I have what’s left of you. An old journal, a forgotten, much-loved doll and some broken teacups collect dust under the open, empty sky. When it storms, thunder cracks the china, wrinkles the pages, wets the cheeks of the sad-faced doll. Lightning illuminates the wreckage. Ruins, ruins; all are ruins, these days—ruins, and I’m sitting here patiently. Have you never felt that there couldn’t possibly be a soul in this skin, just memories, relics, a poorly-written summary of days past? You’d say: I want to remember this. And I’d laugh. In our photos, I am always laughing.

I didn’t mean to start off like this. But, darling—I have what’s left of you. They gave me your things, once they found you. As if I’d want the reminders. Still, I couldn’t throw them out. They sit, old photos on new cameras, old teeth in this new, biting pain, and when I die they’ll collect my memories as well and give them to my children along with yours and the trauma will pass from generation to generation and—no. That’s not right.

They’ll forget your face in a matter of years. My trauma is mine alone.

And sometimes, sometimes, it is bubbles on the water; sometimes, sometimes, it is the lullaby at bedtime. Sometimes, sometimes, it is your nose against my cheek, your hair beneath my fingers, your soft and my tender, our gentle and our love; but sometimes—well. Sometimes.

Loss sits easily on my shoulders today, threads its spiny, shadowy fingers through my tangled hair, speaks comfortably in my unwilling ears, lodges itself in my broken throat. Forgive me if the words do not slip from my aching mouth: I have what’s left of you, and it is driving me wild, wilder even than the wind that creaks the attic walls and plays hide-and-seek with my wandering, wondering, woebegone nightmares. Violins fly glorious with their melancholy bows in the airspace of my tender heart, but even they are quiet with my ear to the wind, restless, relentless as it is.

Last Sunday, I went to the balcony at midnight. I looked down and saw tiny, indifferent people. The breeze passed through my hair, and caressed my scalp. I wanted to jump out of curiosity. I didn’t, of course—remember what happened when I put my hands in the fire? Out of curiosity? And you said: Destroy everything else, when you want to destroy yourself.

So I did. Oh, my dear. I did.

Do you remember when we met? You had a memory for those sort of things. Me, I never lingered long on the particulars—our entire relationship remains in my memory as scattered snapshots, focused not on what really mattered but on peripheral thoughts. The sky, overcast and cloudy with the taste of rain on my skin, the first time you took my hand. My shoulder fitting into the hollow of your arm, and the scent of lavender as I closed my eyes. Chess. Blushing. Both of us in the backseat of cars, driving in opposite directions deep into the night, and your voice the umbilical cord between me and remaining alive. Your voice, during the panic attacks: that’s what’s left of you, dear, and it is mine for the twilight, mine for the dusk, mine for the never-ending night of you being gone. Just answer me this: where are you now, and how did I not hear you leave?