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That one night years ago, she drove us down narrow dirt roads to a wooded parking lot. One string of street lights back behind the trees in the middle of a warm summer. Three hours from the closest city. She threw the car into park and shut off the engine. A tangible silence loomed outside the windows and then seeped through the cracks – interrupted only by the quiet ticks of the metal, cooling in the dark.

“Let’s go!” She shouted into the stillness, disrupting the velvet tranquility as she unbuckled and grabbing her backpack she’d packed with whatever she felt was necessary for whatever we were doing. She hadn’t told me plans, hadn’t said anything other than she wanted to show me something.

“Go…where?” I said, partially to the back of her head as she was leaping out of the car, partially to the broken silence. I clung to the car and the tiny source of interior light. A metaphorical moth to an artificial flame. There was too much unknown out there. I asked, but truthfully, I trusted her enough, so I obediently stepped into the shadows and allowed the car door to click shut, letting the little light we had left slowly fade to black. The narrow pathways leading away from the parking lot started glowing with lightning bugs.

 

I met her when I was lost and she was found. I met her when she had a diamond ring, and I only had a handful of rubble. Her eyes would change color with the seasons and her moods. Most of the time she was laughing. She’d do the things that I’d want to write about doing. Her spontaneity made me feel alive. I was drawn to her, maybe because when I was with her, I didn’t feel so broken.

She never looked at me like the others did – with eyebrows twisted into worry and mouths pursed into an “oh you poor thing” expression that I wish never existed. Instead, she’d dare me to jump fences. Instead, she’d tell me to break rules and promises. While her future was set in stone upon her finger, she was telling me mine was glimmering over the next horizon, and I just needed to run to it.