Fiction Contemporary Sad

This story contains sensitive content

CW: Depressive thoughts, implied miscarriage

Like the past few days, it’s the cry of her phone that ends up waking her. 

Today, it only takes her five minutes to reach out and grab the shaking device, compared to the fifteen minutes she spent yesterday just numbly staring at it while it screamed at her. 

She slowly fumbles for it with a trembling hand, each finger closing around it like it’s a delicate piece of jewelry. Her eyelids still drooping, she swipes her thumb up to see the usual barrage of messages, bright and obnoxious and too much of a hassle to read. With a quiet click, she shuts off her phone and lets her hand drop. Her blankets are wrapped tightly around her, twisting the folds of her clothes into each other and encompassing her entirely.

She can’t breathe.

There’s an unbearable weight on her chest like something is pressing on her rib cage, but it can’t be the pillow because she remembered last night to place it underneath her head instead of just passing out like she usually does. 

Gritting her teeth, she tries to ignore the way every breath feels like agony, but worse yet is the nagging sense of emptiness, like someone had stolen something she had loved and destroyed it in front of her. There’s an empty space where a treasure should be, cold and lonely when it should be warm and loved.  She curls into a ball and tries to block out the onslaught of thoughts that have hounded her every day for what seems like years, even though it’s only been a few days. Everything hurts, from her chest to her stomach to her heart. 

Her phone rings again, and she manages to weakly reach over and pick it up from where she dropped it, eyes squinting at the new notification. The light hurts her eyes, but she manages to make out a few words. As she reads the message, she clenches the phone so tightly the case begins to dig into her fingers. 

How is she going to face him when he returns?

The day it had happened, when her world had come crashing down, she had texted him in a fury of anguish and despair and indecipherable nonsense. He hadn’t responded until the next day, his words stiff and stunted like he had tried to type a reply but accidentally sent it midway. She lets go of the phone, wondering if it’s possible to purposefully lose one’s train of thoughts, to become drunk in a sea of forgetfulness. 

She bites her lip, the stinging pain sharp and jagged against the fuzzy borders of her monochrome vision. She knows what the five stages of grief are and wonders how long she’s been stuck repeating the first four phases, not ready to embrace the idea of a loss so deep it seems to penetrate the arteries of her heart. 

After an eternity, she manages to uncurl and wriggle out from the chokehold of blankets. Her back slumped, she slides into her slippers (for once, she had remembered to use them instead of mindlessly gliding across the cold, wooden floor), and staggers across the room. Her footsteps are light, too light, and she nearly comes crashing to the floor all over again as she’s reminded of the missing weight that seemed to dangle from her neck like beautiful jewelry. 

She does not look at the corner of the room, once filled with wondrous ideas and plans, and now doomed to gather dust. 

Propping herself up against the wall, she gazes distantly out the window, where flakes of snow brush against the window, their little bodies melting into a flurry. Winter has come peacefully, too peacefully, and bathed the world in a soft white that is fluffy and delicate like the brush of a baby’s blanket. Her fingers dig into the palm of her hand. 

It’s never been colder. 

The holidays have arrived with their usual festive cheer and yet she hates them all the more for daring to be happy when she feels like she is drowning in her own sorrow. She somehow manages to stumble away from her spiraling thoughts and into the bathroom, facing her haggard reflection in the mirror. Her face is sharp and pale, with sunken bags beneath her swollen eyes. Despite it all, she still can’t help but envision another face in the mirror, round with fat and sweet with laughter, and feels another pang in her chest and that horrible sense of emptiness again. 

She has to get out. She has to distract herself somehow. She cannot dwell on ghosts anymore; even thinking about the word “ghost” makes her want to fall to the ground again and just stay there until the pain goes away. 

Her mind drifts to her computer, propped open on the table after a futile evening spent trying to work away all the grief threatening to swallow her up from the inside. She slowly walks over, trying to straighten out the slump in her back that seems to have taken residence permanently for the past few days. She turns on the computer and opens a new browser, hoping that whatever she discovers can finally give her enough motivation to leave the house for the first time in half a week and forget everything, if only for a few moments.

After wandering around a shopping mall’s website for several minutes, an advertisement springs up on the page, a shiny new promotion for the holiday craze. 

Ah. Right, she had planned to go shopping before he came home and surprise him with the new jacket he had been eyeing the last they had gone out together, along with a new pair of shoes for their morning runs. Had she wanted something for herself too? She can barely recall past the awful haze of loss and loneliness. 

She clicks on the pop-up and begins to scroll past dozens of price tags scratched out and replaced with bright new ones. She sighs, wishing she could order online but recalling how she had become so absentminded over the span of the last month to the point where she had even forgotten her account password. 

Her eyes drift to the front door, so close and yet the longest distance she’s walked in what seems to have been years. Maybe she should wait for him to come home, and they can shop together, browsing the catalog like they did when they were preparing for-

No, she can’t wait. 

