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I remember the sun was starting to paint the sky a deep purple and the sweltering air prickled at my skin. Always, after the rainy season—the heat settled in waves, like it was radiating from the asphalt beneath us.
Her lips were moving, her profile in the dying light, fingers sweeping her long, dark hair behind a small white ear.

“You know, everything is meaningless.”

We were walking. Sweaty palms, fingers interlocked, light breeze blowing through our hair. It was only us on the road back to campus, old dormitories on our left, the full expanse of a glowing lake to our right.
Her voice carried over the hum of traffic. Thinking back now, her expression was mellow. She was walking without her usual sharp footsteps, something weighing her down. But I hadn’t thought much of it then.
“What do you mean?” I said.
She didn’t say anything for a while. We walked as the shadows overtook light. The streetlamps flickered awake like the first fireflies of summer.
“I just wanted to hear how it sounds,” she said. “Just once. Hear it from my own mouth. Say it and it becomes reality—keep it in your head and it’s only an idea floating in the vacuum of your own conscious.”
“Quit trying to sound so deep,” I said.
“Humor me? Just once?”
“I always do.”
She turned and threw a small punch at my arm. I caught it easily and pulled her close, kissing her on the forehead. We smiled playfully at each other. She turned around again.
By then, she was walking ahead of me.

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