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The sky was light pink as Ali walked through the park. So much had changed since the last time she'd come here.
The last time she had come, she had gone with Mike, her boyfriend at the time.
On the way home, Ali had driven. She was focused on the road, but still it happened.
There was a large deer just standing in the road. In a split-second decision, Ali had swerved to the right to avoid it.
Ali had lost control of the car, which was now scraping against the guardrail.
Then the car hit a tree, stopping abruptly.
Mike screamed in pain, and Ali was now crying. She looked at Mike, who was bleeding, and then at herself. She wasn't bleeding.
She reached into her pocket, pulled out her cell phone and dialed 9-1-1.
Mike had been in critical condition the last time she saw him. She assumed he was dead, but she had no idea. His parents didn't like her very much, even though Ali and Mike had made plans to get married in two years. His parents blamed Ali, rightly, but she had a right to know what had happened to him.
Ali's mind went back to the present. Who had said that? She looked over on to the bench.
"Oh my God." Ali's voice was shaky.
It was Mike. Mike was sitting on the park bench.
"It's you," Ali said, "the guy I thought I killed."
"You couldn't get rid of me that easily," Mike said.
Ali smiled. She hated how this conversation was so general, how they were talking like this was the first time they'd ever met.
"Where have you been?" Ali asked. It had been a year since the accident.
"My parents sent me to Europe with my aunt to recover," Mike said.
"That's cool." Ali wasn't sure whether her tone sounded convincing enough, but she didn't care.
"I kept thinking about you," Mike said, "all the time."
Ali didn't say anything. She had missed Mike, too, but he hadn't even bothered to tell her that he was still alive, that she hadn't killed him.
"Ali," Mike said. "I know you think I completely forgot about you for a year, but I wrote plenty of letters to you. I never sent them, but I wanted to. I wanted you to know I still loved you, still cared about you."
Ali didn't say anything. The love they had shared seemed so much more like one of those summer flings than the actual thing.
"I'll never be able to make up for last time." Mike didn't know why he'd never sent those letters to Ali, but he knew he should have, just by the way her face looked. "I want you to know this: 1) I never dated another girl after I left you. 2) I missed you, Ali, and it killed me, inside. 3) I still love you, Ali."
Mike stood there, his pocket looked too bulky, and he wished he hadn't brought the ring, hadn't come here at all.
Until she smiled at him. She walked over to him, and he held her in his arms.
That's love, Ali thought, true and honest love.
Mike backed away, got down on one knee, and pulled out the ring. "Will you marry me, Ali?"
Tears welled up in Ali's eyes. She knelt down next to him, wrapping her arms around him. Her face was covered in tears.
"YES!" Ali said. "Yes, I will."