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Somewhere far off I could feel her hand, running softly through my hair and over my numb scalp. It seemed to be the one thing tethering me to the Earth. I wished she would stop. I wanted her to let me float off and escape from this dark, lonely place, but I was too distant, too stripped of caring, to bat her hand away as I so desperately wanted to.

"Simon," she whispered.

Her voice was like a seatbelt, snapping me forcefully back into my body. It seemed like I should be bleeding and bruised, but my skin was smooth and unmarked. It seemed like the room should be spinning around me, but it stood firmly in place. It seemed as if things should be falling apart, collapsing and exploding around me from the pain the room was charged with.

I wanted to destroy things and make them congruent with how I was feeling. I wanted to scream at Stacey for bringing me back, completely and fully, to my grief with her one uttered 'Simon.' I wanted to collapse onto the floor and sob. I wanted to down a bottle of pills and follow Erika, wherever it is that she went.

Instead, I just sat there on the couch next to Stacey, staring at the walls and trying to will myself back into the place in between the windshield and the harsh jerk back into the passenger seat. I was too empty and too scared to do anything else, and that was the hardest thing to bear of all.

It wasn't until Stacey reached up and wiped a hot tear from my equally burning cheek that I realized I had been crying and until she met my eyes that I realized that she was talking to me.

"Its going to be alright." The words were, to me, like scraps of blank paper, thrown carelessly into the air. I could no more believe them than I could bring back Erika.

Stacey stood up and grabbed my limp hands, dislocating me harshly from my seat.

"Come," she said. And I knew that I would follow her anywhere, her words echoing flatly and tirelessly in my head: It's going to be alright. When you removed all of her implications from them, the words began to take on meaning.





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