The sun has come.

The mist has gone.

We see in the distance…

our long way home.

I was always yours to have.

You were always mine.

— Maya Angelou.

You recite the lines in your head.

And when you’re done, you recite them again, and again. These are going to be your first words, your very first words to her, and they need to be perfect. They have to be. When you walk up to her, make sure your back is straight, clear your throat; your voice has to be clear, and maintain as much eye contact as you possibly can. Be nice, but not too much, be funny but not too much. Be natural, be cool. Even when she smiles at your awkwardness, the glitter in her eyes shining in the dark. Don’t flutter, don’t flake, just smile back.

A s you both begin to text, you learn things. She, like you, loves good books, good poetry, and good movies, but most importantly, good food. You learn the way her eyes light up when she talks about a poem she loves, or a movie she adores. You learn she has a heart wrought in gold. You learn of Poetic Justice and more of Maya Angelou.

You also learn things about yourself, your cracks, that are not as bright, not as colourful, not as good.

But, time goes on, it moves and shifts, and turns and twists, and while you are facetiming her in her scarf at 1am, your voice low so you don’t wake your brother, in another day, days from then, you’ll be at a nice sandwich place, on your first date. Where your undoing begins, and ends and will forever be.

You talk about your lives before, and what you want your life to be after. You talk about your parents, and your siblings, and the scars they left and the scars you made. You talk until the sun goes down and play cards until she loses. Another thing you learn — she’s horrifically bad at cards. But you are bad at honesty. So, it balances out.

And yet, at that same time, days from then, you go on the second date, that begins where life begins — at an art gallery. You find yourself smiling, and happy, and free, and watch her as she watches you. You like the art, but you like her more.

After, you go to have lunch.

When evening comes, you walk, two ice-cream cones in hand, to a cosy spot you both have made, with a laptop playing an episode of Avatar the Last Airbender — You both watch Zuko, as he falls, and rises and forgives himself. Slowly, but surely. And you watch with her hand in yours, your heartbeats racing, your heads touching, but not quite.

When the kiss begins, it is punctuated by lines of poetry, words you both love, and your lips on her neck, her hands on your back. It feels like eternity. But you learn that it isn’t, as a man comes from a door neither of you had seen and now there are three shocked faces as you both race away like fluttered birds.

You run and you walk, and you laugh and you live, and you are, and that is all. Neither of you know it yet, but this is the last time you will see. For a while.

Your cracks start to show. You learn that she cares about you, unconditionally, without question, and you can’t handle that. Maybe it’s because you don’t love yourself, maybe it’s because you can’t see what she sees, either way the case is the same, you lash out. Or you leave, using work as an excuse. Or you do both.

The third date…the third date never happens, because of guilt, and shame, and the future meant to be is cut off by the string of events, and then string of texts you later send to her, as tears run down your eyes.

But still, she forgives, over, and over again. And every time she does, you’re reminded that you’re not worthy of it. But she corrects you. Over, and over again.

You see, there are multiverses, and parallel universes where things are different and choices themselves are altered. So, maybe there is a universe where things work out better. Where you are more than what you are and more of what she deserves. A universe where the third date happens, and the fourth, and the fifth. Maybe they are by candlelight dinners, or walks in a park reserve or in that nice restaurant she loves. Maybe the feelings between you both grow stronger. You don’t know a lot about this universe where things work out, but you know one thing to be true: that is not the one you live in.

And yet, as things fall apart, at the same time, days before, things are coming together, and you are taking your first steps, towards a pretty girl whose name you don’t know yet, who will change your life, for better or worse. And days after, you will find yourself reciting poetry in a sky with no sun, with lips that crave more.

For then, you are reciting your lines in your head.

And when you’re done, you recite them again, and again, and again. These are going to be your first words, your very first words to her, and they need to be perfect.

They have to be.

The sun has come.

The mist has gone.

We see in the distance our long way home.

I was always yours to have.

You were always mine.

We have loved each other in and out,

in and out,

in and out

of time.

— Maya Angelou

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