by Julianne Billings

knows me as pools of liquid chocolate reflected in my own gaze and

unruly dark tresses that roam free during the day, but proudly cover-up at night.

A black, jersey, scarf covered them the night we clutched hands,

painful love – like the time I made her cry so hard, I heard her sobs outside the bathroom door (little did she know, I cried too) – streaming from my eyes and scraping against my throat as I ran headlong

into the night, screeching sounding behind us;

who were so young, and living in a breathless moment

of adventure and headstrong, unabashed life, but

that jersey scarf like a sparkling flare – she has this way of energizing every room she enters – held my eyes transfixed as I chased my own desperate puffs of air behind that tree and

that scrap of black fabric – maroon's her favorite color, but it clashes with most of her clothes –paralyzed my mind as each shot rang out

because that jersey –

also in magenta, grey, and my personal favorite, the deep red that brings out her audacity –

is a terrifying reminder of sixteen years of

stealing my American girl dolls and hiding them in plain sight and

long, barely held, competitions of sullen silence in a red car at too-early-in-the-morning-o'clock and

“do you want Qdoba?” and

which Barbie Movie haven’t we watched recently? Because we have so much time and

we thought that time was dragging during those months but

it sped up that night as I watched her black scarf blend in with the night sky and

I realized what I might lose – laughter, hate, tears, late nights, anger, and chocolate donuts –

but her shaking hand and murmured prayers reminded me she was still there and

I finally understood love.

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