I see you running through the corridors of my mind. Quick flashes of a dark pigtail turning the corner, a swish of a green dress, an infectious giggle that echoes and fades into the emptiness before it registers. You're both there and not there. I've learned the hard way not to chase you. You're too fast, unencumbered by body. I can't keep up and I often just end up missing you more. My darling girl who only grows inside my mind, I can merely imagine who you would be. A spunky toddler quick on her feet with a wide, toothy smile and hair as sleek as a raven's wing. I try to imagine more, but every missing piece serves only to slice my heart. I want to give you a life full of detail, but I can't. You are a ghost running through the abandoned places of my mind. You are my empty space.
Loving you is like trying to hold smoke. I feel your heat in the absence of fire. You fill my lungs. And I am sometimes so filled with you, I can't breathe. My hands are rough and gritty from soot, but you are not here. Only remnants of you. Only flashes of what should have been - flickering through my thoughts like a broken filmstrip. I hear you whisper my name and I lean in, searching my brain for traces of you. For your entire life, we shared the same space in the universe, and sometimes my heart forgets to beat without you. And in that skip, that jump of irregularity, I feel you. That is your home - that pause between beats - miniscule and infinite at the same time. That gap where you grow up in flickers and flashes. You are my empty space.
You are the hesitation between the question "Is she your first?" and my response. You are my moment of readjustment when I see two sisters walking together, the brief shimmering of a tear I don't let go. You are the seconds of darkness before I fall asleep and the fuzzy grayness of the world as I am waking up. You are the rise between inhale and exhale, and the dip between the reverse. You are the moments before the moments. Always and forever. You are my empty space.