r e a l

February 2, 2017

she is sprawled across my bed,
her skirt blue like the sheets she lay on
i sit on the floor and watch as she stares up at the ceiling,
a question in her eyes.
what are you thinking about? i ask
do you like riddles? she replies before i can finish my sentence
her voice soft like fireflies.
yes, i guess, i say back
my voice is tentative like baby steps.
well, i have a riddle for you.
what is it?
how can you get shot without a gun?
we sit in silence for a couple minutes
both thinking
i don’t know, i whisper eventually.
and like that, she winks and walks away,
her shoes pattering on the wood of my bedroom floor

like lion paws

soon, she comes up to me every day—
the same question.
how can you get shot without a gun?
i don't know. i don't know i don't know.
and i don't.
i do.
i know when i walk into our bathroom
and see her body splattered across our tile floor like wet paint,
a bottle of pills beside her,
an advil bottle, half empty, by her fingertips.
i know when i try to scream but i can't
i know when i feel all the air rush from my lungs, when i stumble down the steps to the phone
i know when i shakily dial 911
i know when i scream into the phone
i know when i whisper it's not real it's not real it's not real 100 times over, hoping it gets truer the more i say it
i know when finally sit down beside her in the ambulance
i know when i touch her hand and it is icy and has lost all the warmth, when i look at her wrist, stick thin, when i trace the veins with a shaky finger, when her wrist is freezing to the touch but i refuse to let go because it can't be real it can't be real and i know when the doctor comes to me, her face grim like an oncoming storm and i get ready
i know when finally the tears stream down my face like currents, and i watch everything before my eyes blur and i yell i keep wailing until my head is pounding get it to stop get it to stop tell me it's not real it can't be real please don't be real
so how can you get shot without a gun?
you can get shot like this
you can get shot when you feel your heart get pierced by a bullet that isn't real, when you feel the blood rush out of your body even though you have no wounds, when you suffocate even though you're breathing fine ,when you get murdered even though
there is no gun.
it's not real, i whisper
it's not real it's not real it's not real it's

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