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Edge

February 12, 2016

Was it the edge of the ocean, or the edge of something smaller? All she knew is she could see a broken version herself reflected just past where the water lapped her feet. She could not fathom how far it might be to the other side, or how deep the water might descend along the way.

Even so, she breathed in deeply, then stepped into the water. It would take too long to go around. She would have to swim as long as she could, and hope, at the end of it all, she had reached the other side.

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Worst case scenario

February 10, 2016

No matter how rare the worst case scenario, she thought about it all the time, her brain constantly inventing scenarios so horrible she could not even whisper them aloud.

Does it make you more grateful when things turn out OK? he asked.

No, she said, thinking about the buzzing nausea that flooded her system most days, leaving her twitchy and damp. Even then, she was poised to duck under the table to evade shots fired from an automatic weapon, the blast from a suicide bomber in a bulky vest, the debris falling as a tornado tore the building apart.

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Empty cup

February 8, 2016

Before the sun came up, he slipped into the coffee shop and spotted the empty cup on the table. Is this yours? he asked, making sure to try to make eye contact with everyone within earshot, making himself noticed, yet remaining just invisible enough.

I shook my head, and he swept the cup into his arms, which were already full with a bottle of water, some toiletries, an extra shirt. He disappeared into the bathroom for awhile, then emerged, changed and ready for a free refill.

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European

February 6, 2016

For a moment, she thought he had written a date far in the future. Then she remembered he was European.

It had been this way since the start—she had not expected there to be so many ways in which she would have to reset her thinking just to align their cultures. Perhaps I’m naive, she told her friend. I just thought he would be like all the other guys, but with an accent.

Her friend laughed, then chuckled a bit more gently. It’s not so important that he give you what you expect, the friend said. It’s far more important that he give you what you need.

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Dawn walk

February 4, 2016

At dawn, they wandered back home through the mist-loved woods and along a rutted path. They had past the point of asking questions, were already entwining their silences. He thought about holding her hand, but decided it wasn’t necessary, yet. She already knew he wanted to touch her.

It seems odd to be ending things as everyone else is just getting started with their day, she said.

I think you have it backward, he said. This, here, is just the beginning.

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Stay awhile

February 2, 2016

What they had was each other, there where earth and sky intersected, with the clouds laid before them like the softest picnic blanket. They knew they’d have the stars and moon later, but then, it was just them, unaccompanied. They were alone together, finally, and even the feel of the air on their skin was new.

We should never leave this spot, she said, and he agreed with the biggest part of his heart. It had taken them so long to climb the narrow path to get there, and he was prepared to stay awhile.

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Furies

January 28, 2016

Gape-mouthed furies drove him to it, their screeching-howling cacophony eclipsing his thoughts. As their voices swelled, even walking across the room became impossible—he could not hear the sound of his feet against the floor.

Later, after they found him, people told stories about what might have happened. No one could have known the truth of it. No one could have imagined the open mouths, the sunken eyes, the noises that crossed every boundary his brain had ever constructed against darkness and terror.