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those two words are bullets to my chest, just friends 

5:00am July 14th, 2017

I let you sit on the inside seat. It always makes you feel safe, and I don’t mind the outside, nor do I mind sitting beside you. 

It’s something another friend commented on once to me in private. How you and I never sit across from each other on the metro, but always beside one another. I didn’t think anyone else was paying attention to us.. I didn’t think anyone else had noticed. The observation makes me wary about how we act in front of others, but only because I don’t know what the hell we are. 

But drunk at 5:00am in the morning, observations nor inhibitions really matter now, do they? 

You leaned your head against my shoulder and directed my attention to the window on your other side. 

It caught my breath, and a comfortable silence ensued between us. 

The sun was beginning to climb between the stairs of clouds – diligent dawn. I had never seen the Berlin sky this shade of blue, snippets of pink and orange piercing through the light. 

Finally our stop came, and I asked if you wanted to watch the sunrise. 

“Absolutely,” you said playfully, mimicking my voice I use to mimic our professor, “wouldn’t have expected not to with you.” 

So we climbed up the stairs to the platform, which overlooks the city. It is perhaps one of the best sunset spots in all of Berlin. Who knew it would also become a favorite view for the sunrise, too. 

I immediately leaned against the railing, both of my arms dangling over the top, after snapping a few quick pics. I wanted to enjoy this moment – a beautiful sky with a beautiful girl – a girl I wasn’t supposed to find beautiful. But that’s the thing about sunsets, right? Doesn’t matter if no one is watching, they’re still beautiful. It’s how I ultimately feel about you, too. 

You stayed a few steps behind me, taking your own pics. I let you do your thing without too much fuss. Nothing could pull my attention away from the one thing I love the most: the sky, in all its wondrous, mysterious forms. 

And then effortlessly you did something that broke my concentration. Your arms wrapped around my body and I felt the heat of your breath against the side of my face. 

Initially, it made me clench up – because it made me feel vulnerable. As physically affectionate as I am, even with friends, I don’t tend to let people hold me. It’s usually me doing the holding. I don’t know why, but I find it such an.. intimate gesture to let someone hold me. To let someone experience me this unguarded. To let someone make me feel safe – in a romantic way. 

I thought you were just going to hug me and let go, but you kept your arms linked around my body. It’s the closest we had physically been since I had tried to unsuccessfully kiss you a few weeks prior. 

Well, it was the closest I had let you get to me since then. In the weeks after our awkward half-kiss, I stopped being affectionate with you. Even as just friends, because I didn’t want to confuse myself with more mixed signals. I didn’t want to trick myself into thinking you liked me the way I liked you. And once I stopped initiating physical contact with you, well, then you started to take lead — and I will never understand women. 

So I let you hold me. I gave in to desire. I think you did, too. I leaned my head against your chest, and we stayed in silence watching the sunrise for a good 15 minutes. 
And in that minuscule window of infinity, nothing else mattered beyond the small magical world of us. Just you, me, and the sky signaling a new day. 

Then you loosened your grip from my body and also leaned against the railing, your arms also dangling over the top. 

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it? I see why you like it so much.” 

I moved my arm between the two of yours, and the tips of our fingers linked together. I knew I shouldn’t have – I had been resisting for the last few weeks to not touch you. But after being held by you, my mind kind of just said fuck it, you’ve just let this girl hold you, might as well enjoy it to the maximum. 

“I love it, so much. It’s always what I miss about home. The vibrancy of the colors. Do you know what else I love?”

You turned your gaze on me, the blue of your irises bright, while the white of your eyes a light shade of pink. Sunrise, looked like morning in your eyes. 

“What’s that?”

I turned my head to the side, to the opening entrance of the station. 

“Look at all the people who have stopped to see the sunrise, and all of them taking pictures. What I love is watching busy people stop to admire beauty, recognizing it, and acknowledging it.” 

I looked back at you, and saw you smiling at me, the sunrise steadily growing more business blue than passion pink. 

You and that ridiculous smile, with your ridiculously cute dimples that makes me feel like a ridiculous girl with a ridiculous crush. 

“I think the best part of it is over, shall we?” 

I nodded in agreement, and turned around to walk towards our apartment building. But not before feeling your hand slip between mine. 

It surprised me, honestly. I didn’t think we’d hold hands again. I thought our small moment of weakness was over. It felt too intimate for me, for us, for “just friends.” Or whatever the hell we were trying to be. 

