Chapter 62 The history presentation

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We had a dog when I was little. Strictly speaking it was Linda's dog, but she named it White Fang and her responsibility ended there. White Fang wasn't a good name and it didn't stick, so we just called him Dog. I took Dog out for walks all the time and fed him under the table. The nine-year-old me would proudly tell anyone that listened how much I adored him, even more than I did my sister.

He fell ill in the end, but on some of the good days he would be in better spirits and could even run a little. That was when I thought maybe he would pull through after all. Then he got worse. It went back and forth for a while and we gradually lost hope, until it was just a matter of time before the inevitable happened.

Just because it was expected doesn't mean we weren't heart-broken when Dog left us. It was back in third grade and I hadn't thought of it for some time until now. It was bad comparing our relationship with a dead dog, but I sometimes thought maybe Flora and I would make it. When we didn't, I wasn't surprised at all.

But it still hurt like hell.

She couldn't stop crying. Every time I thought she was about to stop, a fresh supply of tears would follow, like a creek flowing after the spring rain. I didn't trust myself to comfort her. With each painful second that passed, the dampness in the room grew and I sank into somewhere darker. I felt a headache coming on.

She said I was hers but now she didn't want me anymore. I watched Flora falling apart in front of me, and instead of feeling a surge of emotions exploding in my chest, I felt as if everything was sucked out of me.

The unbearable lightness in the room made it hard to breathe. I was full with emptiness and I wanted to throw up. Other than that, a small thing at the back of my mind was starting to grow, and it was dread. I dreaded what was to come now that I had lost her. I dreaded if I could ever get over her.

It wasn't just a break up. It was breaking up with Flora, the person who was supposed to take me to Paris and straighten my tie before work everyday. The person who was supposed to always love me and accept my love in return. She stood before me, looking at me longingly, and I thought of bitter rain pelting against two hazel ponds.

She said, her voice shaky, "Can I hug you?"

I put my arms around her and held her silently for a while. Her tears seeped into my neck and burned my skin like acid.

When she raised her head and our eyes met again, I knew she honestly cared about me and believed she made the right choice for both of us. I wanted to hate her but I couldn't. I hated that I couldn't even hate her. She reached up and stroked my cheek with her right hand.

"I'm going to miss you so much," she said.

I nodded. I liked it when she touched my face, and I liked her superficiality when she told me how cute I was. I was missing her already.

Her arms tightened around me. I remembered every time we hugged, and each time it held its own significance. When we drank coffee by the skating rink and thanked each other for being there. When she came to pick me up at my house and we were relieved to get a second chance. When I found out we broke up over a misunderstanding and I thought I'd never let her go again. When we lay naked in bed together, exhausted yet satisfied that we had someone to hold on to. When we chose each other outside Jessica's house and promised we would never give up. When she gave me the best Christmas present I had ever received, and I battled against the lump in my throat.

And finally, here we were, hugging for the last time to say goodbye.

She stepped away from me first and went over to sit by my desk. She didn't seem like she was in a hurry to leave, and I wasn't ready for her to go yet, either. We both knew when she left it would be final. Right now we were trapped in a parallel universe, where one thing didn't end and the next thing didn't start. If we kept on sitting in this room together, we could relish whatever was left of us.

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