The Heartache of Realizing What's About to Happen



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By Neni Demetriou



It’s like that time we were talking on the phone and you were playing with that snow globe I bought for you for our anniversary. I was somewhere on St. Christopher’s Place while you were just waking up in your apartment in Stuyvesant Town. If I’m being honest with myself, I saw it happening, and it went something like this:

You were holding the snow globe in your hands and shaking it around. I could only watch (or listen, I guess) with an uneasy feeling in my stomach — like I had swallowed a rusty anchor that had grown roots in my organs. I’m watching — listening — to you shake the snow globe, tossing it up in the air while my fingers itched to grab it out of your hands and shout, “Hey, can’t you see you’re going to break it?” But my mouth felt like the Atlantic Ocean, so I took some black thread and sewed it shut.

And then I saw the next few seconds play out in slow motion as I finally tore the thread and my lips started to bleed.

You shook it so much that it slipped out of your grasp and ended up against the wall or on the wooden floor (I really can’t be sure); either way, it shattered and neither of us could put it back together. There was glass and liquid everywhere — some of it had shot through the telephone cord onto my side of the pond — and I was dying to tell you to be careful; don’t cut yourself. I — you, me, us — couldn’t really clean it up as well as I’d like, so you were just standing there in this beautiful mess while there was blood dripping from my mouth.

That’s what heartbreak kind of feels like; that’s the best analogy I can think of. That’s the heartache of realizing what’s about to happen and not being able to stop it. Of knowing there’s going to be pain and hurt in trying to fix broken people. You just stand mute and watch — listen, God dammit — things fly out of people’s hand.

I just listened to it shatter all around us and it’s suddenly raining glass everywhere and then — only for a moment, a second — I prayed for the glass to cut my face and arms and legs, just so I could wear the scars on the outside because, maybe then, the scars deforming and defiling my insides will also announce themselves to the world. And maybe that’s the beauty of heartbreak; of an aching heart.

“There’s only one company left in the world that makes snow globes,” you whispered and I swear my heart wasn’t even pumping blood around my body any more. Isn’t that insane? Isn’t that sad? Because how are we going to fix it? I think the worst part is that the company is in London, and that just makes everything harder, doesn’t it? It’s hard when the snow globe broke in Manhattan and the company is all the way in London.

I wish I could have told you to just ship it over; just send it to me. Or just get on the plane and come to me. JFK to LHR isn’t that big of a deal. Maybe then I would be able to finally understand why our snow globe broke; maybe then I’d be able to have closure. Maybe with the package, band-aids and disinfectants would be in there, too. Maybe then I’d be able to heal myself — and in the process, cauterize some of your wounds, too.

I wish I hadn’t said, “I don’t know,” when you asked me how I saw this — us — playing out. I wish I could have told you how I would jump on planes and walk on water for you. I wish I could have to told you about all the research I have been doing ever since I left you at that damned airport. I wish I could write out how I see our future but maybe that’s where the problem lies in the first place — because words can’t fix broken glass and kiss wounds away. Maybe the problem is that I write instead of speak; that I write in blank ink instead of speaking colourful words.

I wish I could tell you that all you have to do is ask me to fix it because the whole world can be put on hold just for you; it really can.

But I think my world was washed away the moment the snow globe shattered around our legs; when its warm and soapy liquid took my mangled body and pulled me under the river Thames while you watched me drown.

I wish you had just one fraction of the faith that I have for our future; the faith that would have saved my soul tonight. Instead, all that I have left is my broken faith and splinters in my fingers from the cross that I carry with fragments of glass in my hair.

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Neni Demetriou

Descended from Asia Minor Greeks and the Hellenes of Egypt, Neni Demetriou is a fiction writer who fell in love with New York City after living in Los Angeles for two years. She’s currently living in London and working on her novella, ‘I Have Angered Poseidon.'

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