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He said he almost always had nightmares when he slept over at her place. And that he’d wake up in the middle of the night and see her sleeping next to him, and realizing everything was okay, drift to sleep again.

They wore her blanket down until it was in tatters, the cottony stuffing exposed, sticking out in soft tufts and pulling away from the rest of the thing. When she woke up and he was still asleep, she’d get bored and pull at the tufts. She made snowy peaks rise from the surface. She watched them move gently up and down as he continued to sleep, continued to breathe, his chest rising and falling to a steady beat.

He had a way of reminding her of the rare, exquisite things that she lives for, the weird things that surpass reality. He could bring her out of any kind of gloom, even the indelible sadness of feeling unwanted. And he had a way of showing up with the most delightful surprises, like he did today, without notice but with a wild pink flower in his right fist, mud and roots still attached.

And now she’d seen him again, her friend, and it was happy, seeing him again, right outside her door, that half-smile of his on his drunken face. Worried he might get sick, she gave him some tonic and vitamins. She didn’t have any Pocari Sweat for him; she knew he liked it but she didn’t and never had any at home.

He smelled like alcohol and joy. She gave warmbug a hug and sent him on his way. After all, he was just a tunnel and bridge away.

——

A fortune teller once told me,
“Stay silent and you’ll regret it.”
Except Fortune Teller didn’t know
that I don’t regret
that I don’t believe in mistakes

Fortune came
with a weird boy on New Year’s Eve
He was in black, I was in blue
He could feel me

In the company of old friends
Fortune came
bringing warm, sweaty cheer under its arms
a celebration of something or other
We didn’t understand

And on the drunken countdown
I lit his sparkler and mine
He held my drink, she smiled at us
I wished for what I wanted

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(modified from the Nov 2012 original published on another blog)

Why would I do that? she whispered to him.

He chuckled and said nothing.

She traced the prism patterns underneath them, triangle upon triangle, reds, plums, blues stitched together. The little flowers along the edges had faded and a long rip ran along the top, the part she always tugged on when she was cold. Safety pins held it together.

As she snuggled into his shoulder, a breath escaped his nostrils, landing in warmth on top of her head.

She giggled.

What?

The sun’s tickling me.

——

His stare, the clarity of his eyes shining through, is burned into my memory. The steady, concentrated gaze ensnared me; his whole being and energy seemed to pour from those eyes, and I froze, self-aware and mesmerized, small under the magnifying glass of a much greater person.

With such men, you tumble down the rabbit hole of their single-minded tunnel vision because you trust and feel safe in their confidence and absolute surety that you should be together. And so you fall, and you scrape your knees, and you fall again. You’re bleeding, but you don’t feel any pain. You keep on running beside him.

You float gently in the naiveté of his answers, his childlike inability to describe just what he feels in the face of something astonishing and never before experienced. You play pretend every time you meet, in places where it’s forbidden, because pretend is so much better than real. You venture into smoky, black forests and confront the scary monsters you locked up when you were a kid, because how could anything hurt you when you’re with him?

And so you keep on discovering and conquering like two brave warriors until you reach a crossroads and you don’t know why but you know you have to part. There, you recognize each other’s vulnerabilities and see them not as weak, unattractive, frightful things, but something to protect. Something precious. And for that, if nothing else, you love him.

——