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Counting Steps

The sun warmed my back as I bit into a very American food in a very not-American place. Eric grinned and gestured at the structure before us with his hot dog. "The Eiffel tower, Natalee, can you believe it? Paris, at last! You've always wanted to come!" His blue eyes shone in the bright mid-morning light. Still staring at the tower in awe, he took another bite of his hot dog. I looked at it hard, but all I could see was a collection of metal lumps. I tried to see it like Eric saw it-like Eric saw everything-with excitement and admiration, but the tower blurred as my eyes stung. Quickly taking a tasteless mouthful of food, I dashed away the tears. Later, we walked hand in hand down a quaint cobblestone pathway by a small canal. The sun was almost directly above us, the only sounds were the birds and our footsteps echoing off the old walls. When Eric spoke, his voice brimmed with sadness. "You're doing it again Nat," he said. Grief clutched at my stomach with a cold hand. I hadn't realized. Wondering if he could forgive me again, my voice choked. He looked away, his hand lax in my grasp. "You're counting steps."

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