And that was it. She disappeared out of his life and left him broken. The dull ache in his chest and the emptiness that held it in place throbbed endlessly. When the centre of your world disappears, everything comes crashing down in a jumble of pain and blurred vision. The smallest thing becomes meaningless, and so does the largest thing. It reminds you that you're fragile, a shell that's filled with a soul. No matter how strong you are, or how resilient you've spent your life being, losing the love of your life destroys you. It gets into every cell, every muscle and every fibre of who you are and unglues the seams.
What's left at the end of that isn't a person. It's a pair of eyes staring at the world, its automatic pilot for a pale face and a head of empty thoughts. How do you come back from that? You need rescuing before you go past rock bottom. You need someone to take your hand and lead you back down the path towards normal life. A builder, who can help you put the walls back up and cover the cracks in your foundation.
He never found that person. That person would have been her, was her. People like that don't queue up on the periphery waiting for you to need them. You meet one or two in a lifetime and your job is to not let them go. When you do loose them, you're on your own. After that the sails have gone, and the lights grow dim. You can press fast forward and watch the world go by in a dream as you sink slowly into the ground.
The people around you don't seem to notice this happening. It's like falling off a cliff in slow motion. Before you know it you're past the point of no return, hands can't reach you and gravity takes over. The small changes go unnoticed, but every little step adds up. It doesn't matter how slowly or quickly it happens, the end result is the same.
The illusion is that the image of you is still there, stood where it was. You haven't actually moved at all. What falls off is the real you, the bit that counts, the part that people don't see. Only you can see it, or more accurately you feel it.
He felt it, and years later the space the little paper cut out left was still just as sharp around the edges.