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Numb -- fiction by Emily Sheng


“I’m sorry, but I don’t think our relationship is working. I’m breaking up with you.”

Surprisingly, there were no tears shed. I should have felt anger, sadness, shock. This had been a two year relationship after all. I should have been devastated. I should have been on my knees, breathing through a crushed heart, begging him to come back.

I should have stopped him from leaving.

But all I did was...nothing. All I felt was nothing. It was strange, for I am someone who finds enjoyment in the little things in life. I often find myself stopping at random bushes when walking, mesmerized by the clear drops of dew dripping off fresh spring leaves. Alas this time, it was as if a barrier had been erected around my mind. Nothing would get through, and nothing could get out.

I went home in deafening silence, as if there was a soundproof bubble that surrounded me and the background noise simply ceased to exist. Instead my ears ringed, the high frequency sending a pounding headache in my head. But just how I reacted to everything that had happened today, I ignored it.

I unlocked the door with stiff fingers and stepped into the dim hallway, remembering to place my shoes neatly by the doorway.

In my peripheral vision, I noticed a meal was boxed right at the counter with a sweet note stuck to the plastic lid. An empty laugh bubbled up my throat. Of course he would do that the day he decided to break up with me.

Of course he would.

I wanted to throw the food away out of spite. Just how he carelessly shattered the glass heart I entrusted to him. But my short circuiting mind cradled the box gently against my will and

carried it back to the dining table, opened the lid, grabbed a spoon, and mechanically shoved the contents into my mouth.

Bite

Chew

Swallow

Repeat

I repeated this mundane pattern until my utensil scraped the bottom. Only spots of grease and scraps of vegetables were left. I stared at the empty tin with vacant eyes. Curry fried rice with a bit of green chili peppers and sriracha for a tingle of heat. My favorite. At least it used to be.

“Hey babe, come try this new invention I made! Since you love spicy food, I made a spicy fried rice just for you! Check it out!”

I perked up, immediately distracted by the prospect of delicious food. I loved eating whatever my boyfriend made me, even if it was a burnt toast with an overcooked boiled egg on the side. Why? Because I love him.

I scampered towards the kitchen, salivating, eager to try his new creation. I was met with a cheery smile and a tantalizing spoon full of glistening curry covered rice grains, with a little touch of red for the desired spice. As the spoon tipped into my mouth, the savory, aromatic curry combined with the bright heat of green chilis and sriracha made my taste buds explode with flavor. I sighed in contentment, it was absolutely mouth watering.

“Isn’t it good?” He asked, eyes twinkling with excitement.

I didn’t give him a reply, as I was still shoving mouthfuls of rice into my cheeks.

He gave a chuckle of amusement at my behavior and proceeded to make another batch for himself as it was quite obvious I wasn’t going to stop eating anytime soon. It always made him happy to see me enjoying the food he cooked and he vowed to keep creating delicious recipes for me in the years to come.

Because he loved me.

If only I had known they were lies. All lies.

Only a bitter ashen taste coated my tongue and the roof of my mouth, the scent of chilis churned my stomach into a nauseating pit, instead of a comforting warmth. I scoffed. The derisive noise scraped out of my throat in a rasp.

What a joke.

It seemed like hours had flown by sitting at the dark dining table, gazing hollowly out the window. The sun had set, painting warm hues through the cool sky. The trees swayed gently in the spring breeze, the leaves whistling along for the ride. The faint outline of the moon was just barely visible to the human eye, but its glow was already beginning to emerge. A perfect fantasy ending to a heart wrenching day.

And so I sat, staring out the window, waiting absentmindedly for the last vestiges of numbness to fade away.

For my long overdue emotions to finally catch up.



Emily Sheng is currently a stressed high school student living in Palo Alto, California, running on three hours of sleep, and spends her days procrastinating on homework when she can. During the rare times where she’s not running on fumes, she is writing her day away, drawing flowers, and playing games with friends who don’t know what they’re doing. Because of her social anxiety, Emily this is her first publication and prefers to hole up like a hermit. But hopefully one day, she’ll come out of her shell.

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