17. like a mouthful of pebbles

I see these things, see you standing there in your mother’s kitchen with tears streaming down your cheeks. An odd feeling takes hold of you: something inside of you sensed it, you thought—something inside of you felt it coming.

— I’m sorry… I’m sorry.

Somehow you knew it was coming, didn’t you?

A shudder went through you when you heard the quiet click at the other end. You bore down on the receiver and hastily pressed the sequence of buttons that would bring her back to life again: the international code, the country code, your home phone number. Your fingers were trembling; you made a mistake, had to hang up and start again. This time, the connection went through; you shut your eyes tightly and listened to the faraway sound of the phone ringing at the other end. Answer, you thought. Please. But she didn’t respond; she didn’t want to talk to you anymore.

It was a strange new concept, an idea you were unable to grasp. She doesn’t love me anymore, she loves someone else: you repeated this to yourself over and over like a sentence in a foreign language, the vowels rolling over your tongue like a mouthful of pebbles sucked smooth by the tides of incessant use. Yet the content of the words had become indecipherable; you could only utter them phonetically, could only guess at their meaning. But then you noticed a tightening in your stomach, a leaden weight in your gut. Slowly, deliberately, you picked up a chair and smashed it against the wall, smashed it again and again until the legs cracked off and the rest of it went flying across the room. You sank to the floor, closed your eyes, and felt your stomach contract; you struggled to inhale and discovered that your breathing had grown dangerously shallow, that the amount of air your lungs were able to absorb was diminishing rapidly. You felt your heart falter, felt the blood in your veins and arteries congeal, its flow begin to labor. A dim thought dropped anchor in your mind: you will not survive this; she no longer loves you, and there is nothing more that you can do to change that.

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