22. From dust to stars and vice versa

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 December knocked on the window with its dirty rain and dismal skies. It used to be hard getting up at 7am, rolling out of comfy duvets and stepping on a goosebumping cold floor. But now that I had Noemi by my side I learnt to fall in love with mornings.

Weeks passed, yet every time I saw her, it was as if I was seeing her for the very first time. As if I had never lost myself in her deep green eyes. As if the constellation of freckles on her red cheeks had never been explored by me at least a thousand times. As if I didn't know the taste of her lips, and I was just desperate to find out. Falling for her, over and over again, was a sweet routine. Familiar, yet surprisingly new every time I saw her. She changed constantly, and yet, she was still the Noemi I knew, the Noemi I loved. And I loved her so much.

I adored each shade of her personality, each scar of her soul, each flaw. Sometimes her joyful laughter melted into a silent sadness and it was peaceful and melancholic. And she wondered why stars had to turn into black holes and why so many artists were miserable. And she asked me questions I didn't have an answer to, things I didn't want to think of. And that's why I loved her.

We immersed ourselves in books and kisses, always discovering something about each other and ourselves. She got an A on her Physics test, I got an A on my analysis of Pirandello. I helped her with History, she helped me with Math. We went to the aquarium, we went to the museum. We danced like goofs to the tunes of My Sharona by The Knack and Always Alright by Alabama Shakes. I rode her to school to the beat of MezzoSangue's rap and she wrote his lyrics on her sketchbook. She came to my basketball games and rooted for me like a crazy fangirl. In the weekends, we hopped on random trains and buses and got lost in the dynamics of the world.

Guitar lessons, basketball training, school. My life was a busy mess. And I loved it.

I didn't have time to hang around the city with a joint in my hand. Not that anyone invited me. We were still friends, I guess. But it felt different. I think I was the other friend now, not the friend I wanted to be. Being with Noemi was great, but there was this little corner of my heart that felt a little empty. I missed them. I missed our Friday sushi nights, our lazy afternoons of cigarettes and mundane conversations. I didn't smoke anymore, but that didn't mean I didn't want to talk to them. Our toxic habits weren't the only thing we had in common, were they? Some songs were to be listened to in the intimacy of two hearts, but others were to be yelled out tuned at 2am in a car full of people or in a room full of stars.

They always stood by the low wall and I always came by to say hi. At the end I walked away with Noemi hand in hand, but sometimes I wished I stayed longer.

Today the sun fought through the heavy clouds and shadows of rays warmed our skin. The sky was smiling and Virginia was too. There was something different about her. Everyone knew that. Everyone noticed. She was shining again. Babbling and laughing and being the Virginia Colombo we all knew. No, not just that. Now she was better. She walked with straight shoulders, she didn't suck her stomach in nor tried to hide her skin. She didn't surprise us with a new hairstyle every morning like she used to, but she showed off her strawberry locks in the simplicity of their beauty. Her make up looked more natural now, her smile more honest. Of course, not everything was perfect yet, but she was busy – oh, so busy!

As soon as she reached me and Noemi, she started rambling like a little child. "Hi, Pit! Hey, you're Noemi, right? I'm Virginia. Oh, it's so nice to meet you. You guys look adorable. Pit, why hadn't you never introduced me to your girlfriend? She's a sweetheart."

Noemi seemed amazed by her energy and sometimes uttered a few words, but it was mostly Virginia who carried the conversation, unable to stop. And all I did was grin like an idiot, because seeing them getting along warmed my heart. When we reached Dario and Gaia, they both surveyed Noemi with their eyes as though she was of another species. The two girls, immersed in their conversation, didn't notice. But I did.

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