But it also felt normal, comfortable, even. We are used to each other, physically and emotionally, as it seems. 

I’ve watched many sunsets with many people. It’s something I love to do with my loved ones. It’s always been so special to me. 

But this morning, I learned to love the sunrise just as much. It’s the first time I’ve deliberately watched it with someone. I’m having so many firsts with you. 

But I don’t know how long this lasts.. how long we last. 


Berlin, Germany 

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3:17am

I thought of texting you last night 

“we are under the same sky, and yet, we see such different things, have a good night” 

and then it reminded me

you are on a journey 

that I am no longer a part of 

and that’s okay 

but 

hi, have a good night 

I can’t sleep 


Grütz, Germany 

sunset self-reminders 

in the end 

all that really matters is love 

who you loved 

how hard you loved 

how much you loved 

everything else is just secondary 

so love deeply and love often 

human connection is so important 

even if it hurts, it’s still worth it 

love will always be worth it 


Berlin, Germany 

raspberries are red

It wasn’t a perfect day for weather — but it was a perfect day for Berlin.

 

Although, the rain did prove to threaten my plans for the day, you still wanted to meet.

 

I waited for you outside of our apartment building. Warschauer Strasse. One of the main hubs of Berlin, always bustling with busy bodies and enthusiastic drug induced tourists. The energy of the day was especially electric due to the kultural festival — an entire weekend filled with foods from all over the world and multiple music stages displaying local bands galore. I had been the previous night with friends, and ended up eating my life worth in Argentinian empanadas and pad thai.

 

My friends told me not to take you there, at least not to start off with. It was too loud for a first date — too chaotic. But I disagreed, I liked the noise, I liked the colors, the distractions from awkward conversation.

 

However, I took their advice. Instead, I suggested we started out with a photography exhibition from one of my favorite photographers, Mario Testino. I had already seen an installation of his in both Madrid and NYC.

 

So around 15:15 you finally met me outside. You were late, and I had counted on it. I was on time, and I’m never on time unless I’m nervous. But I needed the time to calm my nerves. Truthfully, I don’t know why I was wound up about it. I had spent time with you before, but in groups, and our flirtatious conversation and affectionate ambiguity had been taken lightly. I never let myself take romance too seriously. I don’t know if that’s because of my own insecurity or because I’m as laid back as I claim. Maybe, a mixture.

 

You looked nice though. You were in color — green and pink specifically. Mentally, I noted your favorite colors. I liked this about you, the vibrancy.

 

You smiled and we greeted, and then we were on our way.

 

The metro ride was particular. I couldn’t look at you, or else I would have just kept smiling like an idiot. So I never kept eye-contact with you for longer than normal. Plus, my uncomfortable habit of looking at someone in the eyes too long — I didn’t want to make things awkward within the first 10 minutes.

It took us about 30 minutes to get to the other side of Berlin, to the museum that hosted the exhibition. Turns out, the museum had the wrong address on their website and the installation was actually in a sister building about another 20 minutes away. However, by the time we would have gotten there, we wouldn’t have had enough time to see it properly.

 

“We’re going to laugh about this later in the future,” I noted, a bit disappointed.

 

“Why later? It’s funny now,” you answered back, with your dimpled smile.

 

So instead, we decided on having a drink, at a Mexican restaurant called Que Pasa.

 

Was I tempted to have a real drink, and by real, I mean alcoholic? Yes, absolutely. Especially since it was already 5pm. But I didn’t.

 

My desire to want to spend time with you sober superseded it. The times we had hung out together with our group of classmates had always somehow involved ending up drunk, and us walking home together. I’d walk you to courtyard between the both of our buildings just talking and star-gazing. Well, what little star-gazing you can do in a city of clouds — undoubtedly drunk. You even invited me into your apartment once, but I didn’t make a move. I didn’t want to and I also didn’t know what was going on. I just wanted to enjoy whatever was happening without moving too fast.

 

So I chose a Sprite instead.

 

You drank a hot chocolate.

 

And we talked about family and aspirations and school for a few hours over a loaded plate of nachos.

 

You told me you were a vegetarian for a few years of your life. So I found it ironic when you chose chicken to coat the chips. Well, we all have our guilty pleasures, I suppose.

 

Afterwards, I asked if you wanted to go to the festival and check it out. What I meant was — do you want to try all the food stalls with me and dance around and be fools together?

