Hermit Heart.

A single blade of grass poking its head out of the barren earth. A desolate leaf falling to the ground.

There are two kinds of loneliness. She had been both, at different times; she had been both at once. A hopeful individuality competed with an ache in her chest she couldn’t shake off no matter how hard she danced. Freedom came with a price tag called companionship and she was swimming in debt.

She had never been part of a ‘we’. There is no ‘me’ in ‘team’ but her upside-down world turned it into an anagram for her; so that she happily ate chicken while riding solo.

There were empty spaces in between her fingers that yearned for foreign skin to fill the gaps. Her books had no roses in between them. She used the ticket stub of the first movie she went to all by herself to mark the pages of her favourite book. She complained about her mundane days to the songbirds. She wrote a letter about her victories and mailed it to the Sun.

The air was cold when she was abandoned on the edge of a cliff by someone she once gave her heart to. She wrapped herself in a blanket of soon to be forgotten memories of October skies and wrote a love poem to the wind. Winter kept her warm.

She met only a few others who threatened to spill their charm into her cupped palms. She drank in just one. His eyes were mossy and she slipped, heels over head. They spoke a language no one else understood, a perfect syzygy. They met in uncharted lands, in between the dust of faraway memories. They froze time with their words and painted the lilies red. A bubbling fountain of joy and whispered promises erupted in their lungs and spread into their stomachs. They waltzed together, bare feet on the grass in the moonlight. But when morning came, he was gone. She watched her heart flutter in the wind — like a crumpled piece of paper on which she once wrote a half-baked rhyme and threw away without a second glance.

Now, she walks alone on foreign shores. She slathers her thirsty skin with a manufactured limerence. She falls in love with two dimensional people who have other names in the three dimensional world. She pines for a boy she once saw at the grocery store. She falls for words that lose all meaning when their speaker swipes left. She shops online for butterflies in her belly. She develops feelings for every moving creature, every static figurine with a human face and the heart of a machine.

Her worst enemy is the girl who greets her in the mirror. She talks about her nemesis to her best friend, who wears her skin and shares her brain. They stay in on weekends and read together. They sleep in on Sundays and watch the same animated movie she has been watching since she was seven.

Time was a slow-action poison; but time healed her incurable cancer. She wanted to be a part of someone but she also wants to be apart from someone.

She loves being alone; but she hates being lonely.

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