I start off every night holding my pillow. I clutch it so tightly, like if I give even a little, if I let go, then all these emotions I'm holding in will just let loose and I won't ever get them back. It's silly, I know. My pillow isn't him, and won't ever be, and I'll never hold him so tightly in my arms like that. I'm cursed with permanent haptephobia -- fear of contact. Isolated.

Isolated, like some kind of human island. Dear God, I'm so alone! And I know he's there -- it isn't that he doesn't care. Or anyone else, for that matter. They're all *there*, and they take pity on this poor tortured sould. I'm as human as they are -- I don't need pity. I don't need to be cried over. I can take care of myself.

Most of the time. I think.

I swallow, laying there in my bed, and try to blink back tears that inevitably form in the darkness of my room. This awful emotion -- lonliness -- tears open some kind of rift in my heart -- a greater divide than I thought I could ever even imagine -- and I need to know that he's *really* there. If I could just reach out and -- -- and -- and sense that he was there, like some kind of telepath searching for a psi-signature. No -- no, I'm no telepath. That's not -- that's not who I am. And I'm hardly normal. Life would be so much easier if I were just normal! But my whole existence has been like some kind of sick cosmic joke. And I'm not laughing.

It's late. Too late. And I can't sleep. I'm still holding my pillow, and it's getting wet. I wrap myself around it, wishing it was him, praying that I could only feel his arms around me, too. Tight -- tighter -- tighter --

Love is a curious thing. I want to believe I love him, but it's hard because he's gone. Would I still think these thoughts if he were here? Would he still carve his presence into my heart to the point where it ached as badly as it does now? Sometimes I think I wouldn't know love if it slapped me in the face. But I still want it -- I still want him here -- I still want to be loved. It's such an elusive emotion, ready to bring both joy and pain. Now it hurts more than ever.

And I know it wouldn't be any different if he were actually here. This loneliness would still cut my heart up -- even if he were to stand before me, surprising me with his long-awaited return, I would remain this terrible, terrible suffering island, with no means of expressing all I feel. And God knows I feel so much -- I've bottled everything up over the last year, and I can't take it anymore.

I want to be able to fall asleep, but these thoughts keep spinning in my head and won't let go. It's probably for the better -- sleep brings dreams. I know they're just dreams. There's no truth to them, they're only a way of manifesting my unconscious fears. I don't want to hurt anyone. I never wanted to hurt anyone. But I have hurt people. And I know I'll continue to hurt people, much as I want it all to stop. I put up barriers -- physically and emotionally -- to keep other people out, because I don't want to hurt them. And I hear his voice ringing in my head, as though he might be speaking to me, truly here -- "All you do is lock yourself in -- it don' keep no one out." And I know he's right, much as I hate to admit it. I don't want to admit it. I'm so scared.

I wish my pillow were warm and soft like flesh. I wish it would melt into skin and muscle and bone beneath my hands -- but my hands only bring pain. Loss. Death. I'm destructive. I don't leave anything. I want to die.

But I don't want to die alone. And this part of me -- yes, it's a part of me as much as anything else -- this part of me won't allow anything but this terrible loneliness.

I don't want to fall asleep. I worry what images might fill my head and plague my psyche as I innocently sleep -- no, not innocently. I'm so far from innocent. But this guilt is hardly mine -- much as I should accept it as my own. I don't know anymore. Life got so confusing so fast.

I need to feel your touch.

I don't want to hurt you.

Every morning my pillow winds up on the floor.

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