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Without You

by Kelly Peppe 6 months ago in Short Story
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Your side of the bed, where there was once an indent in the shape of you, is now like new.

Illustration by author

I’ve woken up in this other world where you no longer exist. A great injustice to me and everyone who has ever had the chance to know you. Your voice still rings loudly in my ears, but your bedside table is now vacant, as if it had never been touched by you. Your side of the bed, where there was once an indent in the shape of you, is now like new. They say I made you up, that you were never here. Only in my head, but I still smell you everywhere. And I mourn you, a ghost that never existed to die.

Your bedside table is now filled with pill bottles to help with my delusions. But every memory of you is ingrained into my mind like an etch a sketcher. Everyone is worried for me, but I am worried for you. I wonder where you are and I cry thinking about if I disappeared from your world, as well. Are we lying here across from each other in bed wondering if the other had ever existed at all? Wondering who is delusional, us or the world? Did they put you on as many medications as they did me? Or were you willing to believe that I never existed. Are you living your life without me? Or are you not living at all?

I mostly stay home now. That's what happens when you lose your mind. No one trusts you to live anymore. My mother sleeps on the sofa most nights, ever since that first day. The day I woke up and found you missing from my life; completely deleted.

I saw you once in a reflection just behind me, just as I was beginning to believe that you really never existed. When I saw you, I knew my mind was not capable of conjuring up such a uniquely beautiful individual. Your features were crisp like everything else around me. Your eyes sad and bewildered. Your nose, twice broken. Your lips slightly agape. We shared a moment of silent conversation, eyes locked and words unnecessary. Just as I turned to embrace you, you were gone. Our bedroom was still and there was ringing in my ears as I cried and fell to the ground.

There were two tooth brushes in the bathroom this morning. It was green and I knew it was yours, I had bought it for you. Such a small, insignificant object made me feel all the more validated. I held it in my hand hoping that if I held it tight enough, it would take me to where ever it came from. I go to sleep every night hoping to wake up in the world I remember. Even if it wasn’t the real one, I'd be ok with that. As long as I couldn’t tell the difference. I'd be ok living out the rest of my days inside of my head, as long as you existed there.

When you disappeared, the only evidence left of us was the locket I wear around my neck. It was given to me by you on our third anniversary, inside it says “I love you, always". I am afraid to take it off. Afraid that if I put it down, it will slip out of existence as well. So, I cling to it constantly. Enough for others to notice. One nurse had to pry my finger from around it just to administer my IV that first day. They were sure I was on drugs and I don't blame them. How does one become so crazy in an instant? No one is sure where the necklace came from. My mother listens as I cry about you. I can tell she is always unsure how to console me. How do you console someone who is mourning a delusion?

One of the side effects of my medication is hallucinations. Occasionally I take extra in hopes that maybe I'll see you, even for a moment; even if it wasn’t real.

I lay here in our bed now starring up at the ceiling where there used to be a fan, wondering what happened to us. Sometimes when I roll over, I catch a glimpse of it. I think about when you installed it last august. It was a hot and sticky summer in New Orleans. As a software engineer, you were always much more tech savvy then handy. You were angry all day putting it up, dripping in sweat from the humidity. If I close my eyes, I can imagine the breeze that came from it when you finally got it working.

I wonder maybe if our universes are rubbing close enough together that they sometimes overlap, or perhaps my brain is firing off neurons like crazy. Or if I were in some sort of artificial simulation and I was self-aware, there would perhaps be some glitches. I’ve seen enough movies to know that. Movies I’ve seen with you.

My isolated contemplation is disrupted by my mother who has made herself at home here. She comes in to watch me take my medication: Sometimes I forget. A blue pill to sleep, something I do little of. A red pill to fix the chemicals in my brain. And my vitamins, because I rarely get outside anymore.

I never struggled with my mental health when I was with you. Something I should have appreciated more. Now all I do is fester in a constant psychotic state. I was always the laid-back type. Sure, some days were better than others, but I never questioned my sanity.

I often think of the last day I spent with you. We argued. It was a rare occasion that was usually resolved the next day or sooner. There isn't anything I wouldn’t be willing to do just to argue with you again. Just to tell you I’m sorry for whatever it was we were fighting about, even if you had started it.

The blue pill does just what it is supposed to do and suddenly I can’t remember what it was I was thinking about. Instead, my eyes shut and moments later open, they open to you. There you are, lying next to me. I can't decipher whether or not it is a dream, but there you are sleeping soundly. I’d reach out to touch you, but I’m afraid my hand would reach right through you.

I had forgotten how you snore. It had always kept me from getting decent night sleep. I'd give up sleep entirely just to lay here and listen to you. Even if I died from exhaustion, I would die happy. Your eyes open and I wonder if you can see me.

“Where did you go?” I ask you. You open your eyes and look at me sadly.

“I’ve been here the whole time.” You respond. “You’re sick babe. You’re just not yourself. I’m here, I’ve always been here.” I wonder if it’s the medications, if I was finally hallucinating you.

“I’m sick?” I ask.

“You got sick after your mom passed.” You say, solemnly. I shake my head.

“No. My mom was just here.” I state, confused. “She just brought me my medications.” My mom couldn’t be dead, she was just here.

“That was me Kaity, it has always been me.” You state, your voice cracking. “Just me, Kaity.”

Short Story

About the author

Kelly Peppe

Writer and illustrator from New York.

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