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No Man's Land

This is exhausting.

It’s exhausting to look back at all our memories and consciously separate the guilt from the semblance of peace. It’s exhausting to travel back in time and sit on your right as you pop in a video game late into the night and hand me a controller in a room so quiet, the old me smiles and thinks she’s ‘cool’ enough to just chill with her older brother tonight but now in those memories, I’m no longer the first person I see. Instead I see a room so quiet that you got off the sofa and plugged in a video game so violent, the noise in your head might have temporarily silenced.

It’s exhausting to meet the people I used to know, today. It’s exhausting to justify their interest in me so suddenly, now that my existence evokes so much pity. Pity in the eyes of stubborn adults who believe your death ruined me. Pity in the eyes of family that once saw so much potential but now all they see is all the fight trickle out of me slowly. Pity in the eyes of those around me who know I’m only in my twenties and yet obsessed with death and all its mysteries.

It’s exhausting to meet new people today. The people who meet me for the first time, already breaking. The people who meet me with parts already missing. The people who see vacant eyes and a disinterested smile and immediately decide that’s all there is to me because even superficially I have so many holes that they can’t imagine anything lying below the surface anymore. The people who recognize my inability to integrate naturally. The people who see all the baggage propped up on my shoulders unabashedly and take a few steps back ever so subtly.

It’s exhausting to look forward to the future. A future where eventually you will be reduced to a gilded framed portrait placed carefully in the main sitting room for so many years, you become a mere accessory to my life. A future where one day I may have the family I dream of, and I may even be riding this wave of pride, until one day my child will look up at me with earnest eyes and point to the frame and ask who you are and why you’re there and not by our side and I will weep because even years down the line, whenever it comes to you, I still somehow fail.

It’s exhausting to mourn you and it’s exhausting not to. It’s exhausting looking back at memories that are now tainted and looking forward to a future I never anticipated. It’s exhausting to always have to consciously compartmentalize my pain when my arm is branded with your name. As if I am a nameless soldier part of a war I never signed for and so when I’m on the battlefield I am mourning you and staking my claim, but even when I’m sitting in the trenches surrounded by puffs of smoke, the war is still aflame. Like a solider in the trenches, I’m waiting for some kind of miracle for the war to finally end, but we all know that even after the enemies are slain, the soldier returning home is never the same.

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