I want to tell you about her. I will not be starting from the beginning.

It wasn't raining, and I couldn't care less. I was thinking too much right then, deciding whether I would remember this when I was 21, and if it'd be a turning point like this was the start of something beautiful or this was where it all went wrong. She took my hand and held my breath for 6 minutes and 23 seconds. (What else is there to do in silence but count?) I wouldn't have minded if she never let go, regardless of the logistics that would entail. I've never counted past 952, anyway. She took other parts of me, later, but maybe it was too early for that now. Maybe my hand was just sweaty.

We are in the attic. Her attic. Her parents are home. She is simply in their house. They moved and moved and moved and moved and she doesn't even know what a home is; this is their home and not hers. The house is one of those where you're afraid to sit down on the sofa because a realtor may jump out behind you and force you to sign a contract or start spewing facts or asking questions, isn't that a great fireplace? Doesn't it just make you want to burn things? The attic is hers, though. You can just tell. It is safe and it is just us, as far as everyone is concerned. She and I are on a mattress, the windows are open and for the first time ever I can breathe.

Have you ever had someone of whom the mere thought inspires you to get out of bed in the morning? She's like that, except I don't stop thinking about her once I get up. Or ever.

She has been gone for weeks. She is coming back. She is coming back. This is my mantra, now, because she taught me how to worry about someone more than you'd worry about yourself. She would deny that she induced this, if asked, but she's the kind of emetic that wouldn't admit to inducing vomiting even the act saved your life. She told me, once, that she sometimes finds herself repulsive. I'd spend the rest of my life without a face if it'd make her feel more beautiful.

We are in the forest, and she is completely and irrevocably in my arms. We speak of conspiracies and flooding, of love and snowglobes and what if this is heaven? It sure feels like it to me.

When we hug, breathing doesn't come naturally. It's as if my brain recognizes that she's the one keeping me alive, and can finally take a break from its vital duties. I take the opportunity to mimic her breath. Her inhale inspires my inhale, her exhale provokes mine. Sometimes I forget exhales altogether, because she smells of amber and coming home. Sometimes I don't even need to count.

I think she told me once that she could never imagine "not being able to live without someone", because there are so many other people out there to love, and she wouldn't ever be able to inspire the kind of grief in other people that suicide often does.

If there was a time when I was a better person, it is now.

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