Her eyes cracked open, revealing a slit of darkness. Everything hurt: her head, throbbing with every beat of her heart; her lungs, aching with every breath she took; her stomach, tightening from the bitter taste in her mouth. Every muscle in her body was sore, causing her to fear even miniscule movement.

The room was dark, cold. A shiver passed through her, jerking her body. Her muscles burned as if they had been set alight. A scream wrenched itself from her throat, animalistic to her own ears. She wanted to fight, yet she couldn’t move. Her fear, the fear of more pain, paralyzed her, trapping her in the fetal position.

The memories had beaten her down, broken her. She had become what she feared most: weak, vulnerable, and alone. A shell of her former self.

Pathetic. Worthless. Unlovable.

But then, she saw it. There, in the dark, a bright silhouette. It grew brighter as it reached out to her, enveloping her. Warmth radiated around her, healing her.

The burning in her muscles changed, suddenly soothing. The fist in her stomach released as a sweetness filled her mouth. She could breathe again, better than she ever had. The throbbing in her head ceased as she began to float, dreamlike, above the floor.

Overwhelming joy settled over her like a blanket straight out of the dryer. She had never felt so happy, not once in her life. It was rare, pure, almost too good to be true. She couldn’t believe it. Wrapped in such warmth, she thought, “This is it. This is what I’ve been searching for my whole life.”

In the blink of an eye, a shaft of light stabbed through her, straight into her heart.

Pain surged through her chest, radiating out like a wave crashing against the coastline. The light twisted, dislodging her heart. It slowly exited her chest, taking her heart as it departed. Her body fell to the floor, the light slowly disappearing from the room.

She stared at the space where he had been, gasping, struggling for air. The room was cold, colder than before. White clouds formed and evaporated with every exhale. Ice began creeping its way up her skin, threatening to freeze her.

Slowly, as her final breaths left her freezing lungs, she got to her knees. Part of her knew he would return. He had taken her heart, after all. One day, he would bring it back.

As the ice coated her skin, she placed her hands over the hole in her chest. They froze there, shielding the hole. As the ice glazed over her mouth, a name passed her lips. His name.

It lingered in the air, echoing, repeating like a mantra. As it faded away, so did she, leaving her body encased in an icy tomb.