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What's It Like? a Short Poem About Abandonment

“What’s what like?”

“Being okay.” She picked at her fingers staring down into something deep and consuming. I became speechless when I heard her words. I had no idea, I knew nothing about being okay. It was just how things seem.

She pursed her lips and after years of studying her behaviors I knew she was holding back. Not knowing what to say I just watched her. The nervous picking and pulling at her skin saddened me. This habit made the skin on her face and fingers red, scabbing, and scarred. I knew what she went through. What she had done to get this far. Using her body as if it was a lawsuit and she was a lawyer. She didn’t care about anything but the reward and the good feeling of being wanted. Those who do and have known her have been nothing to her. They just kept her here. Supported her through the hospitalizations and medications, the deafening, suffocating depression that coated her like tar. It was sticky. People stick to her. They think they’ll help her move on if they stick an arm around her. No one leaves her. The ones who end up with the residue of her soul always come back, always.

Don’t get me wrong she was beautiful. She was something like a fantasy. That’s what attracted those men. Her flies sticking to the honey tasting-tar on her. I knew what she has done. I know what made her this way. I know what kept her that way.

“You are okay.” I assured looking into the distance. She gave a little laugh shaking her head. Her finger went up to her mouth so she could rip off a piece of flesh. I wanted to stop her but I knew I couldn't. Even if I had the power to she’d just push me away.

“Then why’d he leave?” Her voice became quiet and full of hurt. This story I knew all about and it made my heart ache to know it. It was something that changed her forever. Everyday it killed her to know what he did. What she could’ve done to stop it from happening and how she could’ve stopped me from happening.

I blocked that memory. The thought of it made me feel sick. Both of us blamed ourselves. She sniffled softly holding her sleeve up to her face. Instinctively I reached out to touch her face. It went right through her. I hated that I couldn’t touch her, feel her cheek just like I used to. But that was years ago. Years since we baked cookies and played tag in the woods never wanting it to end. I loved her, I still do. I know she wishes I was here, that I was still alive and holding her. It was different kind of love. Like soulmates but not lovers. Her intimacy wouldn’t dare taint what we had. What she had with him was something different. It was deep like the ocean and she drowned in it. He floated her to the surface so she could breathe, but he ended it with giving up. He crashed down on her filling her lungs and soul with bitter, salty, painful emotions. She forgot how to breathe. How to love. It killed her.

“He didn’t love you.” I offered this thought to her. A few seconds of silence passed before I heard her swallow her pain.

“He did. He said he did and he’d never stop.” Her voice cracked at the end showing what she hid. How he affected her was the most heart tearing process I’ve ever seen. When it happened she shook and seized and sobbed until passing out. She screamed for hours unable to take a breath. He took her heart. I saw him carve into her chest so carefully just to reach in and pull it out like a tooth. A tooth that had roots all through her body, entwined with every bone and cell. It was horrendous. Something the news wouldn’t even want to cover because of all the blood.

“He loved me. He said it. He meant it.” She repeated but her voice was shrill. She was hunched over and hugging her knees tight. You could feel the pain coming off of her. Just watching her made me feel something inhuman. It was like watching someone die in front of you, knowing they are in so much pain but you can’t do anything. This heartbreak was a form of cancer. She’d never be rid of it. This was her.


© 2019 Austin Koeckeritz

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