At six months, it was still hard to believe. I bought an extra bottle to mark the half year, stayed up through dawn and opened the photo albums as the last of the second bottle dropped into my glass. The buzz was never the same anymore, it took more to forget. I started with one of the less threatening albums, the great white lace wedding album still shelved away securely. It was covered in dust, but even my occasional need to clean couldn’t overcome the sickening thudding in my chest that came with the sight of it.
The pages were stuck together, I pried them open slowly – swallowing and breathing deeply. The pictures were a heartbreaking splash of colour against the dull grey grain of the floor. The figures contained inside so full of life, vibrance, so different to how I last saw her. The amateurish photography almost seemed to highlight the living, a snap of elbow here – a motion-blurred laugh. The perfect imperfection of an unexpected shot, caught unposed and carefree.
She was so perfect.
I traced my fingers across the pages, lingering over her face, shuddering as I struggled to remember the warmth of her skin. The sound of her voice. My chest tightened, leaving me gasping for breath. Kicking the photo album across the kitchen floor, I leaned backwards, gripping one of the cupboard handles for support. The pain was like knives to my chest, each one stronger and longer lasting that the previous. I grit my teeth and waited until it was over.
I blacked out before the pain stopped.