When she was still barely a girl, just on the verge of being a woman, she met a boy and quickly fell in love. She spent hours admiring the nape of his neck, his carefree laugh, his distinctive way of moving through a crowd to reach her - the unique traits that only lovers really know.

After a while, she began plucking out little pieces of her soul and gently presenting them to him. He hadn’t asked her to; she wasn’t sure why she started. She didn’t even notice she was doing it until it had been going on for quite some time. She guessed she just loved him so much that it seemed natural to make an offering, to give herself over to the momentum of it all. Besides, they would be together forever, so she could retrieve the pieces any time she needed them. She might as well share.

He did not keep hold of the pieces very well. Some were dropped, others lost among his pockets, a few seemingly discarded. He had always been a little absentminded…

When his arms were full, she thought she might like a little piece of his in return, just a tiny one to keep in her pocket, turn over in her hand when she missed him. A token. She waited patiently, certain that he would press one into her palm… but he didn’t. She waited, waited, waited longer. Finally she asked him for a piece, just a tiny one, to hold close to her during his nights away. But he shook his head.

He must be confused, she thought. He must not understand that their souls were already fitted together like a puzzle. And so she asked again. And still he shook his head.

She sighed. She pointed to all the pieces she had given him - brimming from his pockets, stashed in his drawers, messily piled in the corners of the room – and then, hesitantly, she held out her upturned palm.

He stood very still for the longest time, so still she could hear the tick of the clock. Then he shook his head. “These are my pieces. If I give them to you, what will I have?”

“I gave you mine… You will have mine,” she said.”And I will have yours.”

“Why should we give away our pieces?” he asked.

She thought for a moment. She wasn’t sure. It had just seemed natural. “I guess… I guess to… to be part of each other,” she fumbled.

He smiled. It was the smile a teacher gives a student who speaks too quickly, who has already learned the answer to the question but fails to realize it.

“Give me your hand,” he said. She placed her hand in his and he pulled it to his chest, ran it along the outline of his rib. And she felt the most intricate patterns there, thin vines wound around and over and through. She caressed another rib, and another, and there, on each one, the same elaborate design. How had she never noticed it before?

“See?” he said. “We already are part of each other. We made our marks long ago.” He gestured to the patterns. “You have always been part of me.”

 

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