Letters in Half-Shadow

by Paulina Meyer

Between my sheets hide fickle words. Today I dreamt of nothingness,

they read, but the nothingness is tangible. Medical professionals

enunciate the possibility of doom, and we prepare for a diagnosis

before the fall. Or a clenched fist in the chest before the heart shatters

on the pavement. Either way there is an open window, and no matter

how hard we push it will not close. The words are palpable in weight

and wrap themselves around my tongue, desirably.

Do you ever feel like dying , she asks me one day. We are walking along

Beethoven Strasse, and my eyes linger on the apple trees in our

grandparents’ orchard, uttering silence. Does my no dismiss your yes ? I

wonder. Her passing thought becomes the seedling in a damp bed of


It is Christmas Eve when she tells us that she tried to jump. I think

back to her intended date of departure and wonder if it was before or

after she started her affair with death. But a switch has turned, and the

phrases around my tongue evaporate. Instead I lie on the bathroom

floor with head in hands and hope for the aching to pass. Like the

words in my bed, Death is fickle—and my sister has become his


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