amulet

They met in a space that was small and close, empty of expectation but full of possibility. She assumed they were alone. But something about the way he glanced sideways, nervous, then leaned towards her--

"What is it?" She touched his top shirt button, then his chin, trying to draw his gaze back to her face. 

"Doesn't matter." His lopsided, reassuring smile. "I'm safe here. You're an amulet."

And she believed him.

But then time went on. And the thing, which had a name neither of them spoke aloud, kept creeping into this space of possibility. Sometimes she'd catch it in the periphery of her vision, waiting, watching, threatening. Sometimes she'd feel the weight of it on them, pressing down and pushing the air out of the room. Sometimes it tore through the moment as quick as lightning, burning her, branding her with tiny scars of unforgetting. 

The thing became a thief. It stole trust. It stole joy. It stole patience. And most unforgivably, it stole time. It stole every solid stone they stood on until they lay crumpled on the ground, unmoored. 

"I thought I was an amulet," she whispered, clinging tight, desperate and terrified the thing was going to rip him away forever. He shook his head; it was all he had the wherewithal to do. But she didn't know if that meant that she wasn't, and all was lost, or that she was, but it didn't matter, and all was lost anyway. She didn't know, and he couldn't say, and she was left unknowing if she had ever been anything close to enough.

And the unknowing was another tiny scar, too.