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I can't breathe.

"Lila?" The voice on the other end of the phone breaks, echoing the pattern of cracks and fissures spreading across my heart.

"W-wha?" comes my helpless croak. A frail attempt to grasp at understanding, at coming to terms with what I had been told.

"He's gone. Daddy's dead," my sister moans. Searing pain spreads through my chest, as if her words were the hammer that met the nail, causing irreparable damage.


I fell to the ground when the tears came. The sobs wrenched and ripped out of my throat with full abandon as I laid my dizzy head against the pavement, absently beating the ground with a clenched fist. "No," became my totem. My word of solace. I took turns screaming and whispering the mantra until my voice gave away. "No," was grief and denial. It was unstoppable sadness and yearning for just one more day, one more chance to be my father's daughter.

I don't know when or who or how my phone was put away. I can't recall how I was helped up the stairs into bed. How long had I been asleep? How many tears had I cried before I could no longer produce them?

The worst is waking up and slowly coming to the realization that I lost a part of my entire life. Like peeling an orange, exposing the raw, vulnerable flesh within. The spiderweb formation overtakes my heart all over again only to shatter with every passing minute of wakefulness.

I can't breathe.

Submitted by S. M. Meyers

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