she says, "my chest hurts", and it does--
an ache that begins deep in the muscle,
sort of off to the side,
and she presses her hands into herself, doubled over, and sits.
"I'm just going to wait it out, you guys have fun," and she watches the dancing
from the sidelines, in her chest this hot, heavy weight
she spent all afternoon in emerg,
where they did everything
(x-rays and blood work and someone hooked her up to a monitor and they watched her heart beating regularly, like, well, like a heartbeat) but they learned nothing, they said it was nothing
and they sent her home
but the truth is,
the one she didn't share with them
is that her boyfriend
her great, galumphing boyfriend,
the one who'd taken her grandmother for lunch, the one who held her purse when she used public washrooms, the one who filled her freezer with ice cream that time she fought with her sister, the one who would bite the back of her neck at just the right time
he'd left her
"i just don't think i'm ready to commit", he'd said, as though committing were a choice, as though committing weren't something he'd been doing since the first night he'd gotten her number and said, "I'll call you" and then he called.
"after four years", she whispers and the ache in her chest expands, the heat of it fills her up and pushes up her throat and fills up her mouth, her eyes, until it is streaming out of her in gasps, in tears, and the rest of them keep dancing while her hands, pressed to her pain, try but fail to keep it all inside...