Life Sentence

She saw her life as a long sentence broken up by commas in just the right places, like after her first day of school, the day her dog died, her first kiss, graduating high school, dropping out of uni, the first time she cried in front of a stranger; each clause seemed to carry on to the next without stopping, though sometimes there would be an exclamation mark like when she saw the bus crash into the building (!) or when her parents split up (!) and somehow in between all of that the fully-capitalised, colossal HIM slipped into her life like an outrageous interrobang, but before she knew it there was an ellipsis in the middle that felt so empty … and then she was wrenched apart and left with a kind of heart-brokenness that was ! and ? at the same time – but not together – so she took up painting with watercolours, won a local art show, gave up talking to her father, saw her first shooting star; she discovered that an ellipsis didn’t have to mean empty forgotten space but could be packed with wonder until she was ready to reach a full stop.