And she’ll never get used to it.
There is a distinct smell and a distinct feel and a distinct light and she’ll never get used to it.
Natasha taps a single finger against the glass window and decides not to look behind her back because there’s a shell in that bed, there’s just skin, bones, and muscle.
Natasha swallows and stares at the window in front of her and at the dark hall under her eyes that seemingly extends into forever. The air tastes stale, and bleak, and black.
Neon lights flicker and in the world that spins without her there’s even doctors and nurses and their
teammates. But it’s something just out of her grasp.
There is a patina of numbness that clouds her vision and chokes her thoughts. There is a patina of guilt that makes breathing a little too hard and adds uncomfortable pressure to where her heart is supposed to be.
But she cannot blame herself, right now. Blaming herself so soon would bring to madness, and slipping, and crashing to the ground in a turmoil of fire, blood and tears.
And burning would mean splitting although she doesn’t know it yet: and she couldn’t possibly afford that.
Too much has already been taken.
Natasha bites her tongue and cracks her knuckles.
The quietness, like everything else, looms just on the edge of her ears, so different from the ring of battle that crashed through her skull mere hours before. So different, and so desperately painful.
She wishes she could fill this silence. Wishes, deeply, she could chase it away, rip it out of their lives, fill it with laughter and gunshots and arrows whizzing through the air.
She realizes soon enough that she cannot force a single words past her lips.
She can’t: they die, stillborn sentences floating in the amniotic liquid that is the oxygen in her throat. A natural abortion made of tears she will not allow herself to shed.
And she is fallible.
She is unable to control the currents, and the winds, and rain and sun. And she is unable to control this.
She wishes she could just pull the sheet over his face, shut the door, turn off the lights. Watch him get buried, not cremated (what difference one choice can make), and leave it all behind.
But she can’t, can she?
Because she’ll have to turn around, sooner or later. She shuts her eyes and presses a cheek and a hand against cold glass.
She feels nothing, and it doesn’t surprise her although it scares her: this is a different nothing from the one she’s used to.
The one she knows is made of the override of herself in favor of concentration and resistance to pain, to suffering, to exhaustion.
This one is made of the ripping out of a part of herself.
She is unmade, again.
She doesn’t have the pieces to build it all back.
The most important one is lying behind her on a spotless hospital bed, immobile, and she wonders why the doctors haven’t bothered with pulling out the tubes yet, and at least they cleaned the blood. But he isn’t moving, he never will, he isn’t breathing, it’s all her fault.
She sighs. The sound comes out all wrong, it breaks through her teeth and shatters against the suspended dust particles in the air.
An I’m sorry that will be never said. She wished the machines still beeped and whizzed.
But stars stopped falling long ago.
Natasha turns around before her knees give out, before she runs away, before she breaks herself.
Tears are wiped before they can be tasted.