January 14, 2008
By Nicole Testa, Bronx, NY

He heaved a heavy sigh. Sitting on this sphere was getting old. Sitting, waiting. Impatient nail biting coupled with days spent with eyes glued to a clock and calendar. Bright red x's covered the days of the past, and with every swipe of sharpie he grew closer. Closer to the one thing he desired so badly.

Finally, the day had come. He took out the crimson felt tip and drew not an x, but circle. Over and over he went, until the ink bled through to the pages beneath. Since the clock had struck 12 his heart has been pumping a little bit more blood, his hands quivered a tad more than usual, and his impatience grew to an incalculable level.

Eyes racing back and forth between the shore and his pocket watch, he felt his chest heave with every breath. 6:00: only one more hour until the anticipated moment. He reached into his pocket, running his calloused fingers over the smooth round miracle. He had kept it safe for so long, waiting for the moment he cold give the gem to whom he believed to be its rightful owner.

Click. Click. Click. Whaaaaaaaaaaa.

The hand reached the sacred number and the wail of a gong echoed through the young man's body. He jerked his head, peering toward the water. He saw her. Or was it? Could it really be? Was it happening? He believed it was.

She rowed nearer, nearer. And with ever stroke of the oar he felt the knot in is stomach grow more and more defiant. He blinked as she finally stopped. She stood solemnly, like a fragile soul wrapped in a veneer exterior. His face contorted in a way it hadn't since this same day last year. Or was it two years ago? He had forgotten the details, but none of that mattered now. She had returned, and all for him!

He stood up, like the sides of his lips upon seeing her. He took to the fastest pace he knew, trying hard not to slip into the pores. Every now and then one of his feet would step its way eagerly into one of the many openings in his perforated world. And then he kept falling, more frequently than ever. The holes kept growing as he grew nearer to that vision of frailty. And with every slip of his foot, that lady let one more tear slip down her rose colored cheek, until her eyes poured the salty water. Enough, perhaps, to rival the contents of the very ocean her boat lay upon.

"No!" he cried. "God, no! Don’t do this…"
She could hardly look at him.
"Please," he cried in one last desperate attempt. "I need you...I need you so much closer..."

At these words she could only shake her head, as she herself shook under the intense weight of the sobs she just could not control.

"But look, please, look!" And with one last attempt he dug his hands to his pockets – legs slipping yet still moving – and vigorously yanked what he had been guarding with his every emotion for so long. As he raised his hand to show her, she, too, made a move. Slowly, she lifted her own shaking arm. He saw her wrist. He saw the jewels.

"How? No. No… But you said...!"

And with one earth-shaking exclamation, he fell – through the largest hole of the sphere. Gone forever into the vast unknown of reality.

Shaking, still, the lady sunk back down into her boat, somber, rowing away from a dream that could never come true.

And the only sign of the love that had once ruled the sphere was a small golden bracelet, precariously dangling on the edge of a shrinking hole.

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