You are lying awake in bed, staring at the ceiling. It is half past seven on a Sunday evening but you don’t feel like doing anything. All you want to do is curl up into a ball and cry, but the tears don’t come. Your eyes are hot and itchy, but you tell yourself it’s hayfever and carry on staring at the ceiling, the cracks and the blu-tack pockmarks and the falling down posters which you know so well.
You keep thinking back to that time when you lay next to them, and they looked up at the same ceiling as you, and they made jokes about your decor, and you laughed. You can’t seem to shake it, how you felt lying next to them, the feel of skin against skin. You were both naked, but it didn’t seem to matter. You were unabashed and — you are pretty sure — happy.
It’s been a couple of hours and it feels like you have been punched in the sternum. A couple of hours since you heard one of the most devastating seven-word sentences in the English language. Well, there are worse ones: “I’m sorry, but she died last night”; “I’m sorry, you will never walk again”. But right now, this is the worst one:
“I think we should just be friends.”
It’s not heartbreak, you think. You have to be in love to have heartbreak. It has to be a boyfriend or girlfriend or wife or partner walking out on you for it to be heartbreak, the type where it feels like your insides have been put through a blender. And you weren’t actually going out with them, were you? Just dating them. Though it had been a couple of months, and you were kind of hoping that they’d look up and actually ask you to make it official, but instead the opposite had happened. That’s what you get for being optimistic, you think.
So, you wonder if you’re even entitled to feeling upset. Probably not, but you can’t feel guilty for having emotions. This must be something else if it’s not heartbreak. Heart-scraped knees. Heartbruise. You can forgive those Greek philosophers who used to think the heart was the seat of all emotions: it’s not your brain that hurts. It’s your chest. You can feel your pulse fluttering against your spine, and there’s a sense of a heavy weight crushing your lungs. You are sighing a lot. You put in your headphones and try to shut out the world for a few minutes, but every song seems to be about love or heartbreak and you give up and go back to lying perfectly still.
Time goes on, in that annoying way time does. Even when it feels like the world has ended, time will carry on in its usual no-nonsense linear fashion. You know you should eat but you feel too full.
“TOO FULL OF SADNESS”, you announce to your friends via text, playing up the melodramatic aspect because it’s easier if you make it funny, put on a mask, act like it’s not bothering you. And it shouldn’t, should it? It’s not your fault. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s just a thing that happened. They text back, full of “:(“s and “<3″s and “thinking of you”s, and you know they’re counting themselves lucky it’s not their budding relationships. It’s not their sweethearts changing their minds.
Like they actually want to be your friend. They were just being nice. They never want to see you again. They got sick of you. You can’t really blame them: you get sick of yourself sometimes.
Eventually you get up. You stare at the shower for a while, and then decide it’s not worth it. You start feeling irritated over little things, the amount of time and effort you put into preparing for your last date, and all the dates before that. You try and pinpoint the exact moment they decided against dating you: did they feel like this last week? Is the last kiss you have with them really going to be that awkward hurried peck in your car? That’s very disappointing. A small part of you feels like that’ll be the last kiss you’ll ever again, and that you should start crafting a FOREVER ALONE banner to put at the bottom of all your emails.
So what have you done since then? You debate sending them a sad text, and decide against it. You end up sitting in the kitchen in the dark with a glass of wine, because it’s not the brewing alcoholism your mother warns you against if you have one glass of wine when you’re feeling upset, is it?
You send the text and regret it immediately, but you sigh and shrug. It’s not like you have anything to lose any more, is it?
You wonder if emotions are liquids. When you stand up, all the hurt seems to pool in the same place in an acute ball of unhappiness. But it doesn’t seem so bad lying down, like everything’s spread out across your whole body.
You go back to bed and fall asleep with the light on because you don’t feel like turning it off.
It’s not a good night. Consciousness keeps creeping back, unbidden, even though you try and shut it down. You turn over and feel so, so tired, but not sleepy. After half past five, sleep doesn’t come again. You stare at the curtains and watch them lightening by degrees. The world outside is waking up. It’s a brand new day and the sun is shining so brightly you know it will hurt your eyes.
You probe your chest out of curiosity, the way you do when you have a new injury you’re trying to work out. This is the beginning, a dark red mark on your skin only you can see. You know it will go through a muted rainbow, blue and purple and green, and then an angry brown, and then yellow. And then one day you’ll feel for your yellow bruise and it’ll be gone. It will happen: it just takes time.
You get up.