Note: The title comes from a song that I'm sure all of you know by Gotye, called "Somebody That I Used To Know", but the story is 100% mine. It was once again time to put Tamara through a fresh hell of her own making, by which I mean I went through hell lately and I want to make myself suffer in literary form, too. Sorry, Tamara. Time to be laid bare.
Primary Character: Tamara Riddle

You Can Get Addicted to a Certain Kind of Sadness

Sometimes it's hard to remember that she's gone. There are moments when she hears her laughter dancing on the breeze or feels her breath at her side, and in those moments she fights so hard to remind herself that these notions are merely memories — no more than fanciful desires her mind has conjured up to keep her company in the times of her deepest loneliness.

A glance to the side easily dispels the residual expectation to find her standing there awaiting her attention, but if she closes her eyes to the reality, perhaps the bird by the window can let her pretend a moment longer that she isn't slowly forgetting the sound of her voice after only so long. But when reality crashes down on her at the end of these self-indulgent moments, without fail she feels another sliver of what remains of her heart fracturing and splintering off to crumble to so much dust at the hands of time.

When she first died left, her shadow was everywhere. Tamara could see it rushing to the other side of her when she glanced back, but when she looked to the other side, it was rushing the opposite way. Her shape was in the tree outside the window, her profile in the curtain of the shower if the light hit just right. Once she nearly had a heart attack when the shadow followed her to her car one night.

They had been so close in age, and still so young. They had shared so many secrets, jokes, hobbies, ideas, and memories. When it was all suddenly ripped away one night in December, it was little wonder that she found it difficult sometimes to accept that she was gone.

Whatever insight the fallen girl had, whatever spark of determination and joy and laughter that may have fought to linger, had been snuffed out that night, and Tamara, ignorant of the plight and the last seconds that faded into the black oblivion, had not known until the next day. Bitter regret and resentment filled the redhead at that, and her arms went to wrap around her to fend off the imaginary chill.

If she had been more attentive, more in-tune with her, more observant, perhaps more insistent on what she knew was right, would this have been avoided? Could she have fought away the clutches of that sleepy death's touch for a while longer?

Uncertainty tainted her worldview so much these days, hand in hand with paranoia, that she was lost as to what she should believe. One side of her assured her with soothing words that she could have never known, but the more malicious and judgmental side of her whispered venomous reminders of where she had failed and how those failures connected to her losses.

Hands grasped at her hair as she began to slowly curl in on herself. The tears she fought were beginning to fight back for a path to the surface, heedless of her pleas to be left in what modicum of peace she could find. Now, in the throes of a mourning that seemed as endless as this silent loneliness felt, she felt yet a new uncertainty reveal itself. That closest of friends, unhappiness, was it beginning to caress these halls again? Was regret bound to creep into the crevices of every aspect of those losses and consume her inside out?

She felt so certain the first loss so long ago had cut the deepest, at an age before she knew what such emotions truly were and, as such, before she could put an accurate name to them. She had felt it acutely in the same way as one feels a gunshot wound, but she had been so woefully undeveloped that she knew not what to call it.

Later she realized, when confronted with revelations given light, what name belonged to them. She had sealed it away behind her lips as sacred but also as a thing never to speak again, afraid that it would desecrate the sanctity of their meaning to be used for any others. While she mourned, she had locked those feelings up tightly to be carefully admired in her own time, quietly. Dreams had haunted and taunted her ever since, the last vestiges of her crumbling stability slipping out from under her even years later as her garden began to spring up around her and was slowly filled with life.

A small, jaded part of Tamara reminded her that a garden filled with death cannot be filled with life, but try though she may to walk away from the recurring visuals, she found herself clinging to the false joy and happiness it offered to her aching heart and soul. Over time, their garden began to shift and change and grow with every encounter, flourishing and fading in ebbs and tides as she aged and encountered new blessings and then losses.

Most recently, however, her garden had gained one more shadowy feature, and it threw her into a whirlwind of confusion. Had she let her guard down so much with her that the vigil she kept was no longer protecting the ghost of the spark she held so dear?

Now the tears did begin to pour, hot and filled with a phantom pain she thought she had let go of so long ago. Her throat quivered, and out came a cracked whine that dissolved into whimpering as she fought to remain silent. Silence was painful but familiar, and in a time when her world was shuddering and swaying on its foundation, she needed the familiarity of the uncomfortable silence as opposed to the foreign and dangerous noise of that stage of grief she had rejected for so long in favor of retaining these feelings and memories.

This sadness, she realized belatedly, was addictive. It felt good to feel bad, to hurt in such a deep and untouchable way. In that warped joy she could take solace that she would remember where her mortal mind was wont to forget or discard it after a time. It was with this thought that she slowly allowed the weighty black ache of her soul to seep out and embrace her, giving in to the tears for the first time in years. When she drifted off to sleep, exhausted and miserable, the peace and solitude of her dream garden greeted her once more to soothe the pain and begin the cycle anew.