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Where Summer Song Rings Hollow
I never quite liked summer, do you remember? You’d drag me off on some grand adventure on our abandoned neighborhood streets where you'd always make me look both ways before crossing despite the absence of cars. We wouldn’t even get down the road before I’d stop and pant, complaining of tiredness. You’d tell me I needed exercise and I’d agree—but we both knew I wasn’t about to do anything about it. The only times I ever moved were when I was with you.
Summer closed in around us, the sweltering heat melting away barriers and inhibitions. Perhaps that was how you always managed to have me trailing after you under the sun, leaning on you for support when I couldn’t move anymore. We were just two people, two friends of the very best sort who knew each other inside out and always, always laughed at the coincidences of our fate. We didn’t belong in the south, having migrated there like birds in winter and never quite found our wings to fly back. Do you remember? We missed the snow and the cold.
Sometimes, I called you and we didn’t talk. It was enough for both of us to know that the other was just there, ready to listen and ready to talk. It was enough for an entire summer and more.
In autumn, we parted ways because you went to one school and I another, and both of us were too stubborn to transfer. But that was okay. I think we both realized that if we continued our rendezvous on vacant streets, we’d melt into one person—and we were very loathsome of the people we were, weren’t we? That was always the danger of being two halves of a whole. So we were very careful, I think, to never get too close.
But nothing changed between us. We went on about our friendship as if the seasons never shifted. Perhaps that was the problem. We didn’t want to admit to each other that we were different people come winter.
Winter was when I saw you again. You’d grown taller, but so had I and wasn’t that all very grand? It was clear that we wanted to be happy again with each other, but we didn’t quite fit the same way anymore. Once, we used to be two very large pieces of a whole puzzle. Then time did its damage and corners were cut and pasted on elsewhere, leaving two grotesque pieces in its wake. That was when we both decided that it was better to be one person than two people who didn’t belong to each other.
Except that it was too late by then. We had become too much like each other and yet, too much like different people. Our memories had gaps and blanks and behind our eyelids they stopped playing in a seamless fashion. We told ourselves that it was love: a love that had been nurtured under the sun and rain.
It’s a shame that neither of us remembered that our beloved winter kills, for winter enchanted us and reminded us of home and better days.
When the new year came, we played a game of chess where each move was deliberated and thought on beforehand. We avoided each other for days on end, only to be drawn back together again like magnets too strong for anything to stop. The problem was that we both pointed north.
There were times when we’d fold up against each other and be perfectly content. But we weren’t really, were we?
Spring passed without us talking and summer came again.
You died that summer, do you remember? Under the heat and the sun. We were laughing and running—just like we used to. And for once, the only time in your life, you crossed the street without looking. And of course that was the only day our neighborhood streets were alive with cars and people.
Just like us, they had changed.
I think I really did want to love you, but you had become my other half and all I could think about, each time we kissed, was how much I really did despise the person I was. And all your kindness, all your clever wit and gentle laughter, couldn’t get rid of that.
(I know, I know. You really did believe you loved me, and that’s perfectly wonderful. Wait for me in summer-sweetness, and together we can fly towards winter.)