when you find all the holes in yourself
by Keren Ziv

There came with the air a chill that she did not appreciate. It was grave and ominous; it was breath frosted with a portentous taste. She recognized a childhood tang in it, and in it she found the meaning of bereavement. Observed: she was lacking some auspicious piece of her very self. She searched: up and down the corridors of her life; and searched: in the crevices, taking herself further and further away from reality (but: she was yet to find herself).

And so then she was gone and vanished, and they searched for her for hours and days and years, but only one person could make her return (and for her to be back? she was discovered: not found).

And even in the life she lived now, be it many days hence, she was still only. Only just barely there, only slightly aware of anything around her. She was singular; she was alone; and she was lost. She had been misplaced for a countless time, and then she thought she found herself; but once reassembled, she saw herself missing fragments too delicate to glue back in place.

She was: stepping off of a transport pod and dreading her future, though she thought that she had been taught to embrace what could be.

And there was the alternate, standing to the side, staring at her, waiting for her to be (alive? in love?) again, and she recognized only a small bit of what he was. So she turned and faced the wall, and later dreamt of things that were real, which had happened with the actual one, not this substitute. And she saw him -- yes, though she could not sleep, she saw him every night. Picturing his every detail, she ran her fingertips over the ghost of his face and sometimes gasped for air.

As she walked catacombs of her memory, she replayed the inconsequential events. She outlined the small things that she hoped were too trivial to be replaced with confusion (like the way that he would hold her close to his chest while they poured over his notebook, and they traced together tiny words which seemed to her to yearn for the precise clicks of her tongue). Times like those, she did not suppose she would mistake for him.

(Ages later), the atmosphere on the ship seemed to her to be too thin, and she sucked in a breath, shockingly desperate for air. There was time in her mind that she could not place, could not attribute, and it ate at her. Lost: the ability to read time's ciphering; and she stared dully at the pulse of the ship, wondering if it were yesterday or three dozen yesterdays that she was recalling.

She rolled over and pulled the sheets a little tighter.


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