Sitting straight-backed on the couch, it felt like his words were washing past her head and out the cracked window, missing her ears entirely. The popped rib on her right side throbbed dully, and it seemed like her brain was pounding along with it.
At some point, the wind of his words slowed and then stopped. She blinked three or four times, her eyes adjusting as though she’d been in a dark room for hours. The mixed up pieces of his face wobbled into place, two dark eyes settling above a thin nose, full lips pressed into thin ones.
“Oh,” she breathed. “Oh.”
He sighed and pushed back in his chair, standing and running his hands through his thick hair. He seemed a thousand feet tall—looking up at him gave her vertigo.
“I just can’t do it,” he said. “I need a break.” His eyes locked on hers, and for a moment she steadied.
“I know. I get it. Okay. Yeah.” It felt like the words were tumbling from her lips haphazardly, bloated and ineloquent. She pressed them closed to stop the cascade.
For a moment they were just held up by their mutual gaze, until the thin breeze from the window knocked it away. He stalked to the door, slung his messenger bag over his head, and blew out the door. The gust from his exit pressed her body over, settling on her side, deep in the cushions of the couch.
It took a few minutes for thoughts to drift back into her brain. It was as though she’d been stripped of her innards, plucked of her feelings—left just a body as a vessel for the chill autumn air.
The first few thoughts that ventured back were small and airy.
“That just happened,” one breathily stated.
“Here you are,” another helpfully sighed.
But slowly these thoughts filled with thick, dark fluid; became heavy pustules that leaked: “You’re all alone now,” “He’s gone, and it’s your fault,” “You have nothing.”
She closed her eyes as her head got heavy with the weight of these thoughts. They began to flow into the rest of her body, filling her chest with black tar, weighing her limbs with concrete. She felt herself sinking steadily into the couch, almost heavy enough to sink her to the apartment floor, to the foundation of the building, down to the subway tunnel, and finally all the way to hell itself.