The Silent Itch of a Missing Leg

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All day, she'd stare at the wall.

Zachary had never told her what he did, and she still didn't know. The police had returned to her with increasingly uncomfortable looks on their faces, like they were scared, and then they regretfully closed their investigation. Some more men, whom she didn't know, had come round to her house, but she didn't remember very much about that. Life just seemed to be an endless parade of men telling her that they were very sorry but that they knew best and she should just forget about him.

He wasn't dead. She was sure of that. He wasn't the kind of person who'd just die. She had dreams about him, sometimes; he'd stand there, trying to say something, failing. Then he'd smile, and chuckle, and she'd wake up trying not to cry.

She knew all the cliches about what people are meant to feel; that they turn to someone and they're not there, or that they start talking, or that the house feels empty, but she didn't get any of that. There was just this constant, growing, gnawing sense like she'd fallen out of a train, or like the scene of a play had ended but her character was still on the stage. It wasn't right.

More men came to the house. They seemed increasingly intense. They wanted to know something, but she couldn't remember what. There was a problem, or a mystery. They were very interested in her dreams, but one of them later told her it was a dead end. "But he's not dead", she wanted to say, but she never did. Their expressions were wild. She didn't really do wild.

Claire and Simone took her out drinking. They'd half-ironically, half-sincerely make the kind of comments, cheers, sarcastic jibes you'd see among women in second-rate romcoms. But they were just moments, designed to be seen as natural but feeling like a ritual. All she wanted to do was go home, turn off all the sound and noise, and listen to the rushing of cars.

Everyone urged her to move on. Nobody wanted her to remember him. He's dead, he's a liar, probably has a second family in the North, we're all so sorry, it must be really hard for you, please stop looking at the wall, my condolences, sympathies, don't you think it's time you should be moving on now, get out there, see what the scene is like, you can't stay here forever, he wouldn't want you to act like this, come on now, come on, stop staring at the fucking-

He'd never smiled properly. He'd always just twitched the corner of his mouth up, like an inside joke.

She'd place her face to the wall, and almost, almost feel him. She didn't know where he was. She didn't know what the hell he was doing, but she knew, she knew, that he was thinking of her.

She'd never see him again.

At night, she could almost hear him whisper.

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