Wake

It feels like I’ve long woken up from a dream and even if I shut my eyes, I can’t go back.

You all look like you did in my dream but you move differently now.

I take the photos down because the memories don’t feel real anymore. It’s too painful a reminder of a warmth and ease that no longer exist.

Sure, we still go places but it isn’t the same. Beneath the surface there is nothing but empty eyes and checking the time.

What did you fill my cup with?

Something doesn’t feel right.

There are more ghosts than ever. Poking around and staring at me.

Everything is bland, the colour isn’t as bright and feelings aren’t as strong. I’m tired.

Night falls. I lay in bed and once again close my eyes. Maybe this is all just a bad dream.

Bitter

——————————————————————————————————————–
Before you read my story below, please keep a few things in mind.

I am recounting something that happened to me many years ago but still continues to have a profound effect on my life to this day.

When I was in highschool I wrote a version of this story which had been lost and so I have spent the last little while piecing together the memories and taking a somewhat painful but ultimately cathartic journey to re-tell my story.


This story is about sexual assault and you may find it triggering or upsetting. I was prompted to revisit this piece due to having an extremely strong emotional reaction after I was approached in a shopping centre toilet recently.

Some of you may know a verion of this story, others may have heard me mention it very briefly and some of you may be learnign this for the first time.

Please understand that this was difficult for me to write, it is even more difficult for me to press the publish button and immensely more difficult to have extended conversation about this with anyone.

——————————————————————————————————————–

It was another scorching summer day and I found myself in Borders searching the manga section to see if they had the latest volume of the Kindaichi Case Files, a murder mystery series I was thoroughly addicted to. There was nothing quite as thrilling as following the adventures of  the two teenagers Hajime and Miyuki finding themselves at the centre of seemingly endless grizzly murders that they ended up solving without the help of the police.
Despite knowing deep down that it wouldn’t be in stock because manga was barely flying off the shelves and Christmas was only two weeks away – there was something comforting about perusing a shelf of books hoping I might strike gold.
Two careful scans and no luck. There was, however, something else that caught my eye. Something I could not let anyone else see me looking at.
The manga section was always quiet, and today was no exception. Looking both ways to check that I was in the clear, I slowly crouched down and located one of the men’s love series called Gravitation. Taking a volume from the shelf carefully as if one wrong move would set off alarms and out me right then and there – I gave the action my full concentration.
Slowly, slowly and safe.
No alarm.  
I flicked through the pages to see if there anything steamy. I couldn’t seem to find anything of interest but every time I heard a muffled voice becoming clearer and louder it made me jump and I would look around me again.
Still no one.
It all felt too risky, so I put Gravitation back. 
Slowly getting back up, I moved to another section I knew I wouldn’t be interested in.
It looked like I was browsing just as I was before but this time my eyes were out of focus as I ran a finger across the uneven spines rippling along the shelves.
I would do this a lot, it felt performative. Often, I would lose myself in this state of this performative nothingness. It was calming.
“Did you find what you were looking for?” Mum called out from behind me. My focus came right back to the self-help books in front of me and I turned around to find Mum standing at the far end of the aisle with shopping bags in either hand.
“No, they didn’t have it.”
Mum pursed her lips slightly, “Come on, let’s go get something to eat and then we can find presents for the cousins.”

While I had largely escaped shopping duties since I was, until recently swamped with exams and end of year assignments, now that I was on holidays – I had been enlisted to help.
I didn’t really mind because Mum always let me look at the things I liked as well. Though, she may have preferred it if I was buying less manga.    

We left Borders and walked through from the recently renovated section of Highpoint to the older section which had barely been touched since I was a much younger. I couldn’t count how many times it had just been Mum and I, sometimes my brothers and dad too – walking through Highpoint, on a mission for something. We’d fought, laughed and cried walking through this shopping centre. I had come to Highpoint with my friends, exchange students and even by myself a few times, it was very much a place that had been a constant backdrop in my life.

Mum and I had made our way to the food court we always went to. It had the place she liked to get her sandwiches from and the Chinese place that I liked. Recently, they had also started selling sushi.

Putting her shopping bags down, Mum took a spot at a table by the fountain.  She pulled out her wallet and passed me a twenty dollar note, “Make sure you get yourself a drink too.”
“Thanks.”

