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Mist, dreams, thoughts- a familiar face. Of all faces, hers. Of all places, this godforsaken back alley. A kindhearted universe would have her face drift past me, unnoticed, among a million others. Recognition, a sting, memories, pain. Drain the blood from my fingertips, cruel universe. She could not emerge from the shadow world by gradually and gently taking shape – no – she has to burst to dazzling life before my eyes. Looking down a deafeningly deep cliff would be more soothing to my nerves…–

Oh hello, how are you? Hi, I’m fine, thanks. And you? I’m doing well. Good, good. Shifting feet, endlessly shifting feet, and lame arms numb with potential only for an embrace. Invisible strings to an impossible state. Few sympathize with me when I shyly confess that the outlet of my love, its final, its expression, its resting point, the state towards which everything – my whole being – is directed, is not the orgasm but the hug. Hands cupping shoulder blades, biceps squeezing soft upper arms, my face nestled in her neck and drowning in her hair– this to me is love, eternity, a magnificent return to the beginning. In offering you this I give you my life, I hand my body over to you, breast against breast, beat meeting beat after beat. I whisper: live with me, die with me, define me, and finish me off. I desire nothing else, I am yours, I surrender unconditionally and perish in your arms- love is giving in and giving up and love is breathing in your hair. I want nothing except to hug you now, but it is impossible. Yet the urge to give is too strong- I should offer nothing, give you nothing, I should keep it to myself, but…–

I still have your book. I would like to return it to you. Oh, righty. Did you read it? I have read it until my eyes bled, I have not stopped reading it since you left me. I have kept it with me as if it could at any moment act to save my life. I have blanketed its pages with quivering breaths. I have wetted it with warm, weary tears that have slowly seeped into its skin. I have held it in my arms, delicately gripped its sides, caressed every edge and bump and curve of its pages, vacuumed every one of its words into consciousness, registered each sound in my mind and stamped it, ravaged it, into memory… –

Yes, I have read it. How did you like it? I thought it was great. You know, you may keep it if you like. Oh no, I know how much you care for that book, so I would like to return it to you. Having filled it with myself – with my love, breath, and cells – and having created a world between my mind and its words, a world stuck thickly to its paper, I have become a part of it – you will never know, but I do: these words have become my words, I have become this book. I shall settle inconspicuously on your shelf, just a tome among others, a puddle of pitiful letters, a book of sore flesh- and you will look at me, caress me with hands and eyes, and once again give me the attention I have lost. You will love me with your eyes, I will create images inside your mind, I will move you, and you will inhale my cells deeply- perhaps you will read me in bed? You will hold me, rest me on your stomach, smile because of me weep over me die with me come to life with me…–

Do you still live in the same apartment? Yes, I do. I could drop it off for you? I don’t think that’s a good idea, you know how it is. Yes, but if you buzz me into the building, I could leave it at your door. I guess that would be fine. Tomorrow at two in the afternoon? Yes, that works. Thank you. You’re welcome. Take care of yourself please? Okay. You too. Hug- now or never. Never, but I will give you our book.