Losing the War

 The dark crowded around her like a pack of starved vampires. She gasped for breath against the oppressive shadows. Her throat felt stuffed with hurt and she tried to swallow but only managed a sob.

'Too much, all too much' she thought as she sank to the floor and curled there like a beaten dog while the pain washed over her with vicious kicks. Gasping and panting, she tucked her head under her arms, trying to hide, hoping to die. She needed it, craved it, tried to hold it close as a long lost love, but it slipped through her fingers every time.
 The beating of her heart was a jackhammer ripping through the concrete of her sanity. She could feel it, chipping away shard by shard until she must surely shatter. 'Why didn't it stop?' She closed her eyes against the manic thunder pulsing through the pounding veins in her forehead. 'God it hurt so fucking much!' Pain ran from her eyes and left her weak. Even the stained carpet against her cheek felt like needles whose only purpose was to torture what was left of her spirit.
  It had to end.
  She struggled to her hands and knees, blinded by tears. Their taste was so familiar to her now she could remember nothing else ever having passed her lips. Coughing and gulping air, she groaned as she staggered to her feet. The effort left her dizzy and panting as she fumbled toward the hall in a daze, her chest so tight with sorrow and frustration every step was an effort of sheer screaming will.
  Make it stop.
  Reaching the bathroom, she leaned on the doorframe and felt around for the switch. Closing her eyes on a fresh wave of brilliant ache, she braced herself on the counter, head sagging between her shoulders. The ceramic and tile echoed her whimpering cries back to her ears in a chorus of woe. Closing her hand around the first solid object she felt, she picked it up quickly and swung. Glass rained sharply around her from the shattered mirror, but she faced it with a broken smile, finally able to look up and face the remains of herself in the spiderweb of cracks, a mosaic of pain that somehow satisfied her waning sense of balance.
  Her eyes lowered, drawn to the shimmering knives beckoning on the counter. Tenderly, she picked one of the glass fragments up. It lay across the palm of her hand like a sudden gift from the goddess of tears. She stroked it gently, caressing a sliver of memory too fragile to touch. Closing her hand around it, she squeezed, exchanging one ache for another. A hiccup of pain shook her shoulders then quelled to mere shuddering breaths. When she looked down once more at her crystal dagger, only bleak calm remained in her darkened eyes. She watched red drops fall slowly to stain the carpet at her feet. Lifting the glass, she placed its coolness against her cheek. Eyes closed for a moment on another time, another place, she felt the thrilling heat of flesh on her cheek beyond the edge of pain. Turning her head, the bite of glass on her lips broke the reverie. She tasted blood among the tears. She dragged the point of the glass lightly over her chin and along the line of her throat from her ear toward her shoulder. Ever so lightly, like fingertips, or taunting fingernails...
 Holding tenuously to something far beyond the pain, she embraced it, point first, and let the hurt seep slowly away.
Sonja Torres 2001


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