When was it…? When did it all start to go south? My mind replays the first hysteric episode I had in our bedroom, arms clasped around my knees like a weeping child. The air was sickly sweet with artificial peonies — remnants of Your perfume. A low, constant whirring from the air-conditioning unit reverberated across the room, through piles of clothes strewn across the floor, bed, and table. You had left traces behind, as You always did. The mosaic of swollen reds and purples sullying my arms served as a perpetual reminder of this.

I felt so small and naive, wondering where You had gone and why You had left me alone. The image of me forced into that pitiful state… It terrified me. And against all rational thought, I wanted nothing more than to crawl back into Your arms, to return to a house filled with the comfort of Your screaming, and warmth in the form of flesh and blood.

I couldn’t hate You even then.

“No one else could love you like I do.” The words left your lips as a sacred promise.

You were right. And it didn’t matter. I would have stayed regardless if it meant I could be with you.

The years descended on us like clouds, drifting by in a simple, sure frequency. I loved You throughout.

And You loved me back in the only way you knew how; like a God loves his creations. 

Merciful. Omnipresent. Eternal.

I swallowed this truth with every cruel word and disapproving look — boring its way into my head like a relentless bug. I let it happen because it felt right, only until it didn’t. 

I had learnt grace from You. I was wholly covered in the stupid thing. I could only ever see You as infallible, even while I witnessed You morph into an unrecognisable being before me. 

Two months ago, the fire in You had extinguished, leaving You completely bare. I pretended not to notice when You started skipping lectures, or when You’d sleep in all day buried in green bottles, unable to give me so much as a grunt. I was afraid that I’d say the wrong thing. I was afraid the flames would come back and engulf me. Then I’d beg You for forgiveness and You’d smile at me like how owner coos at well-trained dog. 

Eventually, I started to pray to someone other than You. I begged for a way out — ideas of escape murmuring in my head. I couldn’t do it myself. I couldn’t even bring myself to say anything. Not with You like this, empty and wasted in Your bed. I had to check Your pulse whenever I came back for the night, just to make sure. 

Just to make sure. 

I wasn’t prepared for my prayers to be answered so soon. I wasn’t ready for You to leave me, despite all my desperate pleas. Not in that evening when I was frozen; still in time, faced with the macabre scene in front of me. You were on Your belly in a swollen creek, face down to its stiffening, murky depths. Arms and legs relaxed like You were finally at peace.

…Was I the reason?

My mouth went dry. A grating bolus rose up my throat. I was useless, my arms limp like rags at my sides, feet glued to the muddy bank. A mossy stench hung thick in the air as beads of water started to rain over You and my tear-stained face. A gust of wind rustled the cattails that encased You in this hellhole; a ghostly whisper.

With trembling hands, I fished my phone out of my pocket and sloppily jabbed in 9-9-9. When the dispatcher’s voice came through, muffled and distant, I choked out what happened. The dispatcher’s voice turned urgent as he instructed me on what to do until help arrived. 

My mind was clouded but I forced myself forward, the squelch of mud beneath my shoes as I reached the water’s edge. Hauling myself through the thick mixture of moss and water, I finally reached You. I reached out a wet hand, fingers barely grazing Your cold skin, but enough to make me recoil as if burned. 

Memories flooded my mind, each one a stab to the heart. The arguments, the misunderstandings, the moments I could have been there for You but wasn’t. Guilt twisted in my gut like a knife, sharp and relentless; a jolt of reality piercing through the haze of shock.

The wail of sirens pierced through the air and I watched as emergency responders scrambled down the uneven bank and lifted Your lifeless form onto a stretcher. 

In the days that followed, my mind kept replaying that image of You lying in that creek. I sat by Your hospital bed, it was all over now and You were here. With me. My mind drifted to sleep for the first time in weeks, with your hand in mine.

It was barely morning when You jolted out of bed and cried for the nurse. Your painful, desperate cries. It was raining, and the sky was painted a damp grey. The air was sticky and suffocating like I was being drowned. 

I was drowning. In shame. Anger. Guilt. 

I pictured my own eyes and figure in Your place sometimes. Tubes coiled around my neck daring me to give up; to let You go.

