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The Same, But Different

She watches. In sorrow. In anger. In horror. With hope. With love.

She watches, unable to interact with her friends and family. Unable to touch anything or speak with a voice. Unable to be seen.

Unable to reach her children. To tell them that she loves them, that someone will always be there, to watch them grow and become. Unable to tell them that at least one of their parents are still alive. Well, as alive as she can be.

She exists, and at the same time, does not. She is a ghost, a shadow, a fractured soul who had lived and died, and at the same time, had done neither of those things. She is an anomaly, a glitch in reality. She is nowhere, and yet everywhere. She sees all and has the knowledge of eternity at her fingertips — and yet, she has nothing.

What good is omniscient knowledge, if you can do nothing with it? What is the promise of eternity, of life far out of death’s reach, if you are only an outside observer? If you are forbidden from truly living? Bound to nothing, forever a ghost that no one will ever be able to see or hear?

What is a life worth, when you are alone? Surrounded by people, yet unable to interact? What is death, when one has faced the void and won? When one is beyond immortality, beyond the cycle of life and death that all things should be bound to? What is a single tear to the vastness of reality? To a universe that does not care, cannot, because you were unmade by something the universe, the well of all that is and will be, cannot comprehend?

She does not know. And yet she understands. She understands and in that understanding is a pleasure and pain she cannot truly comprehend. No, that is a lie. She could comprehend, but she chooses not too. She fears what will happen when she accepts what happened — is happening —

She fears that if she were to accept her situation completely, if she were to acknowledge her power, then she would grow numb. That if she lets go of her remaining humanity, if she surrenders who she had been, in defiance of the rest of a reality that swears “no, you never were”, what will she be? Who will she become? Who will step out of her ashes and move forward?

She wonders if the madness of her dark prison will take over. What would she be like, if she surrendered her shred of sanity. That piece of her who remembers the feeling of her husbands hands, the laughter of her children. That piece of her who still is. It is a wonder she hasn’t grown mad already, after being alone, yet surrounded by those she loves.

She wonders if she would even recognize if she were insane. She feels no different than the day before, but how many days before had there been? A hundred, a thousand? How much solitude could the human take, before it broke? What had she been like, before her entrapment? Was she still the same? How could she tell, when there is no one to ask, to test herself beside?

Maybe it doesn’t matter. After all, she cannot escape. She can never return, she knows this. She can never be the person she was before.

She wonders what her life would have been like, if she had never been dragged here. To her endless void of nothing and everything. She does not remember how she came to be this way. All she remembers is heat, a bright light, a harsh sound. She remembers the glint of metal, the hum of machinery, and the thick fabric of her husband’s coat. A husband long dead. A face she can no longer remember the details of.

Had he suffered the same fate as her? Was he suffering as she was, just out of sight and reach? Another ghost, unable to reach even one as broken as them? She wishes she knew, but if that information is not available now, it never will be. Such is the nature of her existence/non-existence.

So instead, she watches. Her soul drowning in bittersweet knowledge. Weeping and cheering and hating and hoping.

She watches her sons growing. The seasons changing. She watches all she has ever loved, and ever will love, move on, without ever knowing she is there. Without remembering the warmth she had shared, the warmth she would have shared.

She watches. In sorrow, with hope. In anger, with love. In horror, clinging to the images of the people she loves, even as she resets her view, to watch it all over from the beginning.

She watches, knowing she will never be able to stop, no matter how much it hurts.

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