• Mathura Hawley

limb


The shape of your heart changes to a square, the sharp edges cutting your insides each time you try to take a breath. "

When you love someone deeply enough to marry them, you walk out onto a long limb. The thrill of it is that you are scared but you know that when you get there, you are in for one of life’s greatest gifts, the surprise that love and commitment actually tether you with invisible gauze, and you may sway this way or that, but you are going to fall back on the person that understands you, loves all the things you are, and cannot imagine life without you in it. It is a rare thing when, instead, that person shoves you off the branch, and on the way down the truth flashes that they lied to get you to share your tree with them, and you mean nothing more than the bugs climbing the underside. There is no mourning. As you lie at the bottom you look up to see them, without pause, climbing, laughing and playing on the other branches, even stopping to be held in the arms of others. The shape of your heart changes to a square, the sharp edges cutting your insides each time you try to take a breath. You realize your soul is an organ, and as it grows colder and shrinks darker, light drains out the holes in the walls where the pictures of your children will never hang, never marked with crayons and hearts meant for your eyes only. After time, the tree is empty and the leaves have turned, and you finally stand up. But your legs are twisted, and you suddenly feel every ounce of their weight. The air is heavier and it is harder to see your path. You are now aware of the bad smells in the forest and realize this is the first time you have ever been afraid. You hear the wheeze of your own breath and your back aches. A sound startles you to the left and then to the right as you put your hands up in defense against nothing. As you walk forward, you wish you were anywhere else, but cannot think of anywhere you want to be. There is no reason to go forward or backward. There seems to be no reason at all. What you once knew as the truth is gone. You are an infant, without the knowing coax of a parent’s hand. You will make your way to the edge, where the new forest begins, but you will never trust that it is real. You will never be the same.


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