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Come on, you said, skipping ahead of me. Come on! And I followed, because that's what I did then. I followed you, everywhere. I was slower, then, bigger than you, weighed down, even as a child. There was lead in my head then, clogging my thoughts, while you seemed light as a balloon, and I remember looking at you with wonder, that you didn't just raise up your arms and soar. We hid ourselves in the grass, and you would show me things, things only you knew, and I never puzzled over how it was that you had such a vast knowledge when you had spent less time on this earth than me. You were golden and glowing and I was dark, heavy and eternally grateful. 

Look, you said, your nose close to the ground, watching a snake of ants doing their daily duties. Look at how hard they work, look at how much they carry. See? 

I looked at the hordes and thought of my dad, going off in the morning, back late at night, nothing much to me but a grunt at breakfast and a door slamming when I was in bed already. Nothing much to me but someone there on Saturdays, slouching around the house, shouting at her, ignoring me, throwing food to the dog. And that day, that morning, for the first time, I knew what it meant to be lonely and I reached my hand toward your hair. I reached out my hand and you shook your head so it swished and tickled my nose. Then you grabbed my hand and you put it somewhere else, and, in the grass, ants scattered furiously and indignantly beneath us. 

In the bar, your hair is short, almost cropped. You are the heavy one now, and I am thin from nerves, my anxiety eating away at me. I drink, and drink more and you, the seat buckling beneath your bulk, do all the talking. 

They split up, you say, trying to laugh, just after we moved. They did that to us, ripped us from our home, took us half way across the country, and then she left him. 

I stare at you. I try and see what you were, try and find the sunshine, but you are not just dark now, you drink in energy and I feel the space around me shrinking. You are still talking, half-crying, your hands slicing through the air as you describe the misery they heaved upon you. I can't break into this, have no solution to a one-sided conversation, so I wave to the bartender, order another round, watch your hands, your puffy face, and think about ants, shouldering twice their own body weight, marching and marching, and my hand in your hair, your golden hair. I must be smiling as I remember the grass and us, rolling, testing, growing, because you stop talking. I slide my hand over towards where your fingers are tapping on the wood, and I grip them hard. You don't make a sound, just look at me, your tiny eyes lost in your face and inside your eyes, more loss. You and I look at each other and for an instant we are back there, in those days where all there was was you leading and me following. 

A glass drops, a shout, and it's gone. I release your hand, you turn away from me, and I take up my glass and wonder why it is still empty.

[Forever after at]


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