Cover Photo: A textured illustration of two women facing one another in front of an open road and blue sky. One woman's face goes up in blue flames.
Illustration by Sirin Thada for Catapult

How My Fear of Loss Became a Fear of Fire

On some level, we all know: Everyone who is etched into our being will one day vanish.

, Did I blow out the candle? Did I turn off my stove? Did I leave something burning?

Personal Shopper, The Clouds of Sils Maria,

Cancer. Now

Personal ShopperIt’s so nice out!—


She is going to leave us. One day, this will become part of our accepted narrative; Karen died young. How did I not see this before? she



Just preparing you—it’s going to get worse. Wait, we’re planning your ?

So this is how it’s going to be

Personal Shopper

It’s, Suzie

Personal Shopper,

Personal Shopper

It hurts like hell until I pass out. When I wake up, I am in the nurse’s office and see a wad of bloody paper towels. Dizzy, I have no idea that my first kiss is weeks away.


Oh, we are running out of time

Personal Shopper,

Whatever. I’m not even New York

Hilarious. Karen, are you loving this absurdity?

Comprehend this, Suzie. She is gone. She is really gone. This is what you needed.


Personal ShopperLife as you know it is over.


Suzanne Guillette is a writer and intuitive. She is the author of Much to Your Chagrin: A Memoir of Embarrassment (Atria, 2009) and Battle Dress: What I Wore to Confront My Past (Kindle Single, 2017). She created, produced, and performed in Moving For You, a short movement-based film on the power of empathy and human connection. Her work has appeared in Tin House, O Magazine, the Rumpus, goop, and elsewhere. To learn more about her work, visit You can also find her on Instagram at @suzieguillette.