Looking at the offering in the bain-marie, I decided the sushi looked more appetizing. Summer never made me feel like having anything incredibly hot anyway. On top of this, I could almost hear Mum saying something about chicken sitting in the bain-marie all day and food poisoning. 
Two hand rolls and an aloe vera drink would do me.

Mum looked at the drink suspiciously, “What’s that?”
“It’s an aloe vera drink, it’s really nice!”
Raising an eyebrow, she took a sip “Not sure about the chunks but it tastes much better than I thought.”
I set myself down and Mum went off to get her food. I was convinced that she would get a salad sandwich and probably some kind of juice. A water was also a possibility but definitely not a soft drink.

Munching away on my sushi, I looked around and wondered if I would see anyone from school. The bright food court was bustling with unfamiliar faces. No one I knew.

Mum came back, she had a juice with her sandwich.

“So, after this, we just need something for the twins. All the others have been sorted. What do you think we should get them?”
I had no idea. I was close to the twins, but we had very different interests. Wondering what I could suggest, I went for the safe option, “What about something from the body shop? They go on holidays a lot so maybe some stuff they can travel with.”
Mum thought for a moment, “You’re right, they’re always at the holiday house in summer. What about some cute beach towels?”
It was totally different from what I suggested but I told myself that I must have helped Mum arrive at this conclusion somehow.
“That sounds good.”
For some reason whenever I found myself in a shopping centre, I always had to go to the toilet frequently and suddenly, “I’m just going to go to the toilet. I’ll be back.”
“I’ll wait here then.” Mum took another bite of her sandwich as she looked down at the water distorting the colourful tiles in the fountain.  

Walking down the quiet hallway to the toilet, the slap of my thongs with each step was much more noticeable. The toilet was empty, and I went to the cubicle down the end, carefully placing toilet paper on the seat before sitting down and staring off into space.
Memories from the year floated into my mind before disappearing again, plans I would make with my friends over the summer break and of course when I would get the next volume of Kindaichi. Slowly I started thinking about the two years of VCE that faced me, how would I do? What would life be like after that?
As I spaced out, I didn’t hear someone enter the toilets and then the cubicle next to me.
“Psst.” Came a voice from above me.
I jumped and looked up to see a man in his mid to late thirties staring down at me.
Unsure, all I could manage was, “What?”
His eyes narrowed and I saw them ogle me where I sat, devouring every part of bare skin he could lay his eyes on. He mouthed something to me that I couldn’t quite make out but instinctively I said no.
Maybe he wanted toilet paper, I found myself wondering.
His head disappeared, and I felt a sense of relief.
Slowly cleaning myself up, I heard him call out to me again. I looked up and saw that this time he was holding a twenty dollar note in his hand.
He mouthed again to me “Suck?”
I shook my head and looked down at the floor. The thudding sound of my blood coursing through my body echoed in my ears and I felt glued to where I was, unable to move. That itchy feeling in my chest and a shaky weakness spreading to every part of my body.
I tried to focus on the tiles of the floor and see if I could find patterns like I did at home sometimes. There were definitely no patterns, but I kept trying. Maybe there was something in the grout. Just focus on the grout.
Without warning, something grabbed my leg and started pulling strongly. For a moment I watched without reacting, as if I had lost control of my body.
My mind was screaming to pull back, but my body wouldn’t – or couldn’t respond.
My shin hit the divider and scraped painfully as a strong grip held it firmly in place. That’s when I felt something wet and warm on my toe – I tried to jerk back but struggled and I realised it was his mouth.
For a moment I did nothing and then as I felt his grip relax slightly, I pulled back and managed to get free.
As quickly as I could, I got myself together and opened the cubicle door.
He was one step ahead of me, waiting on the other site of the door and pushed into the cubicle as I tried to get out, pushing me backwards onto the toilet seat. He towered above me. He held up a finger to his mouth, “Shhh”
The man leaned in close to me and started sloppily kissing my neck, I recoiled and squirmed but I couldn’t move away. His foul tongue scraping me and his hot, putrid breath filling my nostrils. I watched as his hand snaked its way into my pocket and fiddle around a bit.
Slowly he moved back, the saliva on my neck was still connected to his lips.
His crotch was level with my face.  In a swift movement, he pulled down his shorts to reveal himself.
I tried to move backwards, but he used one of his hands and pushed my head towards him, “You know you want it.”  
The smell was strong and repulsive.
I felt like I wanted to cry but I couldn’t.
With one hand holding himself and the other on the back of my head, he forced it into my mouth. That’s when I felt myself leave my body.
I watched from above as my empty eyes stared at nothing and he rhythmically thrusted back and forth. Both hands on the back of my head. The rest of my body was limp.

