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I found this. I found this in our closet, with all the dreams I had to put away before the fire of your pain.

I remember this for the first time.

We stood on that cliff by the gorge for hours. Do you remember? Do you remember how the sun hit your hair beside the water, and the way that you reached for me whenever my footing faltered? Keeping me safe like you always said you would?

We found the little path, just out of the way, and -- in an act that was completely out of keeping with our scared little shared personality -- took it. We followed it down to the place where it no longer ran parallel with the city street and where the trees kept it quiet but for the rush of water. It was a new land. It was a new sun.

We climbed and we rose, we followed rocky steps along a narrow edge covered in green. We sat overlooking the waters and you kissed me, and we dreamed our days might always be like this.

They weren’t.

We did not know where the path might lead and were stunned when we found ourselves miles from the place where we’d started, in another corner of town amidst new sounds and bakeries. You bought me ice cream and we walked back home in the light of an orange sunset more fiery than the sun when it set on our life together some months later. We watched the warmth and we felt it, and we made believe that we both were well; we went to bed, snuggled close, and you left in the first sight of morning.

I found this. I found this in a photograph. I found this where I buried it, with all the other sights of you that I can remember believing I loved. It feels good after all this time; almost as good as when it happened -- back when we stood close and kept each other safe, instead of watching from a distance, pretending we do not still have the power to crumble each other with a word.

It feels good to remember that my staying as long as I did wasn’t always a sign of my weakness. That sometimes it was a sign of all the good days before the fire, and all the wonder of a single sunny day spent laughing in the face of impending disaster. That sometimes I miss you in spite of myself. That you were beautiful before you terrible, and that that’s what I’ve forgotten most of all.

... That one sunny day you were beautiful.

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