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in another life

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It was just another day.

“I want to love you.”

The sun rose.

“What’s stopping you?”

Soon it would set.

“Me.”

The conversation felt heavy. Yet they had been here before. In this life time or the last - a nausea inducing nostalgia.

“Why?”

Eyes shut tight, the shaky breath exhaled, “Because I think that maybe, I would hurt you. Or maybe, you’d hurt me. I don’t want to get hurt.”

It felt ironic because it all still hurt. Real. Imagined. All of it.

“But isn’t that life? Without hurt, without adversity, who would we be? If life were like a rose with no thorns, how would we ever learn? How would we ever become better?”

There was reason – logically, it made sense – and yet still there was this chasm. It ran deep beneath the layers of outward appearance: calm, composed, compliant.

“It’s scary.”

“I know. I’m scared too. But isn’t it better to be scared with someone who might love you rather than to be scared alone?” 

What was it like, Aster mused, to believe so much that in spite of knowing heartbreak, one would still choose the risk? Aster liked predictability, control. Five bold strokes, her teacher had said, and so Aster painted none. The antithesis of boldness: fear.  

“I don’t know.”