At the time I didn’t realise it, but this is what it felt like to break apart completely. To be smashed into pieces beyond my control.

It wasn’t clear how much time had gone by. But I felt something hot and bitter shoot into my mouth while he held my head firmly in place. He uttered the word, “Swallow.” As an order.
My mind still empty, I complied.
He moved back and pulled up his shorts before leaving the cubicle.

For a time, I sat there, unsuccessfully attempting to process what had just happened.  
I had slowly come back to my body but not all the pieces were there. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I knew that a part of me was gone – destroyed.
No longer was my heart pounding loudly in my ear, my body no longer shook, I was numb.

Eyes still unfocused, I stood up and quietly exited the cubicle before washing my hands, face and neck. I washed my mouth out. I then pressed the soap dispenser and put it in my mouth to wash it. I just wanted to get rid of that bitter taste. After drying off, I exited the toilets.

The hallway was quiet, just as it had been and going out back into the food court, everything was just as it was before.
Mum was still sitting by the fountain but her sandwich was long finished, “What took you so long?”
“Oh sorry, my stomach was a bit upset.”
“It was probably that drink.”
“Yeah.”
“Okay, are you ready to go? Let’s go find those beach towels for the twins.”
I nodded.

As we walked back through to the shops, I felt my mind drift. Something about what had just happened felt so unreal. Maybe it didn’t happen. It couldn’t have happened.
I reached into my pocked and felt the note. A sinking feeling, a wave of dread engulfing me.
 
Everything looked the same, but it somehow all felt so different.

Petrified, that it would be my fault, I pushed it down and focused on the towels we had to find.

Dating since 11/21

Stream of conciousness style writing on my reflections of encounters on dating apps and with people I have met and interacted with since becoming single. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t matter what clothes someone puts on, what their pronouns are or which part of the city they live in – we say some pretty interesting things to eachother.

In isolation these comments may not mean much, but built up they take a toll. If this is a summarised version of my experience over nearly six months, imagine what other people must be getting. Doing this activity was both cathartic and confronting for me.

Reflections: Lots of cancellations, poor follow ups, lots of sex, amazing lessons in human interaction, behind anonymity people say some horrible things, people are really bad liars, people often like the idea of you, give it a week and they’ll have forgotten who you are, subtle flirtation is lost on way too many people, great book recommendations, people will come to you for recommendations but not want to hang out with you, people believe what they want to believe, people don’t often mean what they say, no one knows what they’re doing (me included). Never lose hope.

Hi
Hey
Expiring photo received
You’re back?
I haven’t seen you before!
Come over
His loss
I’m open to anything
Come over
Do you host?
Expiring photo received
I can’t believe you’re single
I’d love to see you again
Sweet dreams x
Come over
You’re fucking disgusting
When can I smash that?
How about a drink king?
You’re gorg
Long time no see
Your perm looks shit
I had a great time tonight.
When am I seeing you again?
You must be a real slut
How many other guys are you seeing?
Hey
We met before right?
Hi
Hi
Fuck you
How far off are you???
Take your time, no pressure x
Do you just feel sorry for me?
I’m used to guys throwing themselves at me so it really shakes my confidence when you don’t.
Hi
????
Expiring photo received
If I see you down the street I’m going to fuck you up you little cunt
You’re a really sweet guy but I’ve met someone else that I want to give it a go with
I’m bottom too…
Hey
Hey hi
Suck me
I’d rather have you bent over my bed though…
You free tonight?
I need you…
Looking?
Hey I just got my results and…
I just don’t trust guys who have discreet written on their profiles
You’re gonna break my heart
Where are you taking me tonight?
You’re so cold
Aww thanks, I’ll grab drinks next time x
Your whole narrative thing really fucked me up. That’s such a dark way of looking at the world.
Hey
Why didn’t you touch me?
Where r u?
Looking?
You don’t look queer
There was no connection between us. I hope you find what you’re looking for.
You’re close!
Ah – bit too far from Collingwood…
Come sit on my lap baby x
You’re in footscray right?
I wanna be inside you
Your body is ugly
About tomorrow, something’s come up
Tell me more about yourself
Can you be on all fours?
I would have asked you to come back but I was so tired x
I’m deleting this app soon so if you’re serious about talking to me gimme your details
Hey
When u gonna come to daddy?
Hi
Looking?
Muscle only
Can I eat your poo?
????
Fuck you
I’ll let you know cutie xx
You’re sitting at a café right?
What’s that bar you took me to?
I can see you
What you doing?
Hey big boy
My man
Hosting on spencer street
I’m always SO horn on here, hit me up on insta and we can have a coffee xx
I woke up this morning and I’m feeling like I have a bit of a cold
I promise I’ll make it up to you!
Hey u
Can you tell me a cute date spot?
You’re close
Host or travel?
Just ditch your friends so I can fuck you good
You look cute in those shorts
Expiring photo received
hey x
Ur a slutty one
This is a vibe
Where r u from?
I had a great time
Nice
Too far
Hi
Dialling now
Which level?
Nice
I don’t travel outside of fitzroy
What natio?
Slut
Got more pics?
Did you read my profile?
Liked your message
Last night was magical, thank you.
OH its you
Can we smoke a j together?
You are funny
Defs chat and cuddle
I don’t think I got it from you but…
My house mate came home sick
Slut
Likewise
You like being slutty don’t you???
lol
Hahaha
What do you think of this guy?
Can I use your mouth?
I’ll be in touch cutie x
Hi
What?
Hi
Looking?

