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  • Amelie de Casagrande

Without Her, Who Was I?

Orange light danced around and in between us. Her eyes met mine and her smile spread the warmth of a sunrise in Antarctica. I moved my legs beneath the sheets, the duvet hugging my naked body as her arms wrapped around my waist. We floated up through the clouds, twisting and turning with the golden rays permeating through my mind. Her fingers reached out and touched mine and a garden somewhere blossomed into life.

I was lying on the grass next to her, dust fairies dancing between us. The whole world was bright and open and safe.

I woke with my cheeks wet and the warm orange glow fading with every conscious breath I took. I held my breath and let it shimmer for a moment, felt it dip and flow around me. A feeling I couldn’t name. One I wanted to swim in forever.

Spattering raindrops on the wooden floor drew me reluctantly out of my dream-state. I shivered and got up to close the window, leaning my forehead against it until I could no longer bear the cold hard bite of the glass. Closing my eyes I turned and stepped deliberately towards the door. My hand reached out to trace along the wall, fingertips feeling their way over the map of the house I’d memorised by touch. This would be me one day. The dull colours of the world silenced and only the inside of my head to paint striking brush strokes across the canvas. I felt the doorpost and my eyelids fluttered open. 

The bar was full of life and intensity. It hadn’t taken long for the space to fill once again with bodies. Living bodies. Those that were left after the conflict had taken so many from us.

"One beer please.” 

“Only water for the ladies.” This was new. But I wasn’t about to start a fight I’d regret. I gave the bartender a glare as I grabbed the drink and took up my usual spot close to the exit. Relaxed my back against the hard wall.

A loud blast interrupted my meditation. My emotions became a tidal wave as a spike of fear shot through me, everything primed to fight. To run. Taking large gulping breaths I pushed my hand against my pounding heart, reeling myself in as if I was a caught fish that was thrashing and biting at the net. Where was she? I ran up the stairs, blasts getting nearer and nearer. Panic rendered me blind. Earlier than the doctors had suggested. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t breath. There wasn’t enough oxygen in the air. And I was going to die. She was going to die. I needed her there. She was everything. She couldn’t die. My mind was a race track and I was roaring. Crashing. Crashing down the landing as the landing crashed down around me. I leapt out of the rubble and ran. I was screaming. Shouting out my pain and fury and desperation as my soul tore apart.

But the building was still intact and I wasn’t running. I was sitting with the hard wall of the bar behind my back. My breaths evened out slowly. I could never, would never see her again. I’d left her. Like a useless rabbit I’d fled and now she was… I downed my water and got up.

That was when I saw her.

She was across the room from me, dancing. Laughing. 

Was it a trick of the light? My deteriorating eyesight finally catching up with me? My breath caught in my throat. The world stopped beating.

I started walking towards her through the crowd, slowly as if I was in a movie. Her hair flew over her shoulder as she turned.

Her eyes met mine.

I tried to catch the feeling. To put it in a box and save it, so I could take it out whenever I wanted. But she turned away and it slipped through my fingers. I leapt after it, tearing through groups of people I hadn’t seen come in. Groups who were forcing us apart. Like waves crashing me into the shore as she sailed away on a ship. I struggled against the tide, the bodies of dancing people. Laughing people. I just had to see her again.

And I was running. Shouting. Her name on my lips. She couldn’t be gone.

Because… because without her, who was I?

Without her I was nothing.


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