every night, as some unholy, early hour, she would tiptoe through our house. tiptoe in a jacket and trainers and out the door. she would close it so softly, you couldn’t even hear the chain move, or the floorboards squeak. the only sign of her absence was the metallic cry of the rusty gate, that seemed to send its wails straight through my window. like it was telling me something was wrong. you could tell when she was home because there were two different sounds. one creak for the opening, and a painful clatter when it closed. she would walk for miles in the night. talking to strangers, baring a brave smile. a mile for every heart break. a step for every person who walked over her. her smile would be small when she left, waiting for the cool spring breeze in the young morning air, and non-existent when she returned. because the bed where she had held, and lay with, and kissed all her heart’s killers lay at the end of her journey. i’d ask if she was okay every time she left. she would say of course she was. i’d ask if she was okay when she got home, if i was still awake. she would say of course she wasn’t. she would crawl into bed beside me because her room was too empty, too hollow, too lonely. not enough light in the day, and not enough warmth at night. she would cry to me, and i would pretend i was as good as those loves. kiss her on the forehead, tell her she’d be okay, she’d get over them, they’d come back to her. i had heard her heart when it opened. so unused, so used to being closed that it creaked like our old gate, beneath my window. i thought a few times that i had heard it close with someone trapped inside, thought she’d made her bed with someone nice and lay down in it. that my bed would be empty for the rest of our lives as i kept my heart closed. but hers remained open. i never heard the crash of her heart closing. the gate was ripped off it’s hinges. her heart was in shreds and wouldn’t close. she had too much hope, too much room for when her first love returned. he never would, but she was open for the taking.