In Every Word, A World

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I am there when she stands teetering on the edge, a nervous half-smile frozen on her face—the split-second before heart-stopping realisation. I was there when she signed the papers with a determined grimace, her morning chore of the day, to be finished before she picked the kids up from school. I will be there cradling her in my arms, as the cancer eats away at her pancreas and her life.

Every moment there is, was and ever will be, I am, I was, I will be there.

***

I jumped when she fell. After that hot, cruel moment of almost, when my swiping hand nearly caught her fingers, so close I swear I could feel the warmth of her skin.

I jump. It’s hard to know what’s going through my mind. Maybe I think I can save her. Maybe I couldn’t stand the thought of her being alone, at the bottom. I fall, I fell—through space at first, then something broke. They are like threads, fabric giving way as alien weight crashes through. I can feel them, sometimes. Some coarse, some thin, some gossamer. There is no sound, though I can imagine the rip that must thunder through some recording instrument somewhere, anywhere. I will land with an almighty thud, so hard my head rings and my ears shudder, but when I get up all will be fine. With only one thing on my mind.

There are only two possibilities: yes or no.

***

Yes. Yes, yes, yes!

I do my best, as always. I want her to live.

I want her to stay.

But most of all I want to see her smile.

You know how hard it is, weighing each word as if your life—no, the life of that special someone—depended on it? Each word, every word. As each word escapes my mouth, I am seized by rapture and regret. The word flies off my lips, and I can imagine the possibilities, freshly slaughtered, rising like spectres to float off into other worlds, flourishing, dying, burgeoning, wilting—all because I chose this word and not that, that or that. Or that, that or that. But I will chase them down one day, all of them. One by one by one, I will find out what becomes of them.

But eventually she says the words. They’re always the same words. She calls her lawyer, her lawyer calls me to his office. He stares me down while I stare at her pen dancing across the paper. Done.

Sometimes I stay. I want to see if she’s better off without me. Sometimes she is, sometimes she isn’t. But sooner or later I jump.

I always jump. Because hope beckons, you know?

***

Yes. She lives.

She stays.

She smiles.

Then one day, and that day always comes, and before I know it we’re at the hospital and I’m holding her hand and I’m squeezing my eyes shut and I’m squeezing her hand so she won’t slip away from me. But she always does.

***

No. The world is bright and shining, but she isn’t there.

I leave. I jump.

***

No. How much can a person take before sanity breaks?

***

No.

Is it the same mind that wanders through this never-ending maze, the same heart, the same spirit, the same soul? Am I the same person to her, or has there always only been one?

She’s one to me. The only one. And I would tear this world apart by the seams, this universe, all the universes there are, if only to see her again, if only to see her smile.

Every moment there is, was and ever will be, I am, I was, I will be there.