She was nothing. They were nothing. She knew it, but still when she was walking home from his apartment in the frosty air with her coat tucked around her body it was hard not to imagine a certain inevitability.

Not to say that she thought any of it meant anything, just that there was a vague whisper that it could mean something, someday, maybe, possibly.

It was that whisper that lulled her to sleep when all she wanted was another persons body wrapped around her at night. It was just the promise of a future neither of them had ever promised each other. Each one of them giving and retracting in equal measures until the only things that stretched between them were the brief moments spent together at midnight.

So when she walked home and the air bit into her tender skin, she repeated over and over again in her head, _nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. _

And before her, the city lights blinked on and off. And behind her, his warm skin that had not protested as her body stepped out into the cold.

Walking the city at night after leaving his place always felt a little bit unreal, like the world she was treading in was fictitious. A novel she existed in after 2 am. Though she had wanted him to ask her to stay, she was always secretly glad he had kicked her out, forced her to face outward instead of inward, forced her to think about all of the blinking lights and how many worlds they were, and how nothing she was. This was a good nothing, though, she thought, as her breath puffed out in front of her. The kind of nothing that said, _it doesn’t matter who you are or how big your emotions are or what they mean or what you wish you had said, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, you don’t matter. _

And slipping into her own sheets afterwards always felt like coming home. She wasn’t wrapped in anyone’s body but her own.

February 2019

by Brittany Chavez