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Our Love Never Fades

by Chinonso Ough

          To my darling Raph, I wish you were around to see this.
          Winter has been lovely this year. I know you always liked the way the snow fell whenever you came up to visit me. We’d watch the crystalline flakes swirl through the crisp air and collect into piles that blanketed the hillside putting everything to sleep for the coming spring. The only warmth 
came from your hand clasped around mine. It’s lonely this year without you.
          I understand your reasons for not wanting to come all the way out here. Sometimes I wish you would your way find back. We’d go to my school’s Winter Carnival. Maybe you’d even win me a stuffed penguin. I think the polar bear from last year is in need of a friend. Just like you. But I wouldn’t push you into anything, especially not now.
          Laura’s been asking about you again. She says you’re such a “dear” and wishes you well. If you needed to know you had the approval of my stepmom, there you go. Dad hasn’t said anything yet which isn’t surprising; your situation opens up old wounds for him. He tries to dissuade conversation by bringing up Aspen. 
          I hate Aspen, but I can’t stay in the dorm and there’s nowhere else to go. Laura says it’ll be fun and we’ll be just like any other family. I’m sure most people don’t routinely go to Aspen, but I know better than to argue with her especially when Dad is around.
          So, despite everything, Aspen it is.
          In other news, school is going really well. I passed my finals with what I think were flying colors. Taylor took me out to celebrate, or perhaps mourn. It’s hard to tell with her. It’s funny, I found myself sipping on hard seltzers just like you used to. Taylor kept trying to get me to do tequila shots with her. If the sharp, burning taste wasn’t already enough of a turn off, one of has to be the responsible one and we all know it was decided long ago it’d be me.

          I fly home today. Flying always makes me think of you. How you drove me to the airport and I almost didn’t get on the plane because I was crying so hard. You kissed my cheeks and reminded me I wasn’t “going away forever” even if it felt like it. There would be another year back home for you, but I was leaving although a piece of my heart was staying and it didn’t seem like anything in the world could make me go.
          You spoke with a face as serious as sin. “Don’t let anyone stop you from achieving your dreams. You didn’t let your dad stop you and I certainly won’t let me stop you either. You’re getting on that plane and someday you’re going to conquer the world.”
          I still think about those words sometimes when the world feels so hard. I don’t think I ever told you that. There’s a lot of things I never told you and I fear I might never get the chance. Why did you always think you were holding me back? I want to be with you no matter how hard things get. No matter if it tears me apart inside.
          After all this rambling I should finally ask you what you’re doing for Christmas in your world far away? If you can leave that is. Is Clarissa coming to visit you? Will you let her? I think you should, although maybe without your parents. You should ask her to bring you dinner, I doubt the food where you’re staying tastes good. There should be someone you care about at your side even if it’s not me.
          Do you think of me there? I think you. I always think of you even when I probably shouldn’t, I should be learning how to move on. But we haven’t seen each other in so long and I worry. There was nothing I wanted more than to be with you. I thought we’d get married in the winter in a field of snow so the flakes would get caught in our hair. We’d wear gloves which we’d take off dramatically during our vows to hold each other.
          I wish I could still hold you now. I wish you’d still talk to me. You haven’t said much since everything happened. We were all so swept up in our own worlds. Clarissa said you didn’t want to bother me, but you never could have. Nothing could keep me away from you.
          Maybe I can visit you in spring. Would you like that? Should I bring flowers? You probably get tons of them these days. There were the only things that could always make me happy whenever I was upset. Just them and you. I can’t move on from you so easily you know. No matter how much you might want me too. No matter how much I probably should. But they say there’s still a chance.
          I never want anything bad to happen to you, so I look forward to seeing you in the spring and staring into your eyes once again. It’ll be a sobering reminder of all the reasons I fell in love with you. I don’t think I realized what love was before I met you. I hope you know I’m with you until the very end. 
          You’re not stopping me, you’re helping me. Helping me realize what I want from this world. The world I was meant to conquer with you.

          You are mine and I am yours forever, Alaska

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