I've been back in Denver for a week now.

When I got home, snow was thick on the ground. Last night and today it's been snowing heavily. Then, as now, the pine outside my bedroom window creaked under the weight of the accumulated snow. I wonder if it will snap, if it will buckle under the weight, or if tomorrow it will be standing just as tall as it was on Monday when the sun was bright and warm in a cloudless sky.

I don't honestly remember much of the past week. I've spent most of it in a sort of grey haze. The last clear memory I have is of Montag's face crumpling as he turned from me, his hair too long, dust discoloring one sleeve of his black coat. I stood in the hallway before the security checkpoint for longer than I care to admit staring after him. I didn't even make it through the metal detector without crying.

The world outside is soft and white and quiet. The sky is the color of a pearl. Once, in third grade, we hatched silk worm eggs and waited patiently as the caterpillars gorged themselves on mulberry branches and wrapped themselves into cocoons. We waited patiently. At the end, they chewed their way out of those cocoons and we took them outside and watched them fly away. I was allowed to keep a cocoon. It was the same color inside that the sky is now.

One last thing about flying. On my wrist is a bracelet with a bird charm. Montag gave it to me. The bird is a swallow. When I was a kid in Southern California, we sometimes would drive an hour south to the San Juan Capistrano Mission. Every year the swallows would return in staggering numbers from across impossible distances, compelled towards home.

Montag is my Capistrano.

'The world breaks everyone, and afterward many are strong at the broken places.'

It took me three days to stop crying for any length of time. After that, it wasn't about what I felt but about what I didn't. I don't know that there's a word in English for feeling so keenly the absence of something you never knew you were missing. Grief, perhaps; but that's not quite right. Today, I am finding it difficult to be poetic; there's a certain clinical distance that comes from sweeping up all the shattered parts of yourself. Putting them back into a box and leaving them for the one person who can remember how they're supposed to fit together. That leaves me with facts, and the facts are these. I am deeply in love. The Atlantic Ocean is far too wide. And I miss the boy I love. I don't know how to put it any more plainly than that.

This is new for me. It has made me pragmatic, and selfish. One of the things love is good for is making you feel part of something important, something deeply meaningful. And what that is, is the freedom of a bookish teenager learning that he can write his own stories. I don't need an analogy to explain this to myself. I don't want to be Tristan or Isolde, because I want to be myself. For the first time in a long time, that feels like something worth doing. I'm still not quite an optimist. Happy endings are not our birthright. They need work, and persistence, and the kind of strength you find at the broken places. But I feel capable. I want EC back. And if anyone tries to stop that happening, I will go through them like a woodchipper through a bushel of puppies.

...there, I managed to get one joke in there.

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