It’s okay.

I should have worn boots. I know that no one clears the parking lot of snow. Yet, I wore thin flats. Shoes are the least of my worries. With a heavy instrument case in each hand, I stepped back from the trunk. Charlie stepped forward to collect his single instrument. He left immediately, leaving me to close the trunk door. I know he’s just being absent minded. Yet, my spirits still fall. An early start to another day…

It’s okay.

“Sorry, I should’ve closed that.” Charlie’s voice echoes in my ears.

I bite my lip. He always says that. It shouldn’t bother me as much as it does. I swallow my breath.

“It’s okay.” My words are squeaky, forced out of my clenched throat.

He doesn’t notice my grim face; he never does.

“Why would he?” my brain grunts.

“He used to,” my heart cries.

“Not anymore,” my brain is whispering. “Stopping crying. He’s changed.”

Charlie is greeted by everyone when we enter the room. Not me. I’m standing in the light, yet I feel like I’m in the shadows. I keep my eyes down. Charlie asks what’s wrong.

“Maybe he’s still in there...” my heart whispers in hope.

I open my mouth and start to tell him. Tell him I’m drowning. Tell him I’m scared. Tell him that he is drowning. But I see his eyes straying away. Straying, even as I try to explain the pits of the breakage inside me.  He cares, but not here. Not now. Not when I need him most. He’s watching Julia.

I frown and stop talking. He doesn’t notice my silence.

It’s okay.

He doesn’t know about the desolation inside me. No one does.

I catch a glimpse of the dark sunshine behind the door. I breathe in the air for a second, blinking long and hard. I want to escape back outside. Instead, I sit down next to Charlie and Julia. They’re talking quietly. I force a smile–I’m pretty good at that. They giggle. I don’t know why.

“Hey Charlie,” I begin.

He looks at me.

“Do you know if…” I trail off.

He’s not listening. Julia is talking to him instead. She didn’t hear me. He didn’t either. I close my mouth; I close my heart. I turn away and pretend to have said nothing.

I’m starting to get used to it. It’s making me more bitter–I can feel it sizzling in my veins. I don’t like it, but every time I try to get away, I only get pulled back. I fall deeper, deeper, deeper. It’s like the further I am from it, the more painful it is when I inevitably get hit again. Like pulling a rubber band. Smack.

It’s taking a toll on him too. I can see the light of darkness in his eyes. It wasn’t there before. His posture is slumped. His face is sickly and pulled tight. There are dark circles under his eyes. His originality is gone.

It’s okay.

No, no.

It’s not.


Written: March 2017

A.R. Hansen

Author of Battle of the Mind