The sobs came out between ragged breaths and they weren’t in the least bit satisfying or relieving. She wanted to scream until her voice was gone. This thing inside her was bigger, so much bigger, than one could adequately express on a balcony in the middle of the city without summoning the attention of god knows how many people and possibly the police. Her body trembled with a sort of electricity that almost hurt, like something was straining to break through the surface. It was too much, all too much.

Her breath formed little clouds against the sky and she watched them dissipate into the night air. The rain had made the streets below glisten in the lights from the cars and the shops. The railing was slick with water and she gripped it with her hands, and on impulse, imagined hoisting her body over the side and just…

She didn’t finish that thought. Her stomach lurched and another angry sob escaped, and she turned round and kicked the wall. Back and forth from one end of the balcony to the other… she walked with an urgency, as if headed somewhere on an important mission, but with the futility of a caged animal who had nowhere to go. God, she wished she could still drink.

She’d spent the previous evening reading about the five stages of grief. Number two (anger) and number three (bargaining) seemed to resonate. Mental lists of everything she’d lost repeated themselves in her head, over and over, and every time she settled on one for a few seconds, she was engulfed by a wave of fresh bitterness and rage that would sweep her under and drag her down.

Oh my god it hurts. It hurts it hurts it hurts. Please make it stop. Please.

A shadow appeared behind the living room window and she realised her mother was standing there. Fucking Christ. The last thing she wanted to do was explain. She didn’t understand why people wanted to talk all the time. Talking accomplished nothing, particularly talking with people who reacted with frustration and were too stupid to understand anyway.

You can’t fix it, mother. You never could. That was always your problem; you tried too hard and you were afraid of anything that couldn’t have a happy ending. A socially-acceptable one. And you passed your fear on to me, albeit in a different form, when I’m the sort of person who so desperately needs to find a way to withstand the type of pain that you can’t even fathom. Did you think you were saving me?

She turned away from the window and walked to the end of the balcony, out of sight, and drew another shaky breath. The tears on her cheek were warm, and they mingled with the soft, cool raindrops that had been falling all evening.

Something that had long been dormant had slowly been surfacing lately. It felt different and she didn’t know why, but she knew it did.

Fight or flight. Flight hadn’t worked thus far… flight ruined everything. That left one option.

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