You try to recall whether or not there is tongue involved when trying to resuscitate someone who hasn’t breathed down the back of your neck in over 28 days. It would be rude to say she was rotting, inaccurate to say that she was wasting away. Just because your speech was lacking doesn’t mean she wasn’t swaying somewhere just out of frame. Just because the phone bill didn’t show her number this month doesn’t mean her voice wasn’t ringing in your ears. Out of sight, out of mind does not apply. You would be selfish to assume that because you decided not to think about her that she ceased to be. You prefer to say she is sleeping. That she slipped through the cracks of what you promised and what you pleased, light like slumber. You can admit you didn’t feel her departure until it bit back, until it sprung itself on you one night, sharp like a phantom limb. This is what a haunting is: to remain persistently; to loiter; to stay. At her best she is a shrine, somewhere you can go to lay flowers on every word you ever muttered under your breath. At her worst, an effigy where you can place the blame on her shoulders and watch it perch dirty like pigeons. You struggle with what you mean to her now, with the duality of what you have done. One minute she was there and the next she was caked under your nails like dirt. One minute she was there and now she is in your mouth, under your bed, smudged on the face of the girl you keep almost calling by her name. One minute she was there and next she was a pool of sweat, an unforgiving fever.
Between working, writing and trying to overcome her online shopping addiction, Gabrielle Octavia Rucker can be found on public transportation swearing lightly under her breath. She is the author of the chapbook, You Are Go(o)d To Me (forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press, 2014).