“Love is Funny”: An Étoile Original by Annie Honebrink

I remember the way it felt the first time.
I remember the way each breath was shimmery and each heart beat held its breath waiting for the next pulse. I was afraid the moment would end — afraid the giddy beat inside my chest would disappear. I remember standing on the ledge, staring longingly at the thousands of dreams inside my heart, wanting so badly to jump. I was afraid to fall. Hearts can’t break if you never let them go.

I remember shaking on the bathroom floor.
I rocked back and forth with my knees pulled into my chest, arms crossed, fingernails digging into my elbows, gripping to keep myself from falling further. The sobs came from someplace inside that I didn’t even know existed. My sweat smelled like fear. I rocked myself into a fitful sleep on the hard, cold bathroom floor. I don’t know what was sleep and what was awake. The world crumbled apart, and I desperately scrambled to hold the pieces together. I had jumped, and now I was falling, drowning, suffocating.

My heart couldn’t let go — wouldn’t let go. I was Despair. I remember playing pretend and hiding the breaking, putting up the walls. Fake smiles and false laughs. I was slipping — far far away, and I didn’t know if I wanted to return. Loss is loneliness. It is a bottomless pit. I didn’t tell anyone — just sat in the pit alone. The bitterness was acid. Once upon a time my heart sang, and I jumped. I dreamed of flying. I felt the fluttery first kiss. I saw Forever. I hoped. I soared. Now the colorless pit was endless. Eternal. Alone. I clutched my stomach, gripping at invisible wounds.

Love is funny. It can make you light and fluttery. The world looks bright and is full of possibility. It doesn’t matter how many times you hear the warning strings stirring your heart and pulling you away from the ledge — love makes you jump. Love is funny. It can send you to your knees. The world is sobbing and aching. It doesn’t matter how many people tell you you will be okay — love is a knife in the stomach. There is no mercy. It knocks the wind out of you. Love is in those aching moments when all hope has flooded from your soul. Love makes you fall.

My heart is shimmery again. I realize that love can be soft and peaceful and safe. My heart can race and my insides can quiver and my breath can get caught in my chest without fear. He holds onto my heart, not gripping it; and I hold onto his, not clinging to it. I begin to realize that there is much more inside me to be unlocked. I begin to realize that there is much more inside me to give.

Love is Funny initially appeared in Romeo + Juliet’s issue of Étoile in September 2018.