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Camille This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


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“Nika.” Camille looks at me. “Are you married?”

“No, baby, I'm not.”

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

“No.”

“Nika, if you get a boyfriend, tell him that you won't marry him, okay? Okay, Nika, tell him that you will never marry him.”

“Cama, what are you so worried about?”

“Ni-iika-aa. Because if you marry your boyfriend, then you're gonna move away and I'll never see you,” she says, her nose turning pink and eyes watering. “You'll move far away and forget me. You're gonna forget me, Nika.”

“I'll never ever forget you; that's just impossible. But I can't promise never to marry, okay?”

“But do you wanna marry, Nika? Do you want babies?”

“Yes, one day. But not anytime soon.”

“Not soon?”

“No, not even in ten years when you'll be almost as old as I am now and I'll be 27.”

“Are you gonna look different, Nika? Are you gonna change?”

“Camille, everybody changes,” I tell her as her eyes water up again. “Look.” I pull out a photograph of my brother, cousin, and me. “This picture was taken when you weren't even born yet. Do I look the same?” She shakes her head and smiles. “How about Tamik?”

“No, he has a different haircut.”

“How about Emiliya?”

“No.”

“See, everyone changes. It's not bad – that's just how it is.”

“But I don't change.”

“Yes, you do. You just don't notice it. When you were born you were only this big.” I hold out my hands to show her how tiny she had been. “And look at you now.”

“But still, I don't want you to get married. You have to pray to God and tell him never to give you babies. And then you say ‘ah-men.'”

“Camille, I'm not going anywhere soon. So stop worrying, okay?”

She looks up at me. “Okay.”

“Camille, how much do I love you?”

“A million?”

“No.”

“Ninety-six?”

“Much, much more.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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