why can't you miss me?
The sad thing was that they were kind of catalogued in her head anymore. Circumstances that she'd imagined and pulled up whenever, trying to remember what some of the smells might have been, the situations where things would have started as factual as she could have made them - as all of these incidents would always be fabricated, naturally. ..well, they almost all had been. Save for a handful of minutes that were just hers that loomed in a weird kind of grey area where she could remember it happening in a way. Like the back of her brain tickled and thrummed when picked out the right times to remember -- she could remember being crowded for seconds, seconds that felt like long hours. The kinds of seconds that burn your muscles from the inside against December cold walls that turned warm from a long night. They weren't her favorite kinds of minutes, but you took what was given to you, sometimes. Sometimes that's all that there would ever be.

She could remember the weird clank of unfamiliar teeth against hers, hands that fit differently on her clothes and against her skin lifting her up like there was nothing else, not that she was nothing, not like it was light. Like the whole thing was too heavy and the only way to make the air soft enough to pass into their lungs again was to lift her up. And it was the worst thing that she could think of at the time, because it was the only thing that she could pass the quiet in-betweens with thoughts of. That was all it was, too. Not from an emotional point, no. The one that let you taste and smell the thick air and the feelings that were ready to leap from one person to the next and back again - that one. The one where it wouldn't ever be more than a collection of seconds that lasted so long on the end of her tongue.

It had happened one more time, in the quiet of night but the bright, bright lights of the downstairs bedroom. Just that, nothing else. Just another weird passing of seconds where he took the air out of her, where she felt the warm, foreign slide of his mouth against hers, briefly. Always briefly. It wasn't something she was ever going to be sure about, not even in her dreams - of course she'd dreamt about it. It's what happened when a home was kind of empty from the inside out. But that wasn't anything special, dreaming about anybody - she dreamed about lots of people, lots of different things, different rooms, different smells and calendar dates, different conversations. Just one little thing changing over and over in her head until it was just right. And it took so much to get something just - just - just right, thinking about the different turns in conversation, the ways that an arm might bend and how eyes changed, how the eyes she could pick the colors out of as her eyes were shut in the dark cold. The way that a throat might be gruffer, more quiet - nails that might have been sharper than hers. Who were they any time, really. How stupid and silly were all these dreams, these projections of things that wouldn't ever ever happen.

Which was why she was surprised when it'd happened, when it got brought up in conversation in passing. After she'd decided she'd do something she told herself she wasn't ever going to do again, which, the thing she did, it was small, all things considered - these things, she'd hoped, these small things were hoped to be big enough to linger in thought and just around the edges of fingertips and how a person might squint at the sunlight and wonder, maybe. Maybe was better than a no, it wasn't ever quite a yes, either. Not outright - hers, well, sometimes hers were. She said maybe more than she said yes to anything anymore. And sometimes that's all they were in the first place.

Roman could hear the question, the question that had been asked by two totally different people - two different people who weighed her down by being threaded with thin, strong wire through her ribs. They could have cut the soft spots of her chest open without thinking, a little movement, a little sway, the slice would have been clean on the outside and deep. That's sort of how the questions felt every time she remembered one of them, obviously though, the one, she wouldn't remember completely. Just the edge of the words being pointed at just the right place. But the other time, the time she could remember, that was easy enough. Where did the woman I fell in love with go, what happened to her, what changed. What changed after the world started crumpling in on itself when there was nothing to do except internalize what happened. Where does anyone go after that - where do they grab and what do they find when they do.

Not that she went grabbing, not really. There were maybe passing swipes without any intention of holding on, because that's not what she did. Passing thoughts of other people, notions of what something might be like were one thing. Maybe that had been the problem, the less intent on actually acting on these ideas or urges where as other people... Other people were all too happy to forget and go for an evening, a day, months maybe. And then when there wasn't anything left to take or to give, still manage to grip in harder and wrestle the last part out with the words of the apology through gritted teeth. Who did that, why did they do that. Why apologize for something so big like it was anything at all, when there was actual feeling of regret lingering around any part of your fingertips. These were all wonderful things to think about when there was no one left to ask, when there was nobody left to say those things to. It was weird, it remained weird, throwing those words around with a pretend kind of weight.

Though, that one time - that one time. It was nice, it was something that she could have gotten lost in and there were days that she resented him for making it go so quickly. It wasn't supposed to be for her and maybe it was a secret that got kept in somebody's palm next to one of the lines on a palm that crossed and braided with the head or the success line, but. It was so different and she could, maybe, maybe she was projecting, but there were stolen parts of her, of him, of time that she would miss more.

These were not things anyone really wanted to think about when they went through their closets, through their boxes and bags of a used-to-be life. Because that's what it was, wasn't it. That was a used to be, it didn't define anything anymore, it was just a weird husk of a life that wasn't so far away, but enough removed that it felt like it shouldn't have been there in the first place. This was, perhaps, something to think about while sifting through boxes and hangers, bags and cases. Things folded up in comforters that hadn't seen the light of day in at least a year. There were things that hadn't seen anything or anybody in a long time, and she could feel the little pieces of herself warming through the half-clouds-half-sun that were trying to shine through the window. It wasn't all so bad, sure, they were a little ... well, she was always the first one to own up to the fact that she had a soft spot for collecting absolutely ridiculous things. But it was nice that they were hers and that they weren't misunderstood for whatever reason. -- or was she twisting things up in her head again, she might have been. The look on her face was more than a little confused as things started to fill the shelves in her living room -- she might have been. It wasn't all that bad, honestly. Dead things were just what they were, and sometimes people didn't always want to acknowledge the fact that they might have been dead for a while.

