a journey as short or as long as a sentence. From the first capital letter all the way to the period. Question mark? Exclamation point! Commas are just baby heart palps along the way.
That hardly seems fair, does it?
Maybe if I don’t punctuate any of the sentences things will never end and we’ll just go on and on forever and can stay here on the surface and not get sent into the abyss
the void
the nothing
the eternal darkness
the nether
the nor
the final fade
the last curtain
7.2 seconds and it’s lights out forever and ever amen hallelujah and do you think there’s a god in the universe or a place to see light or just this darkness that eats away at the lining of my stomach and sits on the far reaches of my soul until I can’t breathe and I want to drown in my own misery just to stop feeling all the feelings when a simple thing like “Stephanie I love you” threatens to unleash all the tears as I try for the sixty-eighth time in one day to choose not to cry but it’s never a choice not really it’s never a choice,
I am a hostage
inside my mind
inside my brain
inside my heart
inside these fingertips
inside this mouth
that speaks words of love but hurls words of insult against the aching breaking heart of a nine year old little boy who’s whole world is built on acres of broken glass and burning coals where the threat of disaster looms with each unsteady step he takes and I don’t know how to clean up this mess we have created for him in his one and only life that I tried so hard to keep together but it all just fell apart and I don’t know how to put it back
I don’t know how
I don’t know how
I don’t know how
and in 7.2 seconds it’s lights out and he’s left there in the destruction as I fall into the abyss
his nine year old face looking out over this scorched field of glass and coals
my own personal hell
I’ll live in
for all eternity
forever
and ever

seven point two seconds

maybe not even that long.

I did my best, I know it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I learned to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come here to fool ya

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