It's late and as the bathtub fills with very hot water, the steam is rising up and opening the pores on my skin. So sensitive am I at this point that I can almost feel them opening wide, like a yawn, taking in the steam. Opening wide, expelling the unnecessary. The analogy drives me to tears.

Sitting at the edge of the bath now, salt spilling down cheeks, grabbing at my middle and feeling more sorry for myself than I probably ought to. Two weeks ago I became a statistic. I was pregnant. The baby inside me stopped growing. Its precious cells stopped splitting, and my body kept on preparing for something that would never come. I didn't know; not until the first wave of pain and nausea hit me. Not until the hospital, the blood, the pain, the tears.

These sorts of things are bittersweet. I'm not supposed to have any more children anyway - twice now I nearly died during childbirth. Bad things come in threes; I'm not taking any chances. My husband saw to it nearly seven years ago that I wouldn't have to undergo any operations, and had a vasectomy. However, life has a way of happening. It always does.

Baby mine, I barely had a chance to make any sort of decision, and the decision was taken away, and I feel terrible for feeling relieved about that.

Tub full, heart empty. I submerge and close my eyes. Listen to the muffled-yet-distinct sounds around me. Nothing sounds: The furnace. A car outside. The footfalls of our cat. My heartbeat. My breath pulling in and out in nagging wisps. Metallic tinkering within the tub walls, metallic sound of blood pumping through me. Metallic taste of blood in my mouth. Salt and bitterness running down skin. Molting tears and wondering when it will stop.

One day I will put my hand through you and find out you were an apparition after all. The ticking of the clock will slow my heart's pace to a dull thud... thud... thud... and I will feel the ache starting at the back of my throat.

It will slowly spread up and around and pinch at my cheeks until they are flush and pull at my eyes until they start to water. The hot dry feeling in my mouth will cause me to breath a little slower and a little heavier and I will wring my hands with worry. My head will feel empty and my heart will feel heavy and my feet will shuffle and I will look for an escape.

I will wake up to empty, everywhere empty. I will look for you in the places I would always find you and I will find only empty spaces.

I will ache and I will ache.

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