A caffeine rush to the heart. It’s all I have to keep me going, to keep me alive. One day it won’t be enough.
But for now my vital signs are intact. My veins are a vibrant blue pushing through my ill skin. The air is cold as it’s sucked in through my nostrils, and tepid as it escapes.
Before I leave I check all the rooms – double check – to make sure. But each room is bursting with the same full emptiness. A pregnant nothing. An overflowing sense of abandonment.
I might explode. I feel it welling inside of me, gas-like, monstrous.
I close the door behind me and step out onto the street. My bruised senses are abused once more. The noise, the lights, the people, anger me. Especially the people. A stranger bumps into me. I want to punch her. I want to grab her bony little wrist, force her to the ground and pummel her until the Bystander Effect wears off and I am tackled to the ground. But she rests her hand against the flesh of my arm for balance, apologises without meeting my eyes and moves forward.
It’s the first time I’ve been touched in weeks.
The anger subsides. Two thousand and twenty five concrete slabs pass until I reach work.
Behind my desk I check my phone for new messages. There are ten.
My mind is almost bursting with this emptiness. I try to redirect my train of thought, but I am not strong enough to hold the lever down. The tracks won’t change. I derail.
I feel you in everything.
I feel you with every painful heartbeat.
I feel you around me, in me, weighing me down with your memory.
I cannot bear it.
You bring inanimate objects to life. I see you in the swirled pattern of my ceiling, in the fuzziness of the office rug, in the curvature of my lonely signature, in each dissolving granule.
Without realising it, I allowed you to shape my world. No. More than that. I allowed you to become my world. I wrapped my entire existence around you like a baby wraps its fist around his mother’s finger.
And now all I have left to keep me going is intangible. Too hot to touch. Too bland to taste.
Three knocks on the door signal lunch. My secretary enters but she has your face. Her mouth is opening and shutting and the anger is building and the only thing that can stop the emptiness is focusing on the mug she carries.
It is too full. Filled to overflowing.
The precious liquid sloshes over the side.
And when she – you? Oh please let it be you –passes it to me, the mug drops from my hands.
My hands start to shake.
And hot liquid seeps everywhere. It pours down my face. It soaks into the carpet.
What a waste.
But I smile as I reiterate my order. My lifeline, if you will.