Under the duvet you are completely, excruciatingly alone. Put a foot out, let it touch the floor; shrivel back. It’s hard but you must insist. Drag yourself to the kitchen; let blistering coffee open your eyes. Do not check your phone. You’re wasting your time. He has gone. Let the bathroom steam up. Sing if you want to. Lather luxury all over your starving body. Do not think about where he is now. He’s not here. Remind yourself to eat. Stroke on mascara; highlight a flicker of light. Take time to stretch: you will get stronger. The knots are loosening. Indulge the dog, feel his wet nose on your cheek; nuzzle back; let a bit of love in. Put your head around your son’s door; watch the rise and fall of his nearly adult frame and smile. Believe him when he stirs and murmurs that he’ll be fine. He will be. You’ve done a good job. Ignore the voices in your head. Stride down your street, head held high; smile at your neighbours; be yourself. Let the spring breeze caress your face. Breathe deeply through the car window as you pass yellow-flowering meadows. You are going in the right direction. Watch joy and happiness mingle and laugh in departures and arrivals. Let yourself go. He’s not watching. As the plane circles the island, take in the promise of sparkling turquoise, endless golden beaches, hope-filled mountains and let a tear slide. It really is beautiful. Allow yourself to shriek as your friends pull you into a warm hug. Reflect on the heat as you skip out into scorching sunshine. Finally shed your layers; strip down to vibrant essentials. Do not be surprised if you have completely thawed. Down a shot of tequila just to be sure.
Julia Ruth Smith is a teacher, mother and writer. She lives by the sea in Italy. Her work has recently been published in Versification, Sledgehammer Lit, Zero Readers Mag and others. She is on Twitter @JuliaRuthSmith1
Photo – Julia Ruth Smith
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