There she goes again.
Walking past me with that flat-lined expression and hunched shoulders. When’s the last time she smiled without a cigarette? When’s the last time she asked herself why she’s here?
Nothing ever changes with her. Her movement, the way her arms rarely join her legs, the way one shoulder is always higher than the other, it’s almost robotic. I try to say hello, but she doesn’t hear me. Her thoughts are elsewhere. Joining her breath, I pause. Can she even see me? I wish she would see what I see. The tension, the loss, the lines of misery. Everything is so clear to me. She needs to take a break, but she’s not even sure how. Her body has been in this state of wreckage for so long the tension has become muscle memory. She can’t let go! She holds this team together. But does she? Her stress has already infected the masses and everyone is sick to the core because of her. “What is life without work?”, she asks me one day. Before I have time to respond, she beats me to it with a quiet, “nothing”.
Why does she think like this, I wonder. Where is the answer? Did her dad call her lazy as a child or did her mom never show up for her? Why does her value stem from her work when her work brings her nothing but a weak paycheck? If I could shake her shoulders without screaming, I would. I would take hold of her, look her straight in the face and say, “You are enough. You don’t need to be here to prove it.”
But would this bring any change in her?
Her pain is rooted far beyond what I can see and there’s no accessing it. She might as well be a walking corpse because I can’t bring her back to life. Only she can. And it tears me apart knowing that her stress is spreading and there is nothing I can do about it.
All I can do is hope and wait till tomorrow when I see her in the mirror again with that flat-lined expression and give her a smile.