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The clock struck midnight and she was gone.
There was no spark of light, no crackle in the air, not a single silver shoe left behind.
She had simply vanished- vanished, not dead- when just the second before, she had lived. Her arms had hung limply at her side, breath held in, eyes fixed firmly on the clock as it ticked, closer, closer.
And I was there, in the very place that she’d relinquished, breathing in the air that had whooshed out of her lungs, feeling the phantom touch of her, tingling.
Sparks of guilt and anger flaring up, uncalled for and unwelcome.
I felt like a snake slipped out of its skin; pristine in a way that is distinctly unpleasant, the knowledge of my own transience clouding the loss of my former skin.
You are reborn, renewed, they would say. Replaced is more like it.
She was gone, and I had never met her, never seen her. And yet, I knew her, like no else ever had.
She was a memory as faint as a song in a dream, a certain inexplicable sorrow accompanying it.
If I pictured her, it would only be as a bright unravelling spool of colour that hung from the cusp of recollection, fleeing away into the wind at the slightest threat of capture, tangling in the smatter of stars ahead.
And she would never return now, her time here was over. Over. That grandiose thought, the utter finality of it, it scared me. I had taken her place. And I would follow.
The longest hand of the clock reached twelve, and I was a minute old.
I had just twenty-three hours and fifty-nine minutes left.
I wonder if the one after me would remember.