I’m not sure what she is. She might be a ghost. Her eyes are sunken and fragile, as if anything she sees might cause her to shatter into a thousand jagged-edged pieces.
My dreams seem to be her vessel. She drifts through them soundlessly, staring at me desperately with those hollow eyes. She is everywhere I go; everywhere I am. Sometimes she opens her mouth as if to speak, but I do not think she has a voice. Perhaps she lost her breath long ago.
She has the appearance of one who was once very lovely. Her features are mapped out delicately upon her gaunt, drawn face. Her mouth curves ever so slightly upward at the corners, suggesting that she could wear a smile well, if only her eyes were not so tired.
At times when I see her silent, worn frame from the corner of my eye, I envy her. She floats so effortlessly, so inconspicuously, so passively. Without a voice, she never says the wrong thing. Without a spirit, she never pushes too hard. Without strength, she never struggles.
Each time we encounter each other, she seems closer and closer to disappearing. The curves of her delicate bones become more prominent, her smooth skin grows cold and colorless. She cannot follow me like she used to. Her eyelids droop slowly over her empty eyes. When curiosity draws me close to her, she whispers faintly, “I have given up.”
I do not see her again.
One night I dream that I am floating in an expanse of cold, solid black. The stale air fills my lungs and I choke silently on my hopelessness. At once I am filled with the fatalistic knowledge that I have no choice but to let the blackness slowly erase me. My eyes begin to flutter shut. A jolt of panic and I awaken, shuddering, feeling the chill of my evaporating sweat. I tiptoe to the bathroom and arouse my senses with a splash of icy water. As slowly tilt my face upward to wipe the tiny beads from my forehead, I stop short –
There she is once more. And yet she is different. There is a rosy undertone that spreads beneath her still-defined cheekbones. Her eyes, though sunken, hold a microscopic spark that lights up the corners of her slightly upturned mouth.
I reach out wonderingly to touch her, but my fingers brush cold glass.
I smile at her. She smiles back.
I chose not to give up.
A single glassy tear shines in her eye. It tells me more than words ever could.