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he counts the money in his wallet
the bills running through his cold hands
he imagines them 
as her hands
 
she counts the freckles on her shoulders
her skin is cold
she envisions him 
sitting, waiting
 
his window is clear
and the city is bright
the carpet, plush, beneath his toes
he leans on the panes,
imagines the color of her eyes
 
the dust is thick on the glass
the world outside dreary and dull
hundreds of miles away, the city lights twinkle
her toes are cold against the floor
the spaces between her fingers ache for his
 
"i love you"
the words he wants to whisper, shout
the words clogged inside him
that will not drain
 
"i love you"
she whispered them once,
against the safety of his collar bones
the warmth of his neck
she pretended it didn't hurt,
when he didn't say them back
 
he wants to be a journalist
his poems are filled with the color of her eyes
the light of her smile
he becomes a doctor
it's what his parents wanted
maybe, he thinks,
he can save someone else
 
her life is cold
her fathers hands are harsh
she retreats into her silence
has not heard from him in in months
"i love you"
her mind likes to play tricks on her 
sometimes, it's his voice she hears
 
her marries a woman with brown hair like hers
but the eyes are not kind,
the skin is not soft
he pretends he loves her
whispers the words
shouts another name as he sleeps
 
her father dies
she pretends to be happy
one less person to hurt her
the only person that might have loved her,
even a little
 
the child he has
he names it after the girl he used to love
tells his wife he found it in a book
she believes him
sometimes,
he sees her in his daughter
 
she sees his birth in the paper
the child named after her
her hands clench the paper
rip it shreds
the tears down her face are of frustration
 
he imagines his life differently
if he had said three words
maybe
he could have saved them both
 
she grows into a woman 
marries the man down the road
the one who used to bring her flowers
she whispers a "i love you"; into his collar bones
pretends that it is true
 
sometimes
we can try and save ourselves
sometimes,
our lives turn out differently than we planned

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