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They met by chance, though she liked to call it fate. But really there was nothing fateful about their meeting. They were an odd match, but it didn’t matter because they were perfect for each other. People would warn her that sometimes the person who’s best with you isn’t the best for you. She would nod her head enthusiastically; a concerned and thankful look in her eyes. But she wasn’t listening. She was in love and he was perfect with her and perfect for her so there was no need to worry, really. And this is how she lived, she was alive, but she wasn’t living. There was always a ‘but’. Nothing was truly complete and that was completely true.
She was a blonde turned brunette when they met. She believed in fair chances and equality, especially when it came to hair color. There had been a blue phase, a pink, a red, a no hair at all phase, and the only one she kind of regretted, kind of cherished: the mullet. (That was one she woke up to, not remembering the midnight decision). This was it; she was in love with her dark locks. She called the color Brownie Batter because it sounded delicious, and delicious was one of her favorite ways to describe things. Her coffee in the morning was delicious. Sometimes her outfit was delicious, but most of the time it was paint splattered and ripped apart. The random novels she’d pick up off of random shelves from random stores were delicious as well.
He liked her hair. He liked her face. He liked her from the first moment they collided on the sidewalk; she still needed to work on reading and walking simultaneously. He liked to joke that it was good she crashed into him; otherwise the two might have walked right by and kept on going. She liked to remind him of fate and said they would have walked right around the world and back to each other’s path. He wasn’t so sure, but he was glad they saved all that time.
He was the same as ever when they met. He wasn’t paying attention, as usual, so he didn’t realize a novel-toting blonde-turned-brunette was heading towards him. He was a funny person. Sometimes he made emails and sent them around, and they almost always got great responses. (The one time they didn’t was quite a punusual case). He too was a brunette. But that didn’t matter much because that was just how he was born and he didn’t think equality and far chances really applied to hair, but he didn’t mind that she did. He was nice. He held open doors because that’s what he was taught to do and he had a good handshake and an even better smile. Once he had chugged a whole gallon of milk, and it was all a good laugh for him and his buddies, even when his clothes got covered in a bile and dairy solution.
They talked about lots of things. Life and death and love and being together and cherry veneers and paper cuts and laundry techniques and filing tax forms. They talked about music, and they said they had a song. If someone asked they said it was the Cha Cha Slide, but that wasn’t what she hummed in the shower or what he whistled on his way to work, so chances are they had another.
It was a casual relationship except that they lived together and spent most of their moments together and depended on each other not just for love or friendship but for breakfast and wardrobe decisions and knowing where they last put their keys and other rather important things. So it was casual, yes, but not really, not at all. They were unsure about a lot of things, about the future and the past, about time in general because time is just a human concept, but they knew that they were happy, or happy enough, and that’s what mattered.
Sometimes they fought, and those times weren’t all too great. There was yelling and tears, so many tears, from both parties no less. And sometimes there were moments where they had to dig their heels into the earth and pray that their soles might anchor down since it seemed their souls were drifting up, up, up to heaven. Those were good times, very good indeed.
While she wasn’t one to follow routines, he was, and while he was inspired by her spontaneity, he still fell into patterns. Patterns were good, he thought. If something worked once, it would work again, and there was no need to worry. She always believed that there was something easier, faster, better, to be discovered by the constant changing. She was probably wrong, but then again so was he. When they fought, which were certainly not good times, he followed the same course of action, just in case. He remembered the first time he’d used it. He remembered it well.
He waited until her eyes became red and swollen just like the words that flew from her tongue, until she had painted wet trails down her cheeks with her tears, and threw plates, probably expensive, against the tiled ground. He waited until she had exhausted herself completely, until she was a crumpled doll sitting cross legged on the floor, sobbing and shaking and tired. She was so tired. She ached. She was tired and she ached. He waited until she can break no further. And he held her. He simply held her still. Allowed her heartbeat to synchronize with his. He had waited for the silence.
It was in this quiet static, when not even the clock dared to tick, and the outside traffic had detoured for fear of disrupting the peace, that he began to heal her. He waited again, as expected. But this time it was to look up into her eyes. They were still red, less swollen, however. They were still aching and tired and had seen far too much.
Sometimes he was drawn back to that moment at odd hours of the day, like while he was waiting to print something in the office or when he and his old college buds were grabbing a drink, and every time he came home and looked into her eyes.
He, Atlas, would shield those eyes. They were fragile and daring. She was weak but wouldn’t admit it. There would be more broken dishware. More breakdowns and disheveled hair. But he would wait by her side. She was his to protect and to love and to nurture.
He, Atlas, would hold her up in her times of glory, and let her bask in the sun. He, her protector, would cover her with blankets and his two arms when she needed shelter. He promised her the world with the way he parted her lips. And she gratefully accepted with the way she grabbed his hand.
He, Atlas, would carry his world proudly.