I was downtown, simultaneously running toward and running from the ghost of you, in this city where our memories are etched across the pavements like lines on a palm.

You’re holding someone else’s hand now.

It was a cold night and I slowed at the water fountain. There was a child. Unblemished and carefree, she danced in anticipation of the coming cascade. She giggled. I smiled before I could remind myself that lightheartedness had not left a forwarding address.

The water returned but, abruptly, she was in her mother’s arms again, shielded from the consequence of damp skin and night air. The child shrieked with indignation. The mother bore it with tenacious gentility.

“She will be the villain,” I thought. “This child will not understand now how this moment of pain saves her from something much more prolonged and untidy. She will only ache at losing what she waited for.”

A sudden chill breeze returned me to the world. I adjusted my jacket and resumed my pace. Before the rising full moon could summon the tide of my heartbreak, I tried to forgive you.

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