I'm an old creaky staircase when I wake up. Someone.

His chest, heaving harder this time. His words, almost gasping this time. You destroy me.

At least I'm honest, he adds.

Every day we feel further apart. And sometimes I think the harder I try to hold on, the more she tries to break away.

So, what—you just walk right past me? Don't even say hello? He clutches the socks to his chest. I'm crushed. I saved us a table and everything.

If time stands still nothing can go wrong.

You're my bird," I tell him. "You're my bird and you're going to help me fly away.

I could live here, I think. Live where gravity does not know my name. Here I am unbound, untethered by the chains of this life. I am a different body, a different shell, and my weight is carried by the hands of friends. So many nights I've wished I could fall asleep under this sheet.

I don't want you to be repulsed by me.

There's very little I wouldn't do for you.

I peek up at his features, at the crooked grin i want to savor, at the color in his eyes i'd use to paint a million pictures.

Words are like seeds, I think, planted into our hearts at a tender age. They take root in us as we grow, settling deep into our souls.

You're perfect, I tell him, so overcome I forget myself. All of you. Your entire body.

Sometimes I wish I could step outside of myself for a while. I want to leave this worn body behind, but my chains are too many, my weights too heavy.

My eyes are filling fast with tears and I blink and blink but the world is a mess and I want to laugh because all I can think is how horrible and beautiful it is, that our eyes blur the truth when we can't bear to see it.

The drawers in my mind are rattling to break open. Memories. Theories. Whispers and sensations. I shove them off a cliff.

He can never never never know that I can touch him.

He's standing right in front of me and I miss him like I haven't seen him in years.

No more Christmas, no more Hanukkah, no more Ramadan and Diwali.

Have faith in yourself. If you don't believe you can do it, you won't.

I'm feeling stupid. I'm feeling brave because I'm feeling stupid.

Tell me what you want" he [Warner] says desperately. "Tell me what to do," he says, "and I'll do it.

Oh, life had been a lonely one, but she knew how to pass the time.

I've been here before, I tell myself. I've been lonelier than this, more hopeless than this, more desperate than this. I've been here before and I survived. I can get through this.

I am Juliette Ferrars, and I will lead this nation. I challenge anyone who would stand against me.

I kept thinking about how Id spent my entire life being a coward, and how it got me nowhere. And I knew that if I had the chance to do it all again, I'd do it differently. I promised myself I'd finally stop being afraid.

No. I refuse to believe that this is the end of us. Not if you still love me. Because you're going to get through this and I will be waiting for you when you're ready. I'm not going anywhere. There won't be another person for me. You're the only one I've ever wanted and that's never going to change.

I've been stealing your soaps, I.

I'm so close to tears I'm afraid I might scream.

You have to deal with who you are and you have to figure out how to live with it.

I am no longer afraid of fear, and I will not let it rule me. Fear will learn to fear me.

But I mean , why even have a love affair? (...) I never understood that kind of crap. If you're not happy, just leave. Don't cheat.

I'm so scared that if I move even an inch, my body will snap in half and everyone will see that my insides are made up of nothing but all the tears I'm swallowing back right now.

It's snowing today.

No one is ever close enough. I suck in my breath and wait for him to walk away like everyone else in my life. I want to smash this concrete world into oblivion. I want to be bigger, better, stronger. I want to be angry angry angry.

I have no idea where I am. I only know that I was transported by someone in a white van who drove 6 hours and 37 minutes to get me here. I know I was handcuffed.

Mortification. I'm draped in it. Painted in it. Buried in it.

I want to study the secrets tucked between his elbows and the whispers caught behind his knees. I want to follow the lines of his silhouette with my eyes and the tips of my fingers. I want to trace rivers and valleys along the curved muscles of his body.

We're here, and it's nighttime. So according to my calculations, we must not have done anything stupid.

His body presses closer and I realize I'm paying attention to nothing but the dandelions blowing wishes in my lungs.


How am I supposed to go back? How am I supposed to forget what it was like to be with you? To be loved by you?

If I hear any of you talk, Winston says, I will personally send Brendan over to kick you in the face. I am not going to kick anyone in the face. Kick yourself in the face, Brendan. I don't even know why we're friends.

Warner flexes his jaw.

He held you captive and managed to fall in love with you in the process.

My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together.

I want you to be happy," I tell him, my eyes searching his. 'I want you to have a family. I want you to be surronded by people who care about you," I say. 'You deserve that.

Maybe I imagined it. Yes. Maybe.

Truth is a jealous, vicious mistress that never ever sleeps, is what I don't tell him. I'll never be okay.