I opened my eyes lazily and watched the bare light bulb swing back and forth on a thick wire. I could hear the strands of copper rubbing against each other. I could smell the rust.
I closed my eyes and blew out a spiral of icy breath. I opened my eyes again. The light stopped swinging.
I was in an old kitchen; the house was thought to be abandoned long ago. But we never left. There was nowhere else we would rather be.
The counters were bare and shining, we never had a use for them. It was daytime. But no sunlight ever came in. Only shadows did, which made the kitchen sadder and more gloomy-like. The floor was cold, but there were no bugs or rats here. They didn't dare enter here.
I stood up and brushed the dust off my clothes. Instantly, I was struck with vertigo. I wondered how long I had been lying there, changing the world inside my head.
Lia coughed from behind me. One of us was always sick. She came to stand next to me. She was emitting fiery warmth. I put the back of my hand against her forehead.
"You're warm. You should take some medicine," I whispered. It was always whispers around here. Part of me was afraid if we're too loud, then the house would shatter.
Lia put her hand over mine, and held it tight. Half of her face was illuminated by the light. Her short hair was sticking out at odd angles, as it constantly was when she wakes up. Usually, she put her bangs into a ponytail that stuck straight up. It reminded me of a unicorn. But Lia was more beautiful, more majestic, and real. If only I were real too.
"I've been thinking a lot..." she said, avoiding eye contact.
"I love you," I said. I looked her dead in the eyes. I rubbed my thumb in circles over the smooth skin on the back of her hand. It brought me back, all the way back to when we ran down the empty streets, kicking pebbles, laughing at the breeze, smelling the grass that was never cut, splashing water from the pure ponds, the whole time we were hand in hand. We were always connected.
I watched her swallow hard. Look at me, Lia, please. Smile, for me. Something, anything. LIA COME BACK HOME. I pushed the thoughts at her, and I hoped a thousand times that one day she would get them. She would wake up from her daydreams and know how much I need her, right now.
Suddenly, my world got hot. So hot I could feel the thick air shoving its way down my throat. I choked. Lia stared at me hopelessly, like she always did at this point.
I knew how things went now. The air would get hotter and hotter. I would cough and scream and fall down. Lia would wrap her arm around my waist from behind me. Then she would put her nose against the back of my neck. Her cold breath saved me. Her simple words kept me alive. She would murmur into my ear, see you in the morning, love. Then she did. She was there when I woke up that day. When we woke up we laughed at each other's bed head, and ate breakfast together, and walked together, and then we sat with each other. We sat and neither of us talked, but both of us knew. We knew each other so well, words weren't necessary anymore. The world around us spun and spun, but we were living to our own tune. Eventually, time found us. Then I broke.Now, I will wake up, because right now, at this very moment, it is time for me to keep going. I will count down the days. Worst of all, I will cry because Lia is hundreds of miles away and I have no idea if she is just fine without me. I have no idea if she has replaced me. Please, Lia, I love you…