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The cold night air burns my nose and cuts across my face like a whip. I thrust my hands into my pockets and hold my breath against the fumes of the bus as it pulls away from the curb. The streetlights cast a pale, washed-out light onto the sidewalk as I make my way down the street, ignoring the people around me. They aren’t really there; their chatter is a rushing sound in my ears, meaningless noise. I want to be alone. Why, then, am I out at midnight in the busiest part of the city? It's because the four blank walls of my apartment have been driving me crazy. I need to get out of there. I need the cold night air against my face and the sharp scrape of my boots against the sidewalk.
I need to clear my head. I run my fingers over a coin I just discovered in my pocket, feeling the grooves and ridges of the cold metal.
“Make a wish,” you said. I held you close and watched the coin fall from my hand into the fountain. The breeze lifted your hair off your shoulders and carried the scent of your perfume. It smelled like oranges and flowers. You always said it was your favorite because it smelled like happiness.
“What did you wish for?” you turned to me with a smile after the ripples disappeared.
“I can’t tell you,” I said as I felt the gentle curve of your waist, “It won’t come true if I tell you.”
You stuck out your tongue at me. “Fine then,” you said, “be that way.”
I pushed a renegade strand of hair out of your face and kissed you on the forehead.
I’m sure you don’t remember that.
I make my way across. The concrete feels solid, real, beneath my feet. Kids with fake IDs and unchecked libidos are swarming the plaza. I guess that most of them are drunk and all of the couples are convinced they’re in love. They think they’ve found the one, the person they’ll spend their life with, and they’re going to celebrate by getting wasted downtown. I force them out of my mind. They aren’t there. I’m alone. I walk over to the fountain. It’s decorated with angels: angels blowing trumpets, baby cherubs spilling water out of shells, angels with harps and flowing ribbons draped across their shoulders. I stare into the dark waters and the glints of hundreds of coins stare back at me.
“What were you thinking? What is this? Are you insane?”
You kept on crying, your tears black from your mascara.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” you said over and over, “I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry.”
“I didn’t want to hurt you,”
“Didn’t want to hurt me? How are you trying not to hurt me?” I threw the bottle of sleeping pills on the ground.
“I can’t be with you. But I don’t want to hurt you. But I can’t…I don’t love you…I’m so sorry.”
“You think that this would hurt me less than breaking up with me?!”
“I don’t know…I’m sorry…”
“Stop being sorry. Stop being sorry and get out.”
I pull the coin out of my pocket and sit on the edge of the fountain.
It’s not my fault, I think, you were always a mess. The whole time. It’s awful, but it’s the awful truth. It’s not my fault.
I look up, startled by the sound of heels against the concrete. It's you. I blink again and again, but you don’t disappear. You keep walking towards me through the darkness. You aren’t a ghost; you aren’t my mind playing tricks on me. I stand up. You smile. Your smile hasn’t changed.
“Isn’t this familiar?” you say. “Remember? That time we came here and I had you make a wish?”
“How do you remember?”
“How could I forget? I asked you what you had wished for, and you wouldn’t tell me because you said it wouldn’t come true if you told me.”
I stare at her, unable to believe what I’m hearing.
“I haven’t forgotten anything,” you say.
“Do you still want to know what I wished for?”
I hesitate. You pull your left hand out of your pocket and a modest, solitary diamond catches the light.
“I wished for you to be happy. I guess you are now.”
You look down. “I am,” you say.
I smile, “Then my wish turned out pretty well.”
You look up and smile at me, say a quiet thank-you, and leave.