August 7, 2016
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I enter the water maintaining my walking pace. I make my feet move forward as I begin to struggle, forcing myself into the unscrupulous ocean. Every muscle screams against this, nearly forcing me to jump back with each wave. The wind, brisk, painful, slaps the water around me. Waist deep, a wave pushes against my stomach hard enough to sting. Instincts cause me to recoil. I feel pathetic. Pathetic as Mike had been when he had been shipped home. His legs crippled, his face mutilated, his body utterly destroyed. He had never even opened up his eyes to look at me before he s*** himself and died. His stable condition bottomed out nearly as soon as he had gotten to the new hospital. He wouldn't have wanted to see me anyway, by the time he had gotten there, I hadn't showered for days and I was wearing pajamas with vomit on them. My weak stomach never held up when I needed to be there. When I should have been there for him, I threw up seeing reality. I constantly recall what I had heard a nurse say in the hallway.
"He might have opened his eyes, just for a moment there. I swear, were his eyes real dark color?"
Yes, I reply, of course his eyes are dark. I feel my lips crack, salt water ripping into their chap. I hadn't heard myself though, so I'm not sure I said anything.
No one ever mentioned his eyes opening again. I might have imagined it anyway, as I was definitely insane after Mike's heart stopped pumping.
I imagine his eyes now, brown and dark enough that I could hardly ever see his pupils. They could probably be better described as black, but "black eyes" doesn't really feel agreeable. I know I liked them but I'm losing grip on the reasons why. Finally, my head goes under. The chill of the waves has numbed considerably and I'm almost comfortable.
I remember Mike's real name, Micah. An angel. Well, that didn't do anything for him or for me. He hated the name too, thought it was girly. Especially considering how incredibly empty I feel. Every moment I am plagued with beautiful memories, a soft kiss on the forehead, a night in love; every other moment I am plagued with him leaving, with imagining him being blown up, with his broken body being returned to me. Asking me to do what I could, as if I could do anything for him. I sob and salt water fills my mouth, burning my throat. I spit and gag, feeling the sting of the salt in my eyes and mouth. I wonder why my eyes haven't yet adjusted to salt.
I begin to tread water, continuing away from shore.
Every moment, I am completely emptied with longing. Longing and wishing, that I had never met him, never loved him, that he never loved Captain America or me, that he never felt pride in what he was deciding to do, that I had told him to stop or that it was too dangerous, that he hadn't been there, that he hadn't died or that I had first, at least. I want to completely erase myself from existence. So, I keep swimming.
Weirdly enough, I get a little bit afraid. I remember how when I was a kid, I'd always open my eyes in the swimming pool to make sure there weren't sharks. I never liked the feeling of not touching the ground either. Heights (especially the drop towers at amusement parks), drop offs, sharks, all horror movies-even bad ones, were all pretty lame things to be afraid of. Was Mike afraid of bombs, like I am of sharks? I feel like he wasn't, not because he didn't have fears or anything ridiculous, but because I feel like he'd think he was invincible. He jumped at horror movies as much as I did, but it couldn't possibly be the same type of emotion. I wonder if he saw it coming.
I remember his dog tags under my pillow. I usually wrap them around my fist when I’m sleeping. It hurts but I seemed to revel in discomfort lately.
I rub my hand where they usually leave digs in my skin. Those couldn't have been the ones he wore, I realize with a start. I had assumed they were but the ones he wore must've been damaged. The tags didn't seem to be brand new however. I honestly don't know whether he would have more than one pair. I imagine sighing and then I do it. Then, I fill my stomach with air and spread out my arms. I still have to kick to keep myself afloat and my legs burn. I haven't exercised in a while and I probably should have. I almost enjoy working out and I almost always enjoy boxing. But, I guess crushing depression will do that to a person.
Loss of interests. Generally losing what made me a real live person.
I think about myself a lot for someone so empty. I watch myself like I'm a bag-eyed Narcissus. I ought to have covered the mirrors in the house. Then at least I might not be so vain.
I'm taunting myself again, which has always been a strange feeling. Like two minds in one body or maybe a brain and a soul struggling to connect.
Which is probably related to my disassociation. Feeling like I'm watching myself.
It's a pretty interesting sensation. Like I'm a both ghost and god. Of course, I'm neither.
I'm certainly in my body now. I can see the stars clearly. I relax and meld with the ocean, trying to leave my body behind. I let myself sink, the pressure beginning to hurt my ears. I'm not thinking of Joey, I'm not thinking of myself. It's finally quiet, not a digging empty but an all-encompassing one. I push myself back to the surface, having not been able to leave my body after all. Human, first and foremost. I don't stop myself nor do I feel as if I am actually pulling forward. I feel like I could be moving through space, but it's probably not so hard to keep kicking there.
When I reach the shore, I vomit on my feet. I see Mike behind my eyelids, smiling as he stood in front of the treadmill I was on. He knew treadmills made me feel sick but I think he knew why I'd still run on them.
I walk back a little and kick my feet in the water. I laugh a little. I sit in the water, wiggling around to create a dent in the sand. I'm exhausted and almost content. Mike picks at the edges of my conscious but it’s okay. I imagine this feeling as green and orange, his favorite colors, which I had previously called 'god awful,' when he had suggested these colors for our living room. Being sentimental now, I imagine a note he had written to me in green pen and the fabric of his cremesicle striped shirt, the way that shirt made him look a little bit ridiculous but beautiful still.
I stand up, wringing myself out as best I can. I leave the water, following the light poles back to our house. Returning to our bedroom, I find his dog tags under my pillow, as I left them. I take off my engagement ring and put it on the chain. I lay down and curl into the chain. I think I pray to him, but I'm not sure if it's a prayer or just a thought aimed into oblivion. I sit up slightly and put on the dog tags and I go to sleep, sandy and thoughtless. 

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