Socks

“Hey Miz, you’re late! Socks is waiting.” Sachi’s eyes were boring into me while she sucked on a rolled cigarette. She always did her own. One thing about Sachi and her cigarettes was that she rolled them thick and clean. They would lie neatly in the case like chalk they used to use back before whiteboards were a thing.
One elegant puff out, the smooth rush of the smoke passed her lips, forking in two directions before diffusing throughout the low-lit reception.
“Yeah, yeah. Don’t say that too loud. He’ll lose it if he hears we call him that.” I say, my cheeks flushing.
Socks was one my regulars. A bit of a lump, he was balding but really generous. He would usually tip way more than the base fee and whenever he travelled for work he’d bring me a trinket from a place he’d been. Socks knew I never got to leave the big city and it was sweet how he would do that just for me.
He got the name Socks because his request was that we both left our socks on during. As far as kinks went, it was on the easy side. I wore white socks, and he usually wore his black business ones. I bet his draw was filled with hundreds of the same type and colour.
Socks was married and I didn’t know his real name or where he lived but sometimes he would talk about his wife. After she got three kids out of him, she wouldn’t even touch him let alone look at him and so he started coming to our little establishment. There’d been a few times over the years we got raided but our client books with the real details were kept elsewhere. The cops knew what we were doing but they could never prove it. If they got too close then we’d send our boys from down the road to make sure they knew not to get any closer. We didn’t pay our yearly local neighbourhood protection fee for nothing y’know?

I quickly slid out of my day clothes, patted my self down with a moist towelette and slipped my bedroom socks on. I knocked twice before opening the door.
Socks was lying on the bed, completely naked except for his black business socks. He smiled at me, “There’s my Miz.”
“I missed you.”
“Sorry baby. Business. But I got you something.”
I ran over and sidled up with Socks on the bed, his feet tangling with mine. Different sock materials causing an erotic friction. I didn’t find him physically attractive but there was something about his touch that made me feel so safe. He smelled like herbal soap and was impeccably clean. He also finished quickly.
Afterwards, I nestled into him, kissing his arm gently as his breathing slowed back to normal.
“So, what’s my present?” I said with another kiss.
He smiled and whispered into my ear. I giggled and kissed his arm again.

Letterbox

I peek inside my letterbox everyday, even on a weekend and hope I’ll find a letter from you.

You’re gone, I know that.

You aren’t coming back, I know that.

At first it’s like you never existed but all I have to do is scratch the surface and it’s all there. We are there, that time.

The good times were good and the bad times were bad. Ups and downs like a rocky sea on a stormy night.

I can’t forget your smell and the comfort it gave me but I also can’t forget how I felt like I was fading the longer I was with you. Was that your fault? I don’t know, probably not.

Now I’m free and floating without a tether. I’m free but am I in control?

A glimpse of a face in the crowd, a profile with no face. Is it you? Do I want it to be you? What if it is? Then what? Nothing.

Another ghost, another day.

Who is poking around on my balcony under the light of the moon?

When I open the door, is that your cooking I smell?

