She awoke with a fragile heart, lashes fluttering in the darkness, bleary and still sleep-eyed. Her chest felt hollow, broken, and fragile in so many ways. Her tongue dry, throat raw, eyes burning with the sting of so many tears. She slid out of the bed, placing her feet on the hardwood floor, swaying some before catching her balance.

Her body felt heavy, as if she were covered with a lead apron as she walked to her bedroom door. Everything around her seemed to move slowly and almost backward. If only time really could move backwards.

Her heart throbbed in her chest, broken. A constant reminder of the night’s events. A reminder that she would rather be dead then opening her bedroom door and heading to the bathroom to begin her normal morning routine. Nothing felt normal anymore. It all felt as if it were upside down, as if she were walking on the ceiling, weighted to it by agony and despair.

She opened the shower curtain, turning the water on and trying to ignore the burning, aching feeling in her chest. She had so much to do today, so many things that she didn’t even want to start. Work, school, volunteer work, meetings, friends…friends. Her heart ached in her chest and tears sprung in her eyes. She clutched at the fabric of her shirt and whimpered.

Friends. The word played in her head as a harsh whisper, over and over again. Her heart pounded and bile rose up in her throat, constricting, choking.

Five months had passed. Five whole months and she still held onto the idea, the fantasy, the lies he fed her. Since June she had thought they were still in love. Truly, madly, deeply because that was how he lead her. But by September she knew that love wasn’t real. Five years of love still inhabited her heart, pouring out in beautiful words and promises that he ignored.

Yet, he still lied to her until September. He still used her, manipulated her into being so broken she went to someone unlikely for comfort, companionship, friendship. And she found it in one night of desperation. A 41 minute phone call full of tears and hiccups and apologies.

But she still loved him, without conditions and freely. His lies, manipulations, and broken promises didn’t change what was in her heart as much as she needed it to. How could she possibly love someone who lied, cheated and left her broken in so many different ways. Apparently, just to make her happy and keep her begging, loneliness and childishness at bay. Hidden behind his comfort and humanity.

“I was just doing you a favor,” he whispers, so harsh he’s almost spitting it, “I don’t love you.”

And she falls again, cutting deep and broken standing beneath the hot water of she shower. She tries to shake the feeling, rising in her stomach, her chest, from her lips, but it escapes in five damned words.

“I will always love you.”