10 months. She finds herself pressed up against one of the many walls of the subway station, watching masses of people exit the doors out to the street, while others made their way down into the subway below street level. Sheep, she thinks to herself in horror. They are all sheep being shepherded by societal norms and expectations and I am one of them. The first panic attack of many sets in.
9 months. Exams. A million sheets of paper scattered across a desk in a vain attempt to study the material, but to no avail. Her brain is useless amidst her anxious thoughts, unable to turn the neatly typed words across the ivory sheets to longterm memory, solid and memorable facts. She can’t help but wonder what the point of trying is anymore.
8 months. She met him a few weeks ago. He’s cute, kind of. Something sweet, something insightful, something…dismissive too, though. But she’s been sad and anxious and empty for too long now and without him even realizing it, he’s trying to fill her void. She can appreciate that.
7 months. Their first kiss. She sees these days with him as something fun; a good way to spend her time, a nice person to fill the emptiness with. Maybe, she thinks, she’s even setting herself up for a lesson to be learned. She tells herself that whatever he may be in the long run, he’s perfect for the value he brings her these days.
6 months. He tells her that he fears the end of summer and that things will become difficult for them when they move to different cities. She promises him that it won’t. In the back of her mind though, she thinks that it might, but she pushes those pestilent thoughts down alongside the feeling of falling in love.
5 months. Crisp autumn air, suppressed feelings. You would never know, but she doubts every single good thing every single day. She knows it’s only a matter of time before it all falls apart. But she smiles all the time, and you would never know.
4 months. She hides her sighs of relief as each introduction to a new friend of his is met with approval, and when each introduction she makes to him with her closest friends are met the same. At the end of the month, they have matching costumes, and even though she’d always thought that doing this was kind of lame, she thinks it’s a great idea with him. She realizes that she’s actually in love, and that terrifies her a bit.
3 months. They dance across the back room of a rented banquet hall, so caught up in their own bubble that they fail to see their friends watching on from the corners. All they see are her awkward steps and his guiding movements. To them, it’s his laughter, her curled hair falling across his arm as she rests her head on his shoulder. It’s the curiosity that maybe this is more real than they both anticipated, that this relationship means more than they thought it would. As they step across the laminated parquet floor, they both believe that what they have going on right now could maybe withstand anything.
2 months. Entire days spent under layers of blankets while the snow flutters to the sidewalks just outside their front door. Skin against skin. Lips against lips. Movies rolling on the television, the screen’s light flickering against the walls of the blackened room and softly illuminating their faces as they lay intertwined, more enraptured with one another than the movie before them. She knows that this was what love really feels like and would be content spending the rest of the winter curled next to him.
1 month. A kiss at midnight, a flute of pale pink champagne coating their throats. On the first day of the new year, he tells her that he is happy as long as she is with him. She finally allows herself to settle into the routine of being his, and of him being hers: grocery shopping, friends’ birthdays, take-out. It is absolutely tantalizing, the thought of how such ordinary things could seem so wonderful with the right person. That it could feel so…at home.
0 months. Time ran out; he hesitated for a moment, then left her behind.