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She should be feeling. She knows she should be feeling. All that she’s feeling, however, is nothing.

It happens sometimes: the first time she woke up to nothing, she had just been kicked out of her house. The second time had been the next day, the third the day after that, and the day after that… that pattern continued for weeks, she’s not sure how long. Alyssa woke her up from it. Alyssa woke her up from all of them.

Now that they live together, when she wakes up feeling this way she can usually just roll over and tell her fiancée how she’s feeling.

Sometimes she’s not there. When she’s not there, she has to call in sick. She pulls herself out of bed and goes through the motions of personal hygiene, getting dressed and brushing her teeth. She then sits on the couch, tv playing something she can’t pay attention to, and lets time pass as she neglects to register the light changing.

This is what happens today. She rolled over, but Alyssa’s side was long cold. After laying there for an indeterminate amount of time, she finally stirred and started the process. She shower water was was as hot as it normally was, but it didn’t feel as comforting as normally. It was just water, hitting her skin in a regular pattern. She put no effort into her outfit: the first pants and shirt she grabbed will have to do, no matter if they’re sweatpants and a fancy shirt. It’s not like she can feel enough to care. The tv turned on to whatever streaming service they used last night and autoplayed some show or another, but she barely remembered pressing the button.

It’s not until the door to their apartment opens that she realizes time passed.

“Oh, you’re home before me?” She forces herself to turn around at the surprised tone of her fiancée, but can’t even muster up a smile to greet her. Alyssa must immediately realize something’s off, because her face shifts from pleasant surprise to loving concern. “What is it?”

It takes until Alyssa reaches the couch and grabbing her hand for her to muster the strength to speak. “Nothing.”

When she can roll over and feel her, Alyssa always rubs feeling back into her body first, while whispering little phrases like “you’re here, you’re real, I love you, I feel you” into her ear. When she feels her body again, Alyssa switches tactics and starts talking about her own feelings, trying to make her remember how to feel them herself. It does work, and eventually she can function like a normal human being.

It’s the same way when she has to wait, if a little longer, and no different today than any other time. Alyssa’s thumb rubs little circles into her hand, and she quickly starts up a stream of little phrases.

The two of them go through the motions, and she eventually comes back into her body and mind. Gratitude and love are the first things she feels, and she shows this by gently giving her fiancée a kiss.

“Feeling better?”

“Definitely. Welcome home.”