I never cared for anyone so much. I was born with a bomb inside my gut.
He had touched her.
And maybe he hadn’t meant to.
But her skin burns with the memory of it – even now.
Even now, weeks later. Foolish girl, haunted by the sound of the ice that had cracked beneath her and the barbed edge of his voice. She has imagined his throat lined with rust, like hers. Poor, lonely girl, fixated on something that meant nothing at all simply because it had awakened something long-dormant at the center of her. The thrill of being seen.
She does not fit in here, necessarily, but it’s easy to make herself invisible. It’s easy to tuck herself behind those colossal boulders so that she can watch things unfold from a safe distance. Because she does not know how to smile or make herself approachable. Because it’s easier to watch than it is to participate.
She does not know exactly what it is that drives her out of dense forest and into the rain. Nearing the end of winter, the rain still has a bitter sting. It cuts through her and the cold sinks into the marrow of her bones and chatters her teeth. The muscles spasm and shiver but she turns her face up to the sky.
Maybe it is the fact that she has not felt alive in weeks. Maybe it is because the cold jump-starts her pulse, hitches her breath. Because it’s better to feel pain than nothing at all. Because she shivers until the muscles ache and her clenched jaw pulses in time with her stutter-step heart. And there’s all that rust in her throat and maybe someday it’ll suffocate her.