by Melanie-Anne

Long lost words whisper slowly to me
Still can't find what keeps me here
When all this time I've been so hollow inside
I know you're still there

1. Hollow

She wipes her hand across the foggy glass allowing her distorted reflection to stare back at her. She barely recognizes the face in the mirror. Her wet hair clings to her skull, emphasizing how thin she's gotten over these last months. The cheekbones he complimented her on stick out too much-

No, she thinks. She will not think about him anymore. She cannot.

This is what she tells herself every morning. It hasn't worked so far.

She drops her gaze to her left shoulder. Her scarred shoulder. The shoulder he sewed up for her.

(He could have left you for the pigs.)

She bites her bottom lip, glad of the pain, glad she still feels something.

She traces the scar, tears springing to her eyes as she realizes she can't remember what his touch feels like.

(Am I that easy to forget, Clarice?)

Ardelia thinks she should go for counseling. Maybe Ardelia's right, but she can't bear the thought of sharing her feelings with anyone.

Anyone but him.

No, not even him.

(If you'd never let him into your head, you wouldn't feel this way now.)

She doesn't know when she started loving him. She's not even sure if it's love that she feels, but thinks it wouldn't hurt so much if she didn't. She won't let herself wonder what he feels for her.

(Would you ever say to me, stop, if you loved me, you'd stop?)

But she wonders anyway. She hopes he's safe, wherever he is. Hopes he's happy. Hopes he thinks of her too.


2. The Road Taken

Watching me wanting me
I can feel you pull me down
Fearing you loving you
I won't let you pull me down

(Do you ever feel eyes on you?)

She thinks she's losing her mind. Or maybe it's that she wants him to come back so badly, she imagines that he's really there. She feels it most when she's jogging through Shenandoah Park. It bothered her at first, but now she takes comfort in it.

If he's there, it means he still cares. If he's not . . . well, insanity has its own rewards.

She laughs. It's a strange feeling; she thought she'd forgotten how.

At night, she thinks about what could have been. Would they be happy? Or would he have tired of her? Would she be dead right now?

It should scare her that the thought of death is a welcome one, but it doesn't. Maybe he's already there, calling to her from beyond the grave. Maybe one day she'll give in and join him . . .

(Pull yourself together, Clarice. Stop acting like he broke your heart.)

She wants to tell Ardelia that it's not an act but how could Ardelia possibly understand? He's in her head, in her blood . . . so deep inside her that she can't remember a life before him.

Maybe that's what he wanted from the beginning.

She's not sure how much longer she can take this. One of these days she is going to break and the truth will come tumbling out.


3. Open Season

Hunting you I can smell you - alive
Your heart pounding in my head

She has turned into one of those freaks who cruise the Internet all night. Lurking in chat rooms and message boards, and hoping and praying that she'll run into him. But she knows better than to think she'll find him there.

It surprises her to read that some people actually want them to be together. Once, she came across one site where someone had morphed their images and titled the composition 'Beauty and the Beast'.

It hurts.

Not because he's the beast, but because the photos remind her of her mistake.

For the first time in eleven months, she remembers how his lips felt on hers.

(That's my girl.)

Good. They felt good. Soft and warm and sweet and oh, how she wishes she'd kissed him back.

She prays every night for a second chance but she doesn't expect an answer. She doesn't believe in God so why should he believe in her?

Sometimes, she hates this thing that she's become.

(What would your Daddy say?)

She blames him. He changed her, somehow. In small ways, so small she didn't realize it was happening. But somewhere along the line, he messed up. He didn't change her enough to make her go with him.

(And if I came back, Clarice?)


4. Haunted

Watching me wanting me
I can feel you pull me down
Saving me raping me
Watching me

She wishes she'd never given in to Ardelia. She doesn't like the doctor. Perhaps it's because there's only room for one doctor in her heart.

(Head. I meant to say head.)

(Really, Clarice?)

(Fuck you!)

(You're not taking your medication, are you?)

Bastard, she thinks. She doesn't need medication. She is not crazy.

(Depression is nothing to be ashamed about, Agent Starling. Millions of people suffer from it.)

He doesn't understand. He thinks of her as a victim. She's not. She's a warrior.

(Let's talk about what happened that night at the Chesapeake.)

She shakes her head. She doesn't want to talk about it. Please don't make her talk about it!

(I'm sorry you feel that way, Agent Starling. I really felt these sessions were going somewhere.)

She has given up hope that he'll ever come back. Why should he? She made it all too clear that night . . .

(Not in a thousand years.)

. . . But she'd been wrong. All she has left is in her head. She'll have to be content with that.

When she goes to bed, it's with a handful of pills and a glass of scotch. She dreams of his hands on her skin, of his lips on hers, and hears him murmur her name.

In the morning, she sees the untouched alcohol on the bedside table and the pills next to it. She realizes how close she came and starts to cry.

It will never be over.

She wonders why she can't hate him.


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