CN: Mentions of death, suicidal ideation,
Think of someone you once knew.
A co-worker. A friend. A family member. Someone you loved. Someone you knew intimately.
Remember the details. The colour of their hair. The tilt of their head as they turned to smile at you. The sparkles of laughter in their eyes.
Close your eyes, and feel their arms around you. The arms of someone who cared. Who held you in your darkest hours. Who protected you, catching you even before you knew you were falling.
Remember how much you loved them. Try to remember the spark of hope you felt when you were with them. Feel within you how loved they made you feel.
And then bring yourself back to reality.
Return to the sad, grim, fact, that they are gone from your life. And no-one can tell you why. Because years ago, they vanished into thin air. Never to be seen again. And there are no answers to be found.
They are just… Gone. And no-one knows why, and no-one can say where. And no-one is looking. The trail has gone cold, and there are no clues left.
Again, bring your heart to remember the feeling that they brought to you. Focus on it. Own it. Hold on to that feeling.
This will be important. Because it is the only way that you will be able to see them long enough to find the answers.
Hold it. Feel it. Feel the gentle love wrapping itself around you. Keep it until you know that they are there.
And then go for a walk on a busy street.
Hold that feeling. And notice how long it is before you think you see that person out of the corner of your eye. Hold on to that hope. Because today they may come back to you. And wait for that glimpse of them in their favourite clothes just out of your line of sight.
And now look closely. And feel the crushing despair that as you turn your body around to see the person you lost, realise that it isn’t them. That they are still missing. And look closely at the person you thought might be your loved one. The clothes is the same. The walk is the same. But the face… It isn’t them. Not even close.
Feel within you the los of loosing your loved one again. Knowing that there is still no answer. And no clues as to what happened, and why they aren’t there.
And then return to reality, holding that fresh loss in your arms, close to your heart. And keep an open mind.
Because I know exactly where they are. And I can give you the answers, if you are willing to hear. If you are willing to SEE.
Put aside your disbelief. And know the truth.
Let me tell you what has happened to your loved one.
They are right here.
*I* am right here.
I just can’t be seen through the lenses of every day reality any more.
Because I am invisible.
I have carried in me a pain that you cannot imagine. And I have born a burden that wasn’t mine to bear. I have fought your battles at your side, revelling in your victory.
And I hid from you the grim reality.
The pain I felt grew like a tumour inside of me, eating away at my flesh from the inside out.
The weight of the burdens I carried for you, for me, for others, so long a part of me, have reduced my bones to dust. Crunched me down into the ground.
The wounds I suffered fighting at your side were hidden from you. For I did not want you to suffer in your victories, knowing that I had come to harm from it. And I never told you the truth when you asked why I always wore the armour from that battle.
I never could tell you that the illusion of that armour was the only thing keeping me alive, and in one piece.
I don’t know how to describe just what happened.
One day, I was there, at your side. And then I started slipping. I fell. And I kept quiet. I could not face the shame of failure. So I hid my face, and waited until I could heal.
And you kept walking, so certain that I was there at your side, never bothering to turn to make sure I was still there. Because I had always been there. And you know I would always be there.
Except that I wasn’t. And you didn’t notice.
Alone on the road behind you, hiding in shame, I watched you walk away, and cried that you were so certain of me that you never once looked back to make sure I was still there. I cried knowing the pain it would cause when you found me gone. And I cried, wondering how long it would be before you actually turned to me, and noticed I wasn’t there, seemingly without a trace. And back there in the ditch, as I sat alone and let the tears run down my face, I let my wounds consume me.
And I died.
But you did not see me. My body was not found. And bit by bit, reality took its toll. The tumours inside ate through me, replacing my insides with emptiness. The hidden wounds beneath my armour kept flowing crimson tears of their own. The weight over me ground my bones to dust.
But I could not let go of this earthly existence, too scared of what lay beyond to take that final step. Knowing that to give in would mean failure, and worse… would disappoint you. So I held on to life, hoping against hope that I could survive, knowing I was already dead. Praying that I could find the way to make you proud.
I held on. And time went on. And still I was not found, as my body lay there, decaying on the side of the streets behind you. I held on, waiting for the day when I had the strength to pick myself up and come and find you again, so that I could walk at your side.
It took years. And the price was greater than I’d ever anticipated. But in time, I was able to do it. To pick up what was left of me, and to come and find you, to stand at your side again. But I was too late.
Years have passed. You grew accustomed to my absence. You ceased to question it. You stopped expecting to find me there at your side when you turned around. You stopped believing in me. Because in your eyes, I had left you. And you didn’t even know when, or why. And you can’t forget that betrayal, and you cannot see past it.
What was left of me made it back to you. But it wasn’t enough. The wounds, the tumours, the weight over me, the weather, time, and nature itself took their toll on my body, decomposing it from the inside out. And as I lifted myself, and my armour off the ground, I saw this. I saw when I looked in the window-shops, and nearby mirrors, that there was nothing left to me. My insides were empty. My face was gone. Not even any fingertips left for a forensic analyst to be able to identify my body with. Just dust, dirt, and compost is what was left behind. And my armour. The armour that was a part of me. The armour that has become me.
I carry it around, from house to house, town to town, looking for you, trying to recapture my place at your side.
But you have given up. Someone else now stands in the place that once was mine. And you have moved on, accepting that you will never know what happened to me.
And still, I try.
There isn’t much left to me now. I am just a empty, faceless shell of the girl I used to be. Just a piece of armour, leftover from the days I fought at your side, protecting you with my love.
I sense it in you at times. The desire to see me. The desire to know what happened. And that glimmer of hope in you gives me strength to find a nearby person, of similar shape and size, melding my armour over their body.
And for a moment, sometimes, you see me there, my armour grafted over someone else’s skin, out of the corner of your eye.
But you don’t believe what your heart tells you. You choose to believe the truth that is there before your eyes. That person you just saw, they aren’t me. They aren’t vibrant, joyful, ferocious, fierce fighters at your side. They are strangers. They aren’t the strong girl that you knew me as. Your mind is safe in that knowledge. They aren’t me.
But you won’t see the truth. I have seen it countless times, in mirrors and shop windows. The girl I once was is gone. All that is left is this empty, faceless suit of armour, broken, filled with jagged pieces, held together by an invisible hand, covering up invisible tears.
I wish that I could tell you.
I wish that I could make you believe me.
I died, back there, years ago. My body betrayed me, decayed under the careful watch of time, and yet I stayed, hoping to rejoin your side, and to be one with you again.
I came, and I found you. But you won’t believe the truth your eyes tell you. You cannot accept that I am so empty, so shallow, so transparent. You cannot understand that my love for you is the only thing that kept this shell intact, the armour I wore when I fought at your side, protecting you, keeping you from harm.
And here I am now, screaming, crying, trying to reach you, trying harder than I ever have tried before. Here I stand, waving the arms on this empty chunk of metal that is all that remains of me, begging for you to acknowledge me, to protect me, to give me a home in your heart.
Here I am, in front of you, begging to be seen, and heard. But you cannot accept me the way that I am now. You still seek for the person you once knew.
I just want to walk at your side again, whole.
But still, you do not see me.