Even the mere thought of waiting another day with walls that seem to suffocate her and blankets that are too hot and too cold at the same time and that awful, awful sense of loneliness makes her want to vomit. It doesn’t matter if he comes home in that very hour or the next day. She’s sure that if she spends one more second here dwelling on the void within her, she will wither away. She abruptly stands with a shocking amount of resolve and leaves to get dressed immediately. 

She hesitates when she sits down in her car, wondering if she should instead drive to a coffee shop instead of the mall. The thought of buying clothes as she had before her world stopped makes her head and heart pound. She doesn’t want to walk into the store and see the very thing she had been dreading ever since that feeling of hollowness had replaced the hopeful longing in her heart. Then she thinks of him, the way he will turn forlorn like she had, grieving silently for what they have both lost. She can’t go shopping with him, yet she can’t stay alone in the house, not when it seems more and more like a prison (or a graveyard) every day.

She makes her decision. 

It’s no longer snowing by noon, but the weather seems to have gotten fouler. The temperature had risen by enough degrees to convince the weather to assail everyone with cold water instead of gentle snowflakes.

She sighs as she watches the raindrops hit her windshield and streak across it in steep lines. She grips her wheel tightly as she pulls into the parking lot, wishing she had remembered to bring an umbrella.  Briefly, she considers just turning around and going home, but then she remembers the reason she had left in the first place. 

Locking the car behind her, she pulls the hood of her jacket over her hair and sprints across the lot as rain attacks her from behind. Her breath freezes and puffs up in the air, her cheeks red from being slapped by the cold.  She scrambles for shelter, finally ducking beneath the looming outstretched roof of the mall, where a few bird nests could be seen, ruined and abandoned. 

An empty nest. 

She shakes away the thought and grips the door. She’s trembling, and while she knows why, she still moves forward and opens the door, breathing in the rush of warm air, like a welcoming embrace. She slows, no longer fleeing, and tries to let herself melt in the heat as it beckons her forth, enticing her to drink it in and forget her worries. Her feet walk across wooden boards, listening to the chatter of the store fade into background noise. However, as she walks past one of the first sections, her heart immediately drops, and she stiffens. 

The mall is suddenly all too quiet and yet unbearably loud.

She closes her eyes, determined to move forward, but the thought of baby clothes (like the tiny red holiday onesie they had both gushed over) makes her head spin, freezing her as if she’s fallen into a pond of ice. 

No, no, no. Don’t think about that. Just grab what you came here for and go. 

The thought screams at her, trying to push away the torrent of emotions now threatening to make her collapse to the floor. It is as if both her body and soul know how deep her sorrow runs, and she wonders if perhaps the warm blood within her is now filled with cold sadness. She glances upward, hoping to bring her gaze away from the rows and rows of little onesies and dresses and tiny socks, mocking her for what she feels she will never have, despair etching out a hollow in her stomach. Even staring at the ceiling does not relieve her distress, merely heightening the urge to throw up in the nearby trashcan as if by emptying the contents of her stomach she can be rid of the awful maelstrom of anguish that haunts her very shadow. 

She cannot stay here, not when the spirit of what could’ve been still lingers here, innocent and yet so terrible. Nearly stumbling over her feet, she turns around, unable to bear the thought of returning when she still has yet to find herself. The cold slaps her as she barrels through the doors, a harsh reminder to snap out of the daze she trapped herself in, the false sense of comfort that she had when she entered the store. Again, she’s hounded by that desperate suffocating need to leave, to get somewhere far away from the storm of hurt that’s been brewing in her heart for days. 

Her feet splash against the wet puddles littering the asphalt, soaking her boots. There is no more festivity in the gray clouds above, as if they know of her pain and seek to comfort her by lowering themselves to her agony. Water pelts her face as the clouds rumble.

The rain comes down in droves all of a sudden, soaking her like a cold ocean wave, and she sprints across the parking lot to her car, her vision blurred by mist. She is blinded by pain and terror and all the awful things in the world. When she finally manages to get back into her car, dripping wet with rain, she leans forward on her wheel, her breath short from exhaustion and panic. She blinks water out of her eyes, hot and freezing at the same time. The clouds continue to weep above her. 

She’s never truly been in a storm like this, with her clothes drenched and weighing so heavily upon her, face dripping with rain and salty water. 

The sky has never felt so heavy above her as it does now. 

December 03, 2021 02:03

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Danie Holland
08:53 Dec 09, 2021

Such truly beautiful words describing and capturing the reality of grief. I loved the ending. It invokes such powerful imagery, "She's never truly been in a storm like this, with her clothes drenched and weighing so heavily upon her, face dripping with rain and salty water. The sky has never felt so heavy above her as it does now." I sensed the double meaning and it was beautiful put. I love it! Keep writing!


A. Potato
04:30 Dec 10, 2021

Thank you so much! Your words really made my day!


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