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  • Tracy Broemmer

Chaste

You bleed dark crimson. Your blood has stained my hands. They’ve whisked you away to stitch the gaping hole in your side, but they leave mine to bleed. As always, in your life, I am left standing and waiting. I am left with just the crimson trace of your heart in my hands. Blood is caked under my fingernails, and rust-colored blood has dried on the bottom of the silver band I wear, which is just another cruel joke that for me has never been funny.


They don’t know that if I could lay these hands on you, I could heal you by force of will. Instead, professionals work to patch you up, as if any of them could need you to survive this as desperately as I do. Someone calls her to be with you, and I stand in the corner of the room and weep and pray to your God, whom I’ve never been sure I believe in.

No one knows that when you hurt, I bleed. I die a thousand deaths as I wait for your God to hear me. From far away, I hear voices, and I realize suddenly that someone is talking to me. When I look up, familiar faces swim in front of my eyes. They want to comfort me. They don’t know that my wound is fatal, even if yours can be fixed. I look away even as they pull me against their solid bodies and hold me. Though mostly I love them all, they are no comfort to me. Being in their arms, when I need so much to be inside your soul the way you are in mine, is like spreading my fingers open over a warm fire but needing to hurl myself into the flames to remember heat.


I am empty. I have bled dry, and the hollowness inside me has sucked all the tears away. Crying for you now is whispering across the country to talk to a long-lost sibling. They tell me you have stabilized, and though I am relieved to hear this, it does little to touch my heartache. Someone suggests I clean up, but I refuse. They think that I fear leaving you; that if I slip away for a moment, death might charge in and steal you from me. As much as it would hurt me, you are not mine for death to steal from. I fear your death everyday; a fear much greater than the fear of my own death. When I go, I can let you go. If you’re taken before me, I have to learn to live without the smallest piece of your life that is mine.


No, it’s not fear that makes me hesitate to leave you and clean up. With your blood on my hands, a part of you is mine. She has your ring, your name, and your children. I have your blood on my hands; your life blood stains my hands, and I loathe to wash it away. I have your back everyday, and I have your life. I take that charge to heart. It is an awesome responsibility, and I am honored to carry out that duty every time we step outside the squad room.


But I am a woman, and I am jealous, and I am so possessive of the smallest pieces of you that I have. Your blood on my hands is like a piece of your heart. If I close my eyes, I can see your heart beating inside my protective hands, and I know this is a part of you that your wife can never hold.


They tell me now you are asking for me. Twice, you have asked where I am, if I’m okay. Twice, you have asked for me. Your name has been on my lips to your God for what feels like an eternity. Your wife touches my hand as I steel myself to talk to you. If I walk into your room without taking this moment, my heart will be in my eyes, and you will know without question that I am desperately in love with you. I couldn’t bear it if you ever had a glimpse inside my heart. You belong to her, and I am destined to walk a step behind, alone. I know there is no one that I could love so deeply; therefore, I am content to suffer the heartache of loving a married man.


You are propped up against a pillow. Your face is ashen white. But your blue eyes are warm and electric as I near your bedside. Your smile falters as you see your blood on my hands.


That hollow place inside me breaks, and suddenly there are tears in my eyes and too much emotion in my throat. You say my name, but I can’t answer you.


Instead I take your hand and lean over and press a chaste kiss to your lips, the lips I have tasted many nights in my dreams.


With that, I leave your room, and I go home. Alone. And I shower and wash your blood away.


Once again, I push my love for you so far deep inside that it will take another emergency—a knife or a gun—to cut me open and make me bleed.


~

I wrote this many, many years ago. It was a fan fiction piece, and those of you who know me can guess what the fandom was. There have never been names in this piece, so I'm not going to name the fandom now. I entered this in a writing contest many, many years ago. It was awarded an honorable mention. #bleed #heartache #unrequitedlove #married #partners #chaste #kiss #hospitalbed #waitingroom


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