As if the day wasn't weird and hollow enough, the headboard tried to attack her when she was making up her bed with the new summer sheets. Well, new. Not so new, rather old, kind of warn in with some of the brighter colors faded - ducks, there were yellow-y ducks against a blue back with a couple of matching pillow cases. And it made her really happy - the ducks, not so much her bed trying to give her concussion. There was the problem of the sewing machine, where it was going to do and what she was going to have to go look for because it might have been broken once she moved it out of storage, car and not in the van, trying to be gentle with it just didn't seem to want to work. And, man, wasn't that something that the whole ordeal could be wrapped up with a bow about. It was weird, it wasn't ever not going to be weird, was the thing.

This was better, she mulled the statement over again and again - it was a weird kind of mantra to have, all things considered. She knew, logically, this was better -- and just like a scene in her favorite movie that nobody liked watching, she was playing her records too loud and running around -- not that she was making baskets with waste paper in hopes that somebody was going to call. Well, no, that wasn't true - she did that, but she'd always done that. Her cat, her cat would argue as she sat on top of the love seat that was lodged near the corner of the living room against a rug that was still rolled up. The cat knew, like most cats did, all the secrets nobody wanted to talk about - these ones seemed pretty tame all things considered, to the cat anyway. The cat could remember when the house was cold and dark, when her paws wandered on the warm corners up the stairs and there were happier voices that sort of pricked at her ears. There were worse things.

There was the rut that was wrapped up all around the person she lived with, it wasn't hard to see it - the same sad songs droning through the speakers (which were the first things that were arranged and hooked up, corners of the rooms, the back bedroom empty enough for them both to lay around in the middle of the hardwood floor and sun themselves. Well -- Czarina sunned herself while Roman shut her eyes and put things away in her thoughts. Which wasn't as easy as it used to be. Other people had it worse, she didn't have the troubles that some of her friends had, and maybe, maybe there was a fraction of her self that was thankful for that. All that deliberate work to keep her as far away from it as she could -- there was something to be said for that, what it was, she wasn't ever quite sure).

That had been a day she picked her up by the sides, the cat's fur was all warm from the glass and the sun and not being in the shadows -- holding her carefully against her chest, she'd sighed and scratched around behind the cat's ears -- happy to see the sleepy look plastered all over the cat's face and fangs. It was one of those days. She was sick of last month, last month and this month still totally full of walking through ideas and remembering and all the ghosts that wanted to trip and fall into the forefront of her thoughts. It wasn't fair, it wasn't anything she'd wanted, not really. Of course, there were things that would be missed. Those things were gone forever, forever was a very long time, a concept that stretched out beyond people and time and everything else - so why did those things always want to stir up and sit in the front of every dream, every conversation, every odd sideways glance that maybe, maybe somebody would knock at the door or let themselves in and how mean was it to let yourself run with those things into misplaced and awful daydreams that wound up crushing the air out of your lungs when you had everything else to do.

Days passed, a couple weeks, actually. Long enough that the apartment was finally almost done, her couch was still something that she'd wanted to fix. There was a coffee table that needed to be repainted. It needed to match, that much was apparent, but at the time it got delivered, Natalia was the one who'd signed for it - not that it was all that important. Her a's were less round than the counter part's, but it wasn't anything all that jarring. When she'd gotten it - she'd been back for two days, two days where she spent her time between two cats and two sets of food, two different kinds of walls -- but both spaces felt hollow for the people who'd lived in them, different reasons, she supposed, she'd guessed. As much as she ever guessed, anyway. Truly, it was impressive - getting home from somewhere so beautiful and feeling so red, empty and mortified, but in the while that she'd known that side of herself, it wasn't something that she was all that surprised by ...that much. Although, this was quickly taking the cake over all the other little incidents that liked to wrap up and collide later - this was just, well, life would have been easier if it hadn't been handled better, probably if it hadn't happened at all, truthfully.

Getting back home was quiet, the world seemed more quiet - and maybe that was for the better. Truthfully, ever since the end had happened, the world got smaller, not so much softer, not nicer, but smaller and more quiet. And while she didn't particularly like it, there were times when she'd appreciated it - and this was, well this was better than the stress. Nat stretched out with her boots hanging off the side of the sofa, the hard part of the arm digging into her ankle as the cat padded out from the bedroom and leaped onto her stomach -- making her brows go inward with a wrinkle, "Ouch," trying to remove the cat's front claws from just under her collar. "We've already talked about this," adjusting so the cat had room to lay on her properly, her paws folded in on herself while Natalia ran her fingers across her spine, "it's embarrassing but it's nothing that can't be swept under the rug," -- they had a very one sided conversation after she'd gotten home, was the thing. Czarina's big eyes blinked at her without much of a trace of her believing her - or any enthusiasm, but Natalia never really expected as much. "We will keep a professional distance and if it's ever brought up again in any depth, I will point out the obvious problems and that will be the end of it -- " the cat yawned, showing all of her disbelief, or she was projecting. She could have been projecting, "yeah I know, I don't really believe me either," she sighed, scratching under her chin as the cat's tail flicked back and forth across her legs, "but it's for the best and besides, I can make it sound believable when it's important," there was the pause and beat, shrugging to herself as she'd slowly started to exhale, "at one point in time I could, anyway."

The cat was wholly uninterested in all of these things, but that was to be expected.