they are building a house on my chest

by a contributor

Isabelle Davis

(we create metaphors of death and dying to symbolize love as if people cannot survive on their own. we are self indulgent and dramatic and over the top. we are telling the truth the only way we know how.)

when I’m with her I line up our inhales and exhales perfectly. she knows I do this but not how much it matters. breathing becomes simple again. I feel alive again. she keeps me far away from metaphorical death and dying. it’s when I’m far away from her that I start to believe. I’m no longer convinced that little men aren’t carefully stacking bricks on my chest. I squeeze my eyes shut as tight as possible and I can almost imagine her hand wrapped around my waist but not quite. someone tells a funny joke I try to relay to her but doesn’t quite translate over text and so then we both feel stupid. we sit in silence on the phone and I struggle to hear what I can’t feel—but the line doesn’t pick up the delicate in/out of her lungs. the construction workers pick up their pace.

the foundation has always been set in me. good and bad have never been simple. I am not the only one who notices this but sometimes I feel like it. some things that make people cry make different people laugh and some things make people both laugh and cry. I guess I could have seen this as beautiful but it mostly just made me see most things as uncertain. that’s the foundation I built my life around—my soul around. it started in my chest so that’s where they lay the bricks. every day every hour every minute every second away from her means that more bricks collect on top of my lungs. they press down. hard.

it symbolizes suffocation. I know because it’s my metaphor. breathing becomes the hardest thing in the world without her. but then she touches my face or moves a piece of my hair back or hugs me and the house blows away. she barely blinks on it and that force disintegrates the bricks into nothingness because she is everything.

tom hanks forgot how to breathe when his wife died in sleepless in seattle. on my tenth birthday I watched that movie and cried the whole way through because god, did those people know how to love. getting oxygen to the brain is one of the most basic functions. synchronizing intrinsic actions becomes the most important thing to me. it breaks the foundation of uncertainty I’ve spent so long harboring in me. when she falls asleep the pattern changes and I have to adjust but that’s okay.

Isabelle Davis still has plastic glow-in-the-dark stars hanging on her ceiling. She worked as a writer and Columns Editor for Pacemaker winner Niles West News and currently edits for The Lawrentian. Her work has appeared in Dirty Chai and Wes Anderzine. She is currently pursuing a Creative Writing degree. You can find her on twitter @isa13itch.