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the boy with the red hair is looking at you and he’s in love with you. you know he’s in love with you because he makes it so achingly obvious, makes it seem like it comes to him as natural as breathing, fingers tangling in your hair and brushing the strands out of your face. the boy with the red hair is so in love with you it leaves you breathless, leaves you with a hole in your chest the size of the moon and you’re breaking his heart, you know you’re breaking his heart, because he loves you and you’ll never let yourself love him back.

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the boy with the red hair is leaning into you as you walk from school toward home, and you want this moment to last forever. you want this moment to never end because home might be fifteen minutes away to anyone else, but to you home is here, home is a glance to the side and up, home is viridian eyes and burn scars and you've never wanted to melt into someone else’s hold more. his palm is in yours and you wish you could stop time, wish you could love him, but every step scalds into you like hot iron because you can’t. you won’t.

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the boy with the red hair is staring at you and he’s honey gold syrup and hot chocolate on cold days, he’s everywhere but not really; in your thoughts and head and heart like a disease— maybe a rot, inside of you. maybe you’re rotting from the inside out, maybe his sugar is killing you. god, maybe you want it to kill you, fingernails pressing into the skin of your wrist in autumn, crunching on leaves for the satisfaction of the sound. this could be us, the crinkling whispers, something satisfying but short, something to walk on from soundlessly.

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the boy with the red hair tells you he loves you and you know, you both know, and the want inside of you has never been bigger before. you want this, your heart whispers. you want this so badly it hurts you, it kills you, clawing your heart out like a hook digging into your chest. i know, you say, and nothing else. there are unspoken words in your throat, reciprocations you wish would just choke you out already. maybe they already have. maybe that’s the reason you’re so dead inside; a corpse walking, the feeling of love so immense it blinds you being the only thing keeping you afloat.

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the boy with the red hair is burning outside your window— a funeral pyre, fire crackling in the dark of the night much like the fear in your chest and you jump out to join him because, because— he’s burning from the inside out, won’t let you touch him and maybe it’d be different had you been lovers but no, no— you’re panicking, you’re— what happened? who hurt you? please let me touch you and he does, he does and your skin, baby soft from years of youth— your skin burns with him, and it’s awful, it’s so awful, but he’s living and breathing it— you have to live and breathe it with him. you have to, you have to, you have to.

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the boy with the red hair is squatting down in the street, it’s night and he’s hurting, he’s hurting so much you don’t know what to do, because if you were lovers you could hold him and promise him things you know will never come true, you could kiss his hands and his wrists and his cheeks like you've wanted to for years. you are not lovers, though, so you stand by his side in silence.