Being near to him was every bit the onslaught I thought it would be. Like Icarus flying too close to the sun. It was inevitable that I would burn.

Yesterday's embrace had done permanent damage; it had left me bludgeoned, scraped open and critically wounded. Like a werewolf victim. I felt like carnage. I felt both bruised and bleeding. I felt like the living dead.

I felt supremely foolish, still. So stupid, and savaged. I felt mentally sick and physically ill.

Being in his arms was like being high. It was like being claimed. It was like being home.

It was like that big, joyful sun. Fake.

His comfort was illusory, a dangerous precipice overlooking an abyss it had taken me years to climb out of.

I ached for him.

I'd looked at him—so casually leaning against my kitchen counter—and saw myself falling to my knees, losing my cool and babbling bullshit to him. Turning myself inside out for him.

It was a pathetic mental image, feeble enough to keep my mouth shut.

I wandered mindlessly into the kitchen and eyed Jack's teapot in the dish drain. I thought of pitching it into the trash can under the sink. The thought made me anxious. I considered the flavor of Irish Breakfast on my tongue and felt ambivalent about it.

I didn't want tea, and I wasn't going to throw the pot away. I turned my back on it and went to the living room, thinking I would go through the music in the green tub and pull out selections I thought Quinn might like.

I stared at the tub and thought about popping the lid, the feel of the rubber in my hands. I thought about the hard jewel cases, the worn leather wallets, and the flaccid college-ruled notebooks flopping awkwardly into a pile.

I could see myself getting distracted by Jack's black scrawl, his ominous lyrics, his heart inked over those pages. Things he'd written during our marriage—I didn't want to read that.

Encountering CDs that all reflected Jack's soul, I didn't want to do that.

I didn't want to do anything.

Maybe I would make a cup of tea. And read.

In the kitchen, I again considered the pot, imagined myself filling the kettle and firing the stove. I would stare into space waiting for the boil. I would lose time and eventually taste the bitter tannin of over-steeped tea and leave the cup to go cold.

I'd poor tepid too-dark tea down the drain.

I didn't want that either.

I abandoned the pot again and found myself in my bedroom, wondering if I too needed a nap.

I was aimless and restless and angsty and expectant. Pathetic. I was behaving like Quinn.

I opened my closet and pulled out the file box that contained my cameras. Backing up, I situated myself against the bed and hugged it to my chest while wondering what I thought I was up to.

Maybe I just needed some nostalgia.

I turned and set it on the bedspread, then pulled the lid on the plain cardboard box; my hands already felt chafed by its texture, by the dust.

I was chafed by everything. Rubbed raw by the last week and left wanting. Wanting things I couldn't explain, things intangible.

I wanted my wedding ring, for starters. I'd never had an engagement ring, just the plain band that shackled Jack and I together, and my hands were naked now. And had been, for nearly five years. I didn't really wear jewelry anymore, save a ladder of studs and hoops up each ear, and my watch—a black cuff of leather with a silver time piece.

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