This is the fallout.

This is the part where the light dims to gray and you finally see the ashes left behind from the explosion. This is the part where the sorrow kicks in like a wave crashing over you and your knees go weak and your legs stop holding you up and you collapse into the surf. And you'll swallow your self-loathing and you'll apologize for things you barely remember and you'll promise yourself that you'll never let it control you again (and you'll know that it's a lie).

(It's a lie because the explosion is just too bright, you do so much and you love so much and you smile so much that it almost -- almost -- makes this part worth it. Nothing will ever quite make it worth it, but you think that if anything could, oh, but that rush of euphoria could make hell bearable.

If only, if only, if only the fire burned as clean as it does hot, if only it left no ash in its wake.)

This is the part where you pick apart the bones of those you've destroyed and try to breathe life back into them. This is the part where you cry. This is the part where you scream, where all the emotions coalesce into one single, horrible instant and you don't know the difference between happy and sad, rage and joy. This is the part where the tide draws out to sea and leaves you breathless, exhausted, alone with nothing but your bones for company (and you've heard all their stories a thousand times before).

This is the fallout. This is the disease.

This is what you can't express, what you can't tell anyone, what you wish they could realize by just looking at you but what would cease to have meaning if you said it aloud. This is the reason; this is what you refuse to allow to become the excuse.

This is where up crashes into down and leaves you torn apart in its wake.

You'll take another deep breath and pretend, for a while, that you're still on the amphetamine high, that you haven't come down because the high is better than the low and you're desperate to hold off the next downswing for just -- a -- little -- longer --

(Just a little longer, you pray, and stop believing in gods again.)