It was afternoon. The rain had stopped and the sun was slowly peeking from behind the overcast. You stared down at your boiled broccoli and mush; devoid of emotion, not even disgust. Stared and stared and stared. That’s all You ever did. Your parents called. Again. Begging me to fix You, blamed me for breaking You in the first place. It wasn’t fair. I didn’t ask for this burden, this weight on my shoulders. But still, I carried it, because it was You, and I loved You despite everything.

Beep… Beep… Beep…

The only thing breaking this deafening silence in this sickly prison. And a constant reminder of Your fragile state.

Stacks of books, tattered and torn, sat by Your bed. I hoped Austen or Kafka would bring You back to life. So we could have a conversation, to hear Your voice one last time. I read to You daily, hoping that some spark of recognition would flicker in your soulless eyes, that You would reach out and grasp my hand; that we could share a moment of connection amidst the darkness that has consumed You.

Each day passed much like the last, with no change, no sign of improvement. I sat there with You, inhaling an amalgamation of antiseptic cleanliness and illness as the Venetian wallpaper caged us in lime neutrality. I couldn’t bear to look at You anymore. Questions swirled in my mind, accusations of negligence and regret. I felt impotent; helpless to save You from whatever demons had taken hold of Your mind. 

Until that day.

The sun was oddly bright that morning, casting its golden rays across the azure expanse. Boisterous cheers could be heard from the other rooms as they welcomed a birth; another life. You hadn’t touched your gooey mango pudding at all. Instead, you stared straight at me. It was the first time we made eye contact in months. I approached you slowly and held Your hand, pasty skin against mine. You lightly squeezed my hand and hope blossomed in me. But it was soon suppressed by fear; fear of returning to square one, fear of life in that horrid prison you call home.

Suddenly, your eyes rolled back as I lost the weight of Your hand in mine. The machine blared as nurses swarmed and whisked around You with more tubes and drugs. They rushed You off to the emergency room while a woman explained the critical condition You were in. All I could do was whisper a prayer into the desolate corridors, a desperate plea for forgiveness, for salvation — things I wasn’t sure I deserved. I couldn’t be absolved from any guilt. My sin was getting caught up in the idea of You; the version of You that I fabricated, gone too soon.

The doctor came back to unpray my hands, spilling out words I couldn’t recognise in an otherwise silent hallway. Your name repeated in my head; each syllable like a dagger to my chest, ripping apart the fragile thread that had tethered me to any semblance of stability I had left. I found myself trapped in a state of numbness, unable to fully comprehend the magnitude of Your absence. How could I? You were all I’ve ever known.

You were gone for good, and I was left behind for the very last time, grappling with the weight of my emotions. The world around me blurred into a haze of confusion. I felt myself dissociating throughout the day, forced to go through the motions of life — forced to haul myself onto the train and back to our apartment while holding back tears in front of the other passengers. It was all too much. My reflexes took control and I observed myself from a distance, almost as if I was a ghost. I let myself run on autopilot. I let myself miss You.

A part of me felt lost without You… But You made Your choice, and the choice wasn’t me. 


The city was littered in hues of mahogany, a sign of autumn pervading the sullen streets. I passed by the hospital where you took your final breath and watched as the dead leaves continued to fall. Red enfolded my surroundings; only this time, I wasn’t afraid. For a moment, I let the scene cauterise the pain within me, leaving me with only a dull ache.

With each passing day, the sharp edges of my anguish began to soften, gradually giving way to a sense of liberation. It was the little things that made me realise I was able to live without you. After moving out of our unit, I started to find joy in the simple moments of everyday life — in waking up alive, meeting old friends and cooking meals for one. I no longer flinched at the mention of my own name, and the sharp frigidity of your body from that ill-fated evening felt faint on my skin, almost as if it had never happened. 

In a way, I was reclaiming my sense of self and forging a path forward on my own; marking the precipice of a new beginning. I was terrified of the idea at first, but my fear was no longer your hostage. I was no longer shackled by my memories of you. My life could finally be my own.

Your death had saved us. 

I was free.

Written by: Zara & Kyra

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