"I awake to find the saddest lump of shadow staring back from the wall. The sheets seem cold. I breathe in the smell of you not here and my carefully fumbled feelings."

Another poem from the Seattle transit buses. Credited on the bus to Melina Markland. Another piece that really struck me as poignant. This is likely the last short inspired by bus poetry. Enjoy…er, well, this is rather angsty so maybe that's not the right term…

Oh, and by the way, I don't own anything from The Mentalist.

Truth in Shadows

Patrick Jane's eyes opened and he stared into the darkness. As they adjusted to the lack of light, he could make out the barely-there outline of his shadow on the wall. He felt his heart lurch.

Five years ago, that outline would have been a little bigger, a little more convoluted—padded with the mass of two bodies rather than one. His wife wrapped in his arms.

Now, it was a solitary shadow, a sad lump that sat on the bed. He hated waking up. For a moment, he always forgot. He expected his wife to be there. The shadow opposite always shattered those expectations. At first he had tried to sleep at home, under the watchful eye of the malicious reminder of his family's death. But waking up proved too painful. It was almost like losing her, losing them, over and over again.

If only he could convince his sleeping self, his subconscious, to accept their deaths. Maybe then he wouldn't mind waking up. Maybe then he would be able to sleep, to kick this insomnia.

He had stopped using sheets, hating the coldness of them. Unfortunately, with the removal of the sheets, he could no longer delude himself that her scent was still lingering. Either way, he lost.

Every day, he lost.

And so he hardly slept. But on those rare nights, those rare occasions when slumber found him, it rattled him so much that he would rather go weeks without sleep.

He hated to wake up. And in his darkest hours—those spent at the institution—he hated it because he would rather sleep forever. Like his family.

He had taken to trying to sleep on the couch at work when his body decided it was too deprived to function any longer. He thought it would help. It truly startled him when he would awaken searching.

Not for the joint shadow of his body tangled with that of his wife's. Not trying to catch the lavender scent of her blond hair. But rather for the shadow against the blind's of his boss' office. For the wafting of a cinnamon-infused air.

And it confused him, scared him. He had only ever searched, yearned, for one other woman that way.

So he thought it was better that he was only ever greeted with that solitary shadow. Because that way, when he was gone (dead or imprisoned—even he didn't know which would be the outcome) no one else would have to go through what he experienced every time he woke up.

She wouldn't have to feel this way.

He didn't want her to wake up searching. He didn't want her to have to face a solitary shadow every time and know that there could be more, that there had been more.

His loneliness was nothing compared to hers.

And the day he realized that, he realized that a broken heart could still love. It just couldn't show it.