One, Two

“Hey,” One said to Two, quietly. “You okay?” Two’s lip quivered. She shook her head and shuddered. One sat down next to Two. “Tell me.”

Two sniffed. “I’m already burnt out on life.” She tried to smile, like it was a joke, but then she shuddered again. “Like, it’ll be going well, and then I’ll think I’m doing an okay job of… of, well, everything…” She took a gasping breath, “and then it’s like I’m doing it wrong, but it wasn’t wrong before, and–” she leaned against One and cried. 

One wanted to say, you’re okay, and you’ll be fine, but she knew Two wouldn’t hear her right now.

“It’s forever!” Two said, suddenly. “My whole life is my whole life, and it’s forever.” She laughed a bit, only slightly bitterly. “I mean, of course it is.” She took quavery breaths. “I’m tired of figuring things out, and the further I get it’s like, the harder it gets. Everyone says,” her voice cracked, “they say, just you wait, so it gets worse, I guess. I know… I know I’ll be fine in a minute, but it’s like I can feel everything.” She sat up straight, and looked One in the eye. “Everything is sitting on my shoulders, everything is echoing in my ears, everything is rising in my throat.” She gestured at each body part in turn, letting her fingers linger on her neck, which was constricted with restrained sobs. “It hurts,” she said. “It hurts so, so very much.” She buried her face in One’s shoulder again.

“I’m sorry,” One whispered.

“Why does it feel like that?” Two asked.

“I don’t know.” One was sad. “I don’t have it, so I don’t know.” She rubbed Two’s back. “Whatever it is.”

Two’s voice was muffled by One’s shoulder, as she cried, “I want it to stop, but the stop button is broken.”

One wanted Two to feel better; Two wanted One to help her feel better. They sat together, Two’s tears soaking through One’s shirt. They both felt the deep, deep pain of the knowledge of the futility of mere wants.

“You’ll be okay in a minute. You always are,” One reminded Two, finally. It was all she really could say.

Two sat up, and wiped her eyes. Frustrated, she said, “I know.”

One patted Two’s shoulder. “So it isn’t forever. It’s just parts of forever.”

“…Yes.”

“Which isn’t forever,” One pointed out.

Two giggled through her tears. “Well, yeah! Like, by definition!” One also laughed, quietly. She squeezed Two’s shoulder.

How did they go from tears to laughter so fast? What was it that was so very wrong? What was it that made it suddenly alright again?

A shrug. I don’t know; I’m just the narrator. I’m limited on my abilities to peer into the minds of those whose stories I tell. But, I think maybe they didn’t know either. Maybe no one ever knows. Maybe that’s just life, and that’s how it goes. Maybe it is something a bit like waves in the ocean: In and out, up and down, back and forth… forever.

word count: 516 words

I’d like to thank my mom, for keeping this story when I first scribbled it down in a fit of depressive artistry.