The Days of Heartache

Issue no. 2: matters of the heart
arlene bae reich


On Day One of heartache, I wrap my swollen eyes with a t-shirt you left behind, waiting for the smell of you to fade into the smell of me. Day One is a dull ache with no end.

On Day Two, I lock myself in the company bathroom, until my legs fall asleep and the floor collapses beneath me. That night, I whisper goodnight to your imprint in the mattress, and get no response. On Day Three, I force myself to eat, and the food lines my guts like wet cement. I roam in broad circles beneath pink autumn skies. I am an untethered balloon.

On Day Four, there was so much I want to share with you from Days One, Two, and Three. I had nailed time to the ceiling on a day in October. I want to know if you are sleeping, and how your family is, and I want you to know that I see your love in everything.

On Day Five, I seek the advice of 37 wise women. It is said that there is no single divine recipe for healing. So, I do it all: borrow the books, prepare the bath, drink the wine, allow myself to be swallowed up in warm, grasping arms.

I have let the bitter salt spill from me, and fall to the soil where it plants my memories. They are my heart’s currency. I pluck them, one by one, to make a crown, and my elders smile upon me. I have thought of you for exactly one minute less each day, and inside the soft clarity of each of those minutes, my heart comes back to itself.