You know I still put the ear plugs in at night? I tell people it’s because I sleep better but to be honest it’s because I sometimes still hear your snoring even though you aren’t there. I had the worst sleep while we were together. Now I sleep like the dead and I don’t know myself.

Sometimes I can talk about you and sometimes I can’t without crying but that’s life. It couldn’t have been any other way.

I peek inside the letterbox and I know there is nothing in there but I unlock it and check anyway. Maybe tomorrow.

Window

In the mornings when I swim, before I get into the pool I look up at the apartments around me. Crowding around like still giants.

Sometimes I sit there for who knows how long and I pick a window, even though I can’t see much of what or who is inside I imagine their world and their life.

Each window has a story. It’s always morning and someone is going to work.

They use the same lights I do but they probably have a toaster which I don’t have. I use the grill, too much clutter with a toaster.

Today, this guy is going to work, he’s eating dry toast and watching the news while he drinks a milky coffee. The apartment smells like toast. The TV volume is low and the bedroom door is closed- someone is still sleeping.

Who is it? Maybe it’s his wife or boyfriend. What if he’s divorced and this is the day he has custody of his daughter?

Shouldn’t she be getting up for school though? Maybe it’s school holidays. Is it? I can’t even remember.

He looks out the window and thinks about his day ahead. All those meetings to get through until the end of the day.

I wonder if his job is stressful? Does it pay well?

The guy takes a swig of coffee and another bite of the crunchy toast. He’s dressed a bit more nicely than usual because he’s going out after work. I wonder where he’s going?

Would he give me a second look if he passed me in the street? Have we ridden the elevator at the same time before?

I turn my attention back to the room and see the bedroom door opening slowly. An older woman comes out in a nightie. He looks up and says one word but I can’t make it out. He doesn’t smile.

Is that his mother? Or is he just into older women? Could even be his sister. Not everything has to be sexual.

She frowns at him but still heavy with sleep doesn’t have the energy to do much more.

The toast smell is going into the bedroom now with the door wide open. The older woman shuffles over to the kitchen before grabbing a white mug, starts making herself a coffee but stops short of pouring the hot water and milk in.

She pauses for a moment, looking up and sighs before shuffling back into the bedroom and closing the door.

Did they have a fight? They seem to be going through something awkward. I hope he isn’t hitting her.

The man leaves his plate, mug with some coffee at the table. Does he really expect her to clean it up? Typical.

He puts on his shoes, picks up a sorry looking leather suitcase before walking out the door. I hear the slam and it seems signify the end of this little story.

They real occupants will never know that I was imagining their lives and I’ll never know what their real lives are like.

I come back into myself and blank for a moment. I’m exhausted. Looking up at the window once more. I can’t physically see any of what I just saw in my mind.

I need to swim.

I don’t hesitate a moment longer and slip into the cool, calm water.

Journal 13/01/2022

The reflection of the fan blades on the dark screen of my phone. Is it a [BLANK]? It definitely isn’t but I check anyway.

Trying to break a [BLANK] I don’t wanna break deep down.

I wonder if everyone spends as much time [BLANK] to work as I do. What else would they be doing?

Telling myself once I get through the ones left on my [BLANK] I’ll settle down and be content.

That’s what I call telling myself a goddamn [BLANK]. They say, to be a good [BLANK, you need to first convince yourself of your own [BLANK].

Do you think [BLANK] knows?

When [BLANK] looks at me when we [BLANK] do you think he wants to [BLANK] me?

To be honest I feel like deep down everyone wants to [BLANK] me one way or another.

Yeah, I know – I’m a real [BLANK]. You don’t need to tell me what I already know.

Bored with [BLANK] when I have it but yearning for [BLANK] when I don’t have it. I’m a classic [BLANK]!

Do you follow [BLANK]?

Oh, no I don’t use [BLANK].

Oh…[BLANK]!

I think I’m gonna [BLANK] before I [BLANK].

Night

I don’t know what his name was but it was a great time.

Would I go there again? Probably not.

Do I regret it? Absolutely not.

My watch tells me I’ve beat my previous exercise record. Yeah, you’re telling me!

Flinders is further than Southern Cross but I decide I can make the train from Flinders. This part of Flinders Street is weird, there are four or five kebab stores right next to each other, some crappy hotels and on the other side some apartments and two rail bridges blocking clear line of site to the Yarra.

