an unhealthy habit?

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Wracked, convulsing, drawing ragged breaths she sweats, damp all over. Inhaling seems a labour, exhaling appears as if her body were glad to be rid of the oxygen that traps it in the cycle of respiration. Although the keening whistle that is dragged out of her torn throat by the outward breath spoils any chance of expellation signifying relief. The pain of the other combines with her own memories, her own pain and blooms inside her, pollinated by her actions, cleansing the other, taking the pain into herself.

Hiccuping more air into her lungs, she holds her stomach with her arms tight across her body, bent and tense. She waits, a brief moment of nothing, sweet nothing, before crashing realisation breaks over her and she is swept away again into the bone-crushing darkness, body forgotten, merely a shell resisting the vacuum inside.

She wishes for numbness but cant even picture it, every conscious thought half forming before being whirled away back into the maelstrom of pain and despair.

Alone again, unable to conceive of anything, even herself, as anything beyond this. Eventually her mind wanders, becoming less absorbed by the pain, although not unaware of it. Still unswallowed by that gaping black hole inside, it's flickering edges lashing her raw, other things seep in. The roaring maw quiets in her ears, allowing the sounds of a car stopping outside the window and people moving to worm their way into her consciousness. Wavering dangerously on the edge of despair and life, she feels her self returning.

Her mind striving to the outside yet needing to feel how deep the pain goes like probing a bad tooth with one's tongue, she stares into the black hole and tries to move back towards it. Wanting to be so close to it that it's unrelenting absoluteness will overwhelm her, but it retreats. The black becomes grey. Her unwilling ears pick up the sounds of life. Muffled murmurs, the metallic grate of a key in a lockand the whispers and clanks of coats and keys being shed.

She folds the note, tucks it into the jeans pocket of the still warm body, slips out of the window and drops with all the noise of a careful cat into the alley alongside the house. She wipes her face with the crook of her arm, no longer able or willing to differentiate between what is tears and what is not, stands up and strides further into the gloom as the sobbing cries of disbelief begin to escape from the house, still muffled by the walls. As she she turns a corner, a step between hearing and not, a single sharp, panicked scream reaches her, disturbing the smooth, comforting velvet of the night.

And the game starts all over again.

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