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We Walk Along

We walk along by the river, my hand in his, our arms of different lengths and his palms much bigger than mine. The sun is hot but not too hot; we feel its glow on our shoulders as we walk towards the bridge. Along the bank there are poppies, hundreds of them, interspersed between the long grass. Their tissue paper petals are translucent in the sun. We walk and say very little, but sometimes his fingers gently brush against the back of my hand.

The path winds upwards and opens onto a bridge, a great metal monstrosity that hangs above the wide stretch of dancing waters below, but from up here there is little sense of that. You stand by the railings and look down at the glittering blue, the sun rippling in a blinding continual flutter, and you close your eyes and feel the breeze in your hair. You forget for a moment that your heart is heavy, and those words you have been trying not to say evaporate on your tongue.

We stand there for several minutes, passed by occasional cyclists in bright lycra and walkers, some in jeans and t-shirts that catch on the breeze, others dressed in tight leggings and wielding walking sticks. A few greet us, some smile in our direction. I imagine how we look from the outside, young and intertwined. The present does not capture what might be coming next, and so they keep walking or pedalling, these passers-by, and we become extras in their stories, frozen in our moment of bliss.

The sun is taken in by a cloud and it is a reminder that the afternoon will not last forever. I look up into his face – I am always looking up – and see into his familiar eyes. There has often been a melancholy tinge to that blue, and now that it is the end of May I finally understand why. Those eyes have known all along that they will watch as I walk away. He smiles, the sweetness of his face clarified by his sorrow.

I trace his chin with my finger. Without the need for any words, in the language that will always unite those of a similar soul, I tell him that I would not change a single one of these perfect moments that have led us towards our imperfect end.

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