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A couch for two. A ratty old couch, with an aging floral print, swimming in lint and tattered pillows. A couch for two. You’re both tired from walking: these long bookshelves have made you weary. Sit for a while.

A couch for two, and no more. You’ll sit close, but only by necessity. You’re only friends. Isn’t that what she said? “Can we just be friends?” Didn’t she puncture those words with falling tears? Didn’t you kiss her then, in her most vulnerable moment, what you felt so sure would be the last?

There have lately been signs. Brief touchings of skin, filling just enough of a moment to be doubted an accident: a flash, a bright moment of true and naked emotion, flaring for a single heartbeat and then quenched in the cold rational water beside love’s iron forge, crystallized in its infant form, a tiny memento of a future denied out of fear.

Your world is shrinking. All that attract your attention now are the girl, the couch, and the shelves nearby. And the latter are slowly diminishing in your sight, for in this sudden society of two the taboo on hand-holding has silently fallen away.

Time, too, has lost its gaudy throne in your mind. You may in fact wake hours later, as though from a dream, to find the two of you beautifully knotted and curled as a Mobius strip: no discernable beginning or end. You may kiss her neck, put your face to its warm crook and hum

Something in the way she knows,
And all I have to do is think of her
Something in the things she shows me
I don't wanna leave her now
You know I believe and how

And you will hope that she knows you intend these words not in quote marks, not someone else’s, but as coming directly from your own heart, that when you say ‘her’ you mean ‘you,’ and she will go mmm, and smile and when you look out from this couch for two you will see curious pairs of eyes passing by, trying not to stare, pairs of eyes looking in on this separate and alien world of ad hoc love.

Because that is what this is: love. Neither of you will say it, but this is as real as it gets, folks. The store closes at 9:00, but that is meaningless now. You have broken into a new and temporary world, contrary to the existing order. You have stepped in a rain puddle and fallen into the center of the world. You have found love on a couch for two.