but the minutes don't stop. the prayers of going nowhere, going nowhere.

Here is a story about family.

A girl with a bag slung over her shoulder. A mother holding a baby. You made my husband leave me and you can't even let me keep this baby. I messed up with you and you won't even let me try again. The girl turns, the door slams, the house is very still and silent. The weather has started to go cold. It starts snowing. The girl keeps walking, going nowhere, going nowhere.

The baby starts crying and the world gets loud again.

Everything is blue. The baby's blanket, the sky above the gravestone, the veins on her wrist as she squeezes her hands together. She kicks dirt on the inscription in polished ash. She hates him more than she hates anything, and she thought it was so hard to hate someone more than she hated herself.

She's crying because she doesn't know what else to feel, and this seems normal, this seems right, crying at her father's grave. She's never been good at feeling the right things.

She remembers the first time like it was yesterday.

She knelt before him, a worshiper to a god, listening to his little, tiny gasps, the echoes in the back of his throat, the sharp intakes of breath. It was the closest thing to love she'd ever known.

The story ends and begins. The burst of wet heat in her mouth like a firework. She smiles at him, good and pretty, and he looks at her like he's looking right through her.

"You're amazing," he lies, and she almost forgets not to believe.

She forgot to take money when she left, so she blows the man working the counter at the motel six miles outside the city, and he hands her a key and doesn't look at her again. She is running from something but it seems like she walked in circles.

She plugs her phone into the bedside outlet, watches Lip's name flash incessantly next to a mounting pile of missed calls.

She stares around the room, the off-yellow paint, the bed still harboring faded stains, tucks her knees to her chest and breathes into the gap between them. Everything is quiet, deafeningly so, and she doesn't manage to sleep, just listens to her breathing until she falls into the half-way place between consciousness and sleep, a compromise of wakefulness.

She doesn't even cry.

This is a story about love.

He holds her hand, curls his fingers into the spaces between hers, presses his thumb to the inside of her palm and traces secrets there. He does things like kiss her cheek, brush the hair out of her eyes, trail his fingertips along the line of her jaw. It feels like love, but she's only known love to be a warm dick in her. Anything feels like love.

"You're amazing," he says, and he thinks he's telling the truth, and she forgets that she shouldn't believe him.

But it's a secret, the real truth, the things he isn't feeling. She listens to his heartbeat as he falls asleep, stuck to him with sweat, and prays it doesn't go away.

I don't want it, get it away from me, it's ugly and it's wrong and it's nothing to me. She doesn't understand why they won't take it away. She's tried so hard to dehumanize it, keeps naming it with non-definitive pronouns. It's not my baby. It's not anything to me.

The delivery room is crowded with strangers. They all look at her like she's done something to be sorry for.

It's not mine, it's not yours. It's not anything. She wants him to understand that. He looks at her like he's looking right through her and his eyes go dark and angry and his footsteps down the hall thud in her ears.

A story about war.

A girl and her mother at the park. A rusty swing-set that creaks when you fly too high. Daddy goes down the slide with her.

Ten years later and daddy is walking out the door, and mommy is crying, and the girl is screaming because she doesn't know how to keep it in anymore. The window shatters. The world gets bigger.

A girl and her mother in an empty house. The prayers at the dinner table halfhearted, mumbled, not even a staple anymore. The dinners quiet and the television loud. Her mother blames her, but doesn't say so. She blames her mother but doesn't say so.

There's no such thing as telling the truth.

The man behind the counter at the motel tells her she has to leave.

The prayer of going nowhere. Lip's name on her missed calls. She keeps walking.

So the secret, the truth, the thing he should've felt a long time ago. She's not special; she's an anomaly. She's not a figure, she's a prayer, a hope that bleeds out but never gets answered. She would fall asleep listening to the sounds of his breath, inhaling and exhaling deep in his lungs, and she would hope that he never discovered it, he'd stay in that blissful ignorance forever.

But, the truth: a selfish, angry girl, too angry to love anything, to feel anything else. A force of nature only in her own recklessness.

He felt everything. He whispered, "I love you," and she gripped the tiny hairs on the back of his neck and felt nothing else. No pain, no sorrow. Just this. The simplest thing in the world.

The only love she'd ever felt.

Going nowhere, going nowhere.