Soon enough that lightening bolt building comes up. It’s all black and has a lightening bolt on it. I don’t know what it is but this guy is standing in front of it. The very guy who tapped me before online. We look at each other and he looks away quickly. He’s got a real romper stomper vibe about him, but it’s all aesthetic. All bark and no bite. He’s scrolling on his phone but it’s just the Home Screen.

I play some songs on repeat as I bound towards Flinders Street.

Thinking about a lot of things.

Thinking about how when you have music in your ears that you’d life feels like a music video. Even when a homeless person says something to you as you walk past but when you’ll look, the only words coming out of their mouth are the lyrics to the song.

Thinking about how I feel flexing my freedom.

Thinking about how I get random threats on the app from someone who knows way more about me than a stranger should.

I’m thinking about what lies ahead and I really don’t know.

It’s more of the same but better.

Through the ticket barriers and past a station man helping someone with their myki.

Down the steps and I see an emaciated woman in a loose fitting tatty pink dress peeing on the wall and screaming. But the words coming out of her mouth are the lyrics to the song.

My heart is pounding in my chest.

Up the stairs and look at that, two minutes to spare.

Bega

We’ve been driving forever.

Mum got sad and stopped talking when Ayla asked if we were there yet for the hundredth time. Sometimes the white noise from the radio stops and a few words come through.

Eva-

Do not-

Las-

Dad whistles half a tune every now and then.

White noise, gravel road and the rumble of the car. The sky is blue.

Ayla is fixated on something in the corner of the window near her seat. The windows are locked – we aren’t to wind them down.

Whenever we drive somewhere for the holidays it always takes so long and the last time we did I was sick and vomited on the seat. Even after we cleaned it there was still a smell but Dad got a new work car since then so I promised I would tell them if I felt sick so they could stop the car. I haven’t been sick yet and I think I won’t vomit the whole way.

Dad’s eyes are fixed on the road. Usually when I look into Dad’s eyes, they are bright like the sunlight bouncing off little puddles after the rain. Right now they look empty, like the eyes on one of Ayla’s stuffed toys.

A green sign passes but I can’t read it. The sky is grey-brown.

With a blink, Dad seems to come to life, “Guys! Only 20k’s to Bega!”. He glances around, beaming.
I don’t know what Bega is and I don’t know why we’re going there. We’ve been driving non-stop since last night I think. Mum and Dad woke us up at night and told us we were going on a holiday. We didn’t even get to pack our bags but they said we could buy things when we got to Bega.

God-

Mass-

Shel-

Mum looks back at us for a moment and smiles faintly. Her eyes are red, she looks past us a for a moment and her face changes. Eyes wide, I can see the red around the edges. Lip quivering. She quickly turns back and grabs Dad’s arm as he drives, her knuckles are white. Dad doesn’t say anything.
I want to look back but the last time Ayla and I tried to Mum and Dad both screamed at us. Dad never screams but I never saw him look so scared when he did.

Mum and Dad are looking at each other now, he’s not looking at the road anymore.
Mum’s crying and so is Dad. They both smile while they’re crying. I don’t know why.
How long has it been? I don’t know.
They both look back at us, “Only 15 k’s to Bega! Why don’t you two have a rest before we get there? We don’t want you napping when we’re walking around town.” Mum smiles through the tears. Her smile doesn’t seem real.  
The sky is a red-brown, it’s almost glowing and getting brighter like a weird sunset.

Ayla has stopped playing and is asleep.

Do- on the cor-
Ou- in t-e street
Willy and the – are playin’
Bring a ni-, ta- your feet-

Oh, it’s that song that used to be on the radio all the time when I was in prep. I remember how hot the summer was back then. It feels like it’s getting that hot now.

The glow is getting brighter as I close my eyes. I feel sleepy.

Grid

You’re not next to me but you’re with me.

I know that, I swear I do.

It’s a Saturday night isolated but I know I’m not alone. I know I’m loved. Especially by you.

Despite this, I can no longer focus on whatever I put on the TV that I thought would distract me enough. I look down to that grid. I’m scanning the grid knowing you wont be there. My brain and my heart are telling me to stop looking but as if by some phantom habit, my body now moves on it’s own.

This search also turns up nothing.

I don’t feel relieved.

I feel empty,

I feel dark,

I feel uncomfortable.

My eyes close, I reset and open up to find the grid is gone.

I’m pacified for now but I know I have to be stronger next time, I know I can’t go on like this.

I’m praying for strength and most of all I’m praying for faith.