She would have scrubbed her skin raw had the sight of blood not reminded her that she was not a hollow word, not an endless joke.
She was tangible flesh attached to bones that somehow still managed to hold her head high, still managed to carry her weight as if her accumulated baggage were composed of nothing but feathers. Laughter still died under her gaze.
She was tired, exhausted, on the verge of breaking to the point of a return that would be damaging, destructive, to her nurturing personality upon which the world laid its foundations. The bitterness made itself obvious, its roots spreading and tangling at a speed that had her beating records yet to be settled.
Shiraz had become overwhelming sweet on her tongue, tasting of too good to be true, of it’s me not you, of deja-vu, that had her walking barefoot down a memory lane of broken glass that had once grasped time as sand.
It had slipped through her fingers, it all.
She had cried her soul into begging for mercy, for life, and yet the infinitesimal grains had refused to come together under her tears, afraid of suffocating under the immensity of salt flavored of abandonment.
She was dry. She was done.
The thought of slapping her, perhaps even throwing in a punch, right there, here, where she had not so long ago begged her not to leave, to stay, in front of the whole ward, did cross her mind. It was tempting, intoxicating even. Her muscles ached with yearning, her fingertips burned with a desire of finding skin upon which to carve truths that would otherwise remain unspoken.
She waited though. She waited until she walked into her office, their office.
"When you left, I needed you." Serena started as the door closed behind the blonde whose posture remained that of a soldier ready to face war. Oh, but this wasn’t a war, there is nothing personal about war and this, them, was the epitome of personal.
“I am not going to lie, I want you. Oh God, how I want you.” She carried on, biting hard on her lower lip after voicing the desire that would have otherwise clouded what she had to say next. “But that is something I can live without.” She concluded, her eyes finally coming up to meet Bernie’s. “I’ve got months, years, of practice under my belt.”
"Serena..." Oh, the breathless tone Serena had swooned over, the hint of a guttural longing that would have brought her to her knees had she been the woman holding the extensive wine list, the promise of an intimate dinner under a candle that had become ashes before even meeting the flame…
Don’t you dare, Serena Campbell, don’t you dare allowing her to conquer your whole kingdom as if it was nothing but ruins.
“Don't say it like you own it. Don't say it like it's the only name you've ever known. Don’t say it like I was born to come out of your mouth.”
Or else I will falter.
“You lost the right, Bernie. You fucked up."
"Don’t think for a moment that I stopped loving you.” Serena resumed as Bernie’s eyes sought the comforting existence of the floor as the first tear defied the self-control that had knuckles white in clenched fists. “I do, I love you beyond words, beyond reason even.” She sighed before standing up and taking a step closer to the blonde. “But I also love, and very much respect, myself.” She took hold of both hands and squeezed them until the other woman broke down sobbing.
"You had, you have, every right to your time and your space, but distance is a two-edged sword, Bernie." She pulled the convulsing body to hers and Bernie clung to her as if her life depended on it. “You will be okay.”