I couldn't breathe. Everything was just too close. The people and their cluttered lives of emotions and loss and triumph. I couldn't take it anymore. My children, each so different, so beautiful, and intense. They all collided with my soul, crashing inside my head, tearing my soul apart as their own ebbed and flowed around and through my senses. Too much. It was all too much, too close.
Their breathes joined the fog, adding to the humidity in the heavy air. My husband, my rock, the only person I knew who's emotions didn't permeate me on a daily basis, but then, he didn't seem to feel much where it could reach out and touch anyone. He locked everything away, as if those carpentry skills he'd mastered growing up had been used to chisel out some new hidden compartment for his heart to hide in over the course of our marriage. I watched him sleep for a while, trying to will the closeness we'd once had back into the air between us. I watched each of my children in turn as they dreamed their dreams.
Closing the front door behind me, the one that didn't belong to us, the one we'd been allowed with all sorts of strings attached, I started walking.
We lived in freedom but we were not free.
I walked the road, turning here and there, following the heartbeat in a wind that neither lifted nor moved the clouds too heartbroken to lift themselves off the ground and back into their place in the sky. They didn't belong here, but neither did I. Yet their closeness held no camaraderie, no consolation, they were just one more entity closing in on me in the darkness.
The road gave way to gravel, and that gave way to sand, and the wind moved stronger, just strong enough to still be gentle as the predawn colors started oozing up from the briny ocean.
The sky was ageless, not a cloud or a star to show time's passing but for the blackness giving way to dawn. There had been no storms, no squalls, the tide even seemed content to stagnate in the murk. This was not life.
A gull called out from the nothingness and his voice sent chills down my spine. Even the sunrise was dull. The light faded as it reached down to the earth.
This was not life, but it was mine.