Contributor: Conrad Ridgestone

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I gaze at my hands. I only realize now that they are shaking. I further examine them and notice the fine lines of wrinkles gone unnoticed over the years sprawled across my hands. They are old. Veins are bulging, making them look worked and worn. I can’t stop the shaking even though I will myself to stop and I have a feeling of hunger deep in my belly but food is not its wanting but it wants. Wants him back. In my arms. In my heart. Alive! My eyes cloud over with tears and they fall down my cheeks. It’s like an inane ocean beating against a rocky shore. I think I’m all cried out but all of a sudden I feel overtaken by my grief and I hear myself start to sob. Weep. Whatever the fuck you call it. I’m choking on tears now. Literally crying out his name. I can’t even hear myself start to scream and I stutter. I feel the silence. I hear it. I taste it. It’s in the air. It’s in my heart. Unbidden sorrow is rocking me into the depths of nothingness. I eat to stay alive. I take my meds. I drink water but I haven’t turned on the television since....him. I start to analyze myself now, the anger is coming soon. Isn't that a step of grief. I want it to come. I want the guilt and the pain that is devouring me gone. It does not come. I sleep on his side of the bed that night. To smell him. I take my shirt off just to have something to cry into so that I don’t wash his scent away with my tears. I remember so many nights with him at my side. I was always the one who feared death. I never thought about the fear of me being in this world without him. I never allowed myself to believe it was possible. He may have been the older one but I was the weaker one. I swallow. Hard. The anxiety creeps in and I pop another Benzo and wish for my death and his resurrection. He deserved to live. I don’t understand it and in the pit of my gut I know its wrong like someone stole something from me and I’m aghast. I know its wrong. I know it. They’ll bring him back. I know it. I don’t know who they are but they have it all wrong. It’s me. I’m the one they want. Not him. He held me when I couldn't breathe when my mother died and I couldn't stop blubbering. Who is to hold me now?
By 4am I’m in a catatonic wake. I don’t know if it’s depression setting in or the Benzos trying to force it’s hand in my sleep cycle. Lips. A flash of lips in my mind. His. At the top of my spine. His way. The way he’d kiss me to tell me everything would be all right. I finally fall asleep and I don’t dream. I finally wake what has to be 10 hours later in the afternoon and a hopeful smile makes its way across my lips. Hope. The inevitable. It sinks back in. Grief like that...that real. It couldn't have been a dream. No nightmare on Elm Street could feel that heart wrenching. I don’t wanna get up. Not again.
A knock at the door slightly arouses me from my stupor. I sulk all the way down the stairs and open the door to a blank hallway. My stomach clenches as I step out and look both ways as if I am crossing a road. The corridor is as vacated as my heart feels. I want to run. Run and never look back. And I do.Fast. Away. I stop. The sadness has followed.

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Conrad Ridgestone lives in Lebanon, Kansas
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