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The Little Things
"Love is about the little things."
She always used to say that. It was her motto, her standard of living. The way she looked at each and every day, each and every person or creature she loved.
"Love is about the little things. It isn’t about the grand gestures or huge declarations. It’s about the quirks and habits and endearments that make you who you are."
He flipped the photograph around again. She was smiling at him, lowering her sunglasses to grin at the camera. Brown locks tumbled every which way, spilling down her shoulders and catching in the breeze. Perhaps if he stared long enough, tried hard enough, he could reach through and catch a strand, loop it around his finger and breath in the scent that was her, just her.
Words scrawled across the back, bold and bright.
I love you. Whether we’re right next door or 2,000 miles apart, I love you.
That had been one of her little things: her bluntness. Allie didn’t waste words. She said what needed to be said, and if it was offensive, well, sorry, you needed to hear it anyway. Friends would always say, “Want an honest opinion? Go to Allie.”
But that wasn’t just it. The little things were the way she loved rain, how she’d burst through the door and dance in the streets as the sky cracked open and the rain came tumbling down. She loved the way the drops beaded on her skin, how her hair grew wet and tangled and wild as she twirled in the downpour. She would come back, half-drowned, with a smile on her face.
They were the way she always twisted her hair when answering a difficult question, as though the dark strands could somehow answer for her. They were the way she’d burst out laughing with no apparent cause, and soon enough, everyone would be laughing with her.
The way she made Set Fire to the Rain her ringtone, and would always pause a few moments before answering, closing her eyes and mouthing along with the words. The way she always balanced things on her head—posters, baskets, books. Especially books. Teachers would see her in class, book perched atop her head, and they would smile and look away. They’d grown used to it, even fond of it.
It was impossible to not grow fond of Allie.
The little things were the way she smiled against his lips when they touched hers, as though she had a secret, one too big and bright to contain. The way she’d dance down the aisles of a store, link arms with a cashier, twirl around for a moment, and skip on. The way, when she was serious, she’d cock her head and wrinkle her nose and look anything but serious as her tone dropped in solemnity.
They were the way she’d only ever listen to songs from musicals, and how she knew each and every word, each and every pitch and tone to each and every line of every song she’d ever sang. Sometimes, if she was out on the grass, she would dance to the words as though she herself were a part of the production.
The little things were the way she’d hug him, and never let go. She’d wrap her arms around his torso, bury her chest in his shirt, and stay there till they grew hungry. Perhaps it grew uncomfortable, frozen in that position for so long, but she didn’t care. She’d hug him, hold him close, and when they finally parted, she’d snake her way up and kiss him on the cheek. A small, bright, chaste kiss that meant more than lips could ever say.
Then she’d whisper “I love you” as she danced away.
Rattling at the door. A moment later, it swung open. His father stood behind it, dressed in solemn charcoal gray. His face was far gloomier than the shirt he wore.
“Son,” he said quietly, “are you ready for the funeral?”
The boy stroked the photograph gently, fingers lingering on her face. There had been so many little things to love.
He kissed the picture and set it on his bed.
“Yeah,” he said. “I’m ready.”