it is dark outside, and cold, so cold. i lie alone, shivering, curled into a tiny ball, clenching my eyelids shut, trying to keep the encroaching velvet blackness out and the warm tears in. warm, almost comforting, but nobody feels them but myself as one escapes, runs off my eyelashes and pools by my earlobe. i touch the damp emotion with my finger, stop the niggling tickle, and wish i could sleep, a few hours' respite from the ache that permeates my bones. i turn, and drive another shard of the jagged mass into soft tissue, and convulse. another tear joins the first, makes it a little further before settling, quivering, until i wipe it away. in my mind i call out, hoping somebody hears me, for once desperately wanting to believe, just to have someone to heal the scar.

not even my scar, but i cry in empathy, as if the mind that feels it most acutely is overflowing its pain straight into my core. i hope that somehow the knotted little clump of hell i feel helps her to bear hers more easily, though i know it is almost unbearable. i am cast back to an earlier time, when i felt the pain for myself, and scream silently, screwing up my eyes further, squeezing out another hot tear, which burns like acid as it follows its path down my cheek. i must be thankful that i managed to leave that behind me, and move on, if shakily, gradually cutting through the thread, strand by strand, that tied me to that time, though the after-image left burned on me after i closed my eyes, all that time ago, still remains.

opening my eyes again now, i find another fiery figure is etching its form on my soul, but this time i know i must steel myself, shield myself and her from the burning pain that forms and reforms, like boiling mercury.

i know that the issue is not to make sure that i do not lose her, but that we do not lose her; for, even if we never smile and laugh together as we once did, i have not truly lost her as long as she is held back from the inferno's edge. that is most important, not just for me, but for everyone who would forever miss a part of their being in a world without her.

the pain lifts momentarily, a warmth finally reaches me in the nest i pull up around my bare shoulders, and i give it a name: hope. but already a cold draught sneaks in to erode the new feeling, and i cry again.

i have a purpose.