Brian was by her bed when she woke from what felt like days of nothingness.

"You're awake," he said simply, sitting up in the small chair that could barely support his build. Her eyes felt crusty and her vision was blurred, but she could see that he looked scruffy. His hollow appearance was accentuated by his five o'clock shadow and the bags underneath his eyes.

"Yeah. I am."

"Aren't you going to ask about the baby?"

The ward was stifling with the smell of disinfectant, and the walls were a flashy reflective white. Everything made her want to hide under the covers and resume her sleeping, her lack of feeling. She twiddled with the edge of her blanket. Ignored his question—an answer in itself.

"I'm so tired, Brian. I know I was the one who wanted to keep the baby, but it would've been bad for me either way."

Brian was quiet. He rubbed his chin with one hand and nodded, all the while avoiding eye contact with the woman he had spent a decade by and a night with. Thinking that neither of them would have known such a thing could have happened. Thinking about what a mistake it was.

"Life has never gone easy on me," she said, chuckling to herself, her eyes burning and moist. It seemed like she was wallowing in self-pity, but she didn't care.

"I'd worked so hard for things I didn't and would never have, and lost so much along the way with nothing waiting for me at the end. It felt like I was racing against time, and I was, but all I want is for time to lose shape. To be gone. To release me."

"I'm sorry," he apologised. Like her predicament, her place in life, was his fault. 

Hell is a destination to many, but to her, hell was a process.

Hell was an undertaking to the sweet release from mortality, from the time and space that held her captive.

Published by Cherrie L