BREATHING

BREATHING

From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Love & Friendship

Breathing

(inhale.)

tears begin to flood my face like a cup left under a

running faucet well after the water has reached the rim,

my heart leaping to my throat,

getting caught,

squeezing,

twisting,

tearing.

my throat contracting around the emotions that threaten

to leap up & out of my lips,

my stomach

rumbling,

wrestling,

knotting.

my hands quiver as I reach up to blot the tiny teardrops,

leaving footprints down my cheeks.

the path that awaits me

suddenly seems like a pilgrimage,

one foot,

next foot,

step,

step,

I see you.

(I see her.)

you smile.

I smile.

(she leaves.)

you ask how I am.

(I lie.)

I reply that I’m fine

(even though my heart has just crept up into my mouth &

is jumping up & down on my tongue like an Olympic

diver waiting to hit the water).

I want to say that I miss you,

let you know that every moment I’m awake I think of you.

I want you to know that I miss your arms,

your smile,

your lips.

I want you to know that

(I’m incomplete)

my body hurts,

my soul bleeds.

I ask how you are

(hoping against all hope that you’ll tell me what I want to

     hear).

you reply,

(your answer not including that you miss me,

that you miss my arms, my lips, my touch).

my eyes attempt to strip you down to your soul

(searching for what I once knew so well).

they get lost,

(but find their way back to reality when

they graze over the [ever-fading] hickey, just above

the collar of the shirt she bought you).

my heart leaps off the end of my tongue,

wanting you to see the way you’ve hurt me

wanting you to hurt the same way.

it falls to the ground.

(she calls you.)

you hastily say good-bye,

(as you trot over to her)

stomping,

squishing,

mutilating

my vulnerable, fallen heart.

(not even pausing long enough to scrape it off the

bottom of your shoe, like a discarded piece of gum.)

she wraps her arms around your neck,

brings her lips to yours . . .

(your ears still turn red.)

people pass, as if I don’t even exist.

(I want to cry, scream, shout.)

I want someone to find my heart,

bring it back,

piece it together.

I turn away,

hoping that one day it won’t hurt

(as much)

and hoping that I will again be able to call you

and have you come over to me,

be able to buy you shirts that match your eyes,

(and leave the telltale hickey just above the collar)

and will still be able to make your ears turn red from the

friction of our lips.

I walk away,

knowing my heart will not follow.

(exhale.)

Michelle Siil

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