Catalyst

When he asks you if you’ve been in love before, your first inclination is to say no — even though that’s not true. The bodies of the past are so hard to remember, so insignificant that they seem not to matter. You say yes, because he asked for the truth. He asks you for names, and you recite them, like they were history textbook facts (see page 41 for reference). When he asks you what they were like, you say one was a magician and the other was a liar. He says, what’s the difference. You say, barely anything, only the magician left some mystery, so when I look back, at least some of it is beautiful. He asks, were you different then? You nod. Yes, easier, softer — I didn’t know how to throw a punch — I didn’t know how to say goodbye. The poems were about wearing stars in my hair. He asks, and what are the poems about now? You say, they’re about strength. About choice. And that’s how you will love me? he asks. Yes, you say, I will choose to love you. I will know about the break, about the fracture, about the pain so hot it hurts to breathe — and I will still love you. And that’ll be because of them, he says, because of what they taught you. No, you say, it will be because of me — because of what I learned.

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