five stages later and it still hurts

So there we were, sitting awkwardly in silence as you stared at me, willing me to tell you something that you knew would never be true. There we were, and you knew that I was drowning and all I could do was beg you not to dive in after me.

I knew you were thinking about how I used to smile, how I used to laugh and joke and you were wondering—

“Was any of it real?”

The pain in your voice was bad, but the fear was worse, and the thought that I had caused it made me want to throw myself off the roof (and God knows how I can’t stand heights).

So there I was hesitating, trying to remember how to make those perfect little stories that always fixed everything, but I think my brain was malfunctioning because when you asked me if my smiles had ever been real all I could say was

“They were real for you.”

And there we were crying, and your fingers were tracing those tell-tale little scars on my arm, small enough to be cat scratches and yet big enough to pull your world out from under you and you begged me to stop, to get help before I did some irreversible damage. And I promised you I’d listen.

“You need to keep breathing for me,” you whispered, your voice thick. “What would I ever do without you?”

So here I am struggling not to laugh at the irony (because what kind of person laughs at their best friend’s funeral anyway?) but I still can’t believe that this actually happened and I’m just sitting here waiting for the whole fucking universe to yell ‘April fools” because it’s obviously their idea of a sick joke but they have to take it back, please, they have to take it back now, now, now…

And here I am in agony because no one’s taking anything back and maybe it’s not a joke after all and I’m the one who wanted to disappear, not you, and you asked what you would do without me but I know you would have been fine and you’d punch me if you could because here I am wishing that I had used one of those suicide notes when I still had the chance. You would have hurt for a while but you’d still be here, able to hurt, and that’s all I want, but instead you’re gone and I’m here, bound by a promise that I can no longer break because your last wish was for me to live and you know I’d do anything for you.

And every time I take a breath it hurts because I’m breathing your air and it’s wrong, but there’s nothing else I can do because you’re the only thing keeping me here and I promised. I promised.

So here I am breathing.

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