I fell in love at seventeen, I no longer question that. They say you don’t, can’t possibly, understand the essence of it at that age. I declare your ignorance. I am not in love with the boy whose face is the first sight I witness in the morning. I pretend, for this is all a game, and I hope he realizes his role in my imagination before the retirement estate. Water seeps through the cracks of a stone angel’s heart as if there are veins and arteries to breathe life. Life at twenty-one is a mirage of fabled morals and unrequited pledges, for the dust of the aftermath is all that touches your fingertips.

I observe through the looking glass and I see the frail light of my being. These words run wildly, and I have never been defined by the limits of societal decadence. I reach for your hand in an effort to chase back the humanity I foolishly bargained away at fifteen, for a chance at the round table where I never truly belonged. But that girl who ran down Ouellette Avenue to buy a five-dollar sandwich for a homeless man and his cardboard sign no longer dwells within me. She died with the bitterness of living in four walls of violent years that ultimately consumed any ambition to become more than a face in the crowd.

There are moments when I pray for that old heart back – those lit-up dreams of a neon garden and a concrete jungle. A millimeter shift away, yet enough to bury the kindness and selflessness I thought would translate beyond my grade school years.

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