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Wednesday, June 1

Because I am stubborn. And I have to believe.

I have been forced to release your hand. We were walking down this path together, this one that we were forging for ourselves. It was scary, overgrown, and there were many beasts with weird teeth and stinky pits. But we beat 'em. With plastic bats, nerf guns, and even a few straw wrappers shot most accurately into their eyeballs, we beat 'em. And we were making headway. It was tiring, and every once in awhile we would sit down and eat a meal of quesadillas and Ben & Jerry's. We would tell stories and lie in the sand, everything dark but the vast and beautiful sky of stars. And we would marvel at our smallness. By looking at the stars, we would be reinvigorated, not only in our faith for the world and the universe, but in our love for one another. And we would get up and keep on moving.

But then, abruptly, you didn't want to fight anymore. Things had been hard, the beasts a little stinkier, the nerf bullets mostly missing (which we had replaced with smushed bananas)(not as efficient), and I was getting stingy with my straw wrappers because I wanted to keep them for an art project. But overall, we had been making progress. We had been fighting the good fight, I thought.

But apparently not, because you put down your bat, put the cap on your Ben & Jerry's, looked at me and smiled a sad, sad smile. I saw tears in your eyes, and I didn't know what to do. The world fell still and silent. Even the stars stopped doing their celestial dance, even the monsters held their breath, intuition telling them that this was not the time for a water balloon fight. In the shadows, I thought I saw other figures lurking, beckoning you to them, but I wasn't sure. I looked at you, no words coming to me, disbelief in my eyes. You looked away, smiled that sad, sad smile, and you let go of my hand.

Finally realizing what was happening, I tried to hold on. On my knees, my pleas echoing through the forest canopy, I begged. Dropping my straws (after looking at them for a long second, I'll admit), I clung to you, crying loudly. There was no dignity in what I did -- but there are some things that are worth fighting for, no matter how undignified you look. And this was one of those things. You, us, we -- we were one of those things. But you barely looked at me. You wouldn't even look at me as you shook me off, shook, shook, shook me off, while crying yourself and turning your back on our path, on our accomplishments, on our love. You stepped off our path and started to walk away.

"Do you not like where our path is going?" I cried. You shrugged your shoulders but did not respond.
"Do you want the nerf gun? I'll take the bat!" I cried. You shook your head, but you did not respond.
"I can take a shower!" I cried, growing increasingly frazzled. To this, you smiled that sad smile (I could still barely see your face), but you continued to walk.

When you could no longer hear me, I took the tin can from my handy tool belt, pulled taught the thread that connected me to you, and I rang. Knocking my fingers gently against the tin can, I called you in the only way I knew how. You noticed. I saw you stop and look at your can, the thread that connected us, briefly. But you did not answer. You did not pick up at all. And as I continued to call, you continued to walk away. And you still are.

I have not turned yet. I am still standing here, my Nerf gun in hand, sometimes crying, sometimes hopeful, that you will turn and walk my way. But there you are, walking farther away, onto this other path. It seems a little easier, a little more straight, lacking in jungle canopy and our mischievous monsters. There are monsters, I think, but they seem nicer, hiding their teeth behind painted lips, holding out trays of baked goods. And when I turn my head, I see a path of my own, similar to the path that you are now taking, with those same painted lips, those same trays of cookies. And it looks so easy. And it looks so nice. But then I look at our path, the one that we had cleared with so much effort, the one that, while so hard was also so fun, and I know that I don't want that other path. That path looks as though it is lacking tickle fights, stories about the misfits and forgotten kind, funny dances and loud singalongs to new music. I look at the path that lay before me, with its overgrown trees and know, that no matter what is on the other end, no matter how it looks, at the end of the day, I will know that it is mine, that it could have been ours, and I keep my feet firmly planted, turning my head to look at your back walking away. By now, you are far. A figure in the distance, and I feel so sad.

Every once in awhile, I think I see you stop. I think I see you turn your head. I think I see you take a step to me and call my name. It could just be my imagination, but just in case it is not, I will stand here, my head held high, and I will wait.

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