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in sickness and in health, i do, i do

Artwork by Isabelle Lu, staff artist

in sickness and in health, i do, i do

it’s not that i don’t love you.

it’s the sound of the gun

cracking and echoing into the night as

my dad pulled the trigger. when the car rolled out of the garage for the last time,

my mom’s heart flopped in a sea of red, bleeding on the lawn.

when he left her, a part of her died,

replaced by empty gazes and broken vodka bottles.

it’s the sight of the chalky pills on the counter

and my sister lying on the floor of the bathroom.

later in the hospital, crying, she told me that he didn’t love her anymore.

even when i closed my eyes that night,

i could still see her eerie smile behind my closed eyelids.

it’s the sight of my best friend, the strongest girl i know,

collapsing on the floor of the bathroom,

sobbing and choking and clutching at her chest,

her red-rimmed eyes broken, gasping that

he’ll never love her, that she was always second best.

it’s that i can’t forget the sight of my aunt’s empty eyes

the day of my uncle’s funeral.

i swear i could hear the sound of her heart cracking—

or maybe it was the rain.

shortly after, she died from what the doctors said was a heart condition—

of a love that kills.

it’s not that i don’t love you.

it’s that, despite it all-- the trigger firing, the medicine bottles--

i’m pushing myself and running down halls

just to see you for a moment and pray silently that we can exchange a few words

and that you just might smile. it’s not that i don’t love you.

it’s that, despite it all,

i do.

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