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“Can I have all the waves in the ocean?”

We didn’t know then, but it had been there. More like a subtle shift, something that wasn’t supposed to change anything, yet ended up changing everything. It was too late, we couldn’t stop it in time. It started slowly, carefully.

We didn’t talk about it, the change in the light.

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“How about all the stars in the sky?”

I still wonder what wishes did you pay with those coins. Did they become true? I hope they were beautiful. Mine were half-true, strayed among the cracks of how it had to be and what we made of it. But long before, long ago, I first stole a wish upon the moon.

The fountain remembered, so this is what the water gave me.

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“Can I have all the knowledge in the world?”

Time sways between sleep and awake. I step into the balcony, looking over the summer sky, searching. I can’t find you here. You’re misplaced everywhere. Maybe you’re already far away in some distant land and I simply don’t know where should I start looking for you.

Here or there, like walking forward just to go back.

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“Can I have you?”

I wrote a final letter to you. It’s hidden in the deepest corner of my desk, right next to the postcards I never sent. Ghosts from another life, from what might have been. A letter without address, flooded by drawings of a city underwater, somewhere safe.

Tucked away, where the memories cannot follow.

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“Where will you be the next time it rains?”

All it takes is an accidental look around. Shining fragments on the shelf that turn into moments and objects. Slow walks through the park or rainy nights on a coach. Warm coffee for two. My red scarf, the gray coat; your old backpack, the borrowed jacket. A couple of train tickets.

All but you, the only real thing I ever touched.

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“Will you forget me, and moments like these, when we’re at different points of the compass?”

Dreams of you come to me sometimes. They’re just like before, like always: I find my way back, I make you laugh and you hold me tight, tighter, so maybe, for a little longer, for a while, I stay. Hours in repeat and days soon to be months go by, but in my head and in my heart, I never left.

And in my dreams, we’re always together.

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“Even if you forget, the rain will forever remind me of you.”

I’ve never hugged anyone like that and no one has ever hugged me like that before. So much for so long. Our arms were frantic, your fingertips seconds away from slipping through mine into the faces in the crowd. I said I was leaving half my heart with you and you had to let me go.

I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to leave you.

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“I know it isn’t the stars on the sea, but it’s the best I could do.”

You chose a different ending for that book. Both of our names branded on the last page, the rest filled with photographs of a journey you made just for me. Short lived, told in fewer words and felt through parallel worlds. A story that could be ours, about us, for us, between us.

Perhaps, of how it began with a handwritten question about the universe.

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“I’ll see you tonight in dreamland, will you meet me there? Tonight and every other until I see you again.”

It was supposed to be winter. Christmas lights splintering dying trees across the street, snowflakes and multicolor sparks if we had any luck. It would have been so cold, like a fulfilled promise, at last. Our stillborn possibility, right there as the barest touch, out of reach.

But there is no going back for us, is there?

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“I thought the stars were in the ocean and I’d fall into the sky, and never stop.”

I just have to write it once and you just need to read it: handmade gifts and secret book stores, me on a plane last fall and lost mail post from a cold beach. You never had to ask. Even if words escaped me the one time you did, my answer has always been yes, too. Everything, anything.

Now you know. This is the last secret.

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