 

You aren’t originally from Berlin, but have lived here for a good four or so years, minus your year abroad in Korea. But you had never been to the festival. It’d be your first time too, and I was happy to experience this with you.

 

We walked around for an hour or so, before you decided on what you wanted to eat. A delicacy from Hungary — I can’t quite remember the name, but it’s their version of a pizza coated with garlic, a white yogurt sauce, and cheese — again, you also added meat: salami, this time. Said it reminded you of your father.

 

“You’re going to have to deal with me eating a lot of garlic… hope you don’t mind.”

 

I found the comment odd, but I didn’t mention it. Just said I wanted to try it how it’s meant to be eaten.

 

So we sat at the picnic tables put out beside the food stand, which was also placed right beside one of the many musical stages of the festival. It was a German group playing songs in many different languages. French, English, German.

 

We stayed watching them for 20 minutes or so, while you ate. We hardly spoke at all. But it wasn’t uncomfortable. In fact, it’s one of my favorite things to find in a person. when you can shut the fuck up with them and still have fun.

 

Once you finished, we got up to leave. I walked ahead of you into the crowd, while the band continued overhead playing a song. I didn’t understand the lyrics, but I figured it must be German since I couldn’t catch any French.

 

Then I felt your hand on my shoulder and I turned around to look at you.

 

“Kiss me now, and I will be in paradise in Heaven.”

 

I am sure the look on my face betrayed me. I’m not that great of a liar. So after a few seconds of looking into each other’s eyes, I blurted out, “What?”

 

“It’s the lyric they just sang,” you said, as you smiled casually and then led me out of the crowd.

 

I closed my eyes and followed you, wondering if that was what the song had really said — wondering if I had missed my chance.

 

But let’s be real. I didn’t know if we were on a date or not, honestly.

 

A few days earlier, we had gone on a picnic with my group of friends. I had invited you, and you accepted. There was lots of food and lots of alcohol — two of my favorite things. So naturally, we got very inebriated.

 

Afterwards, we walked from the park to my friend’s house to continue our day of fun. While we strolled to theirs, you and I somehow ended up side by side. I can’t quite recall what got us onto the topic but we had both mentioned how we wanted to hangout, but not get super drunk. Since the past few times had all ended very drunk, but that’s what happens in large groups of socialization.

 

“We should make a date out of it.”

I was pretty intoxicated at this moment already, but I remember it. The “date” word. It took me by surprise.

 

“Yeah, okay, we should.” Then I asked when and we were trying to figure it out, but got interrupted by our friends and their intruding conversations.

 

So when we finally decided to meet up, just us two, it was never explicitly stated if this was our date or not. I wasn’t even sure you remembered what you said, or if it was just drunken words, so I didn’t bring it up. I just thought I’d go out with you and figure it out during. If nothing else, I wanted to be your friend at least. 

 

That was a dumb idea — but also very brilliant because it took the pressure off of a label.

 

After eating, we decided to check out the parade. So we followed the crowd into the fray. You put your arm on my shoulder to keep hold of me. I was too nervous to grab your hand. I had told you previously in a different hang out how intimate holding hands was to me, possibly more important than kissing.

 

So I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable — even though we had already held hands in the club, but that was different. I was drunk and friendly then.

 

Now, I was sober and interested — and that’s a deadly combination, for me. Once we got to the street the parade was on, the crowd tightened. So we crossed the street to the other side to be on the less busy part, or so we thought. Once there, we realized how packed it was, too. I let you stand in front to see, and I stood behind you.

 

One of the first floats we saw represented Ghana. The truck had a DJ and many dancers in the back. And there was a massive following of Ghanaians dancing around the truck to afro-beats and their own mix of reggae. This excited the energy in the crowd. People were chanting in solidarity and enjoyment, and dancing around with bottles in hand. You turned to look at me, with the biggest smile.

 

“This is awesome, look at all the colors and dress they’re wearing!”

 

I grinned back at you in response, and for the life of me, I cannot remember how it happened. I know for sure I didn’t exclusively go for your hand.

 

But I know it wasn’t just you either.

 

It just happened.

 

And there we were, in the middle of a huge raging crowd, looking at each other, our fingers intertwined.

 

You turned back around, and I expected you to let go. But you didn’t. Instead you gave my hand a small squeeze, and we stayed that way for a long while, watching the rest of the parade. I couldn’t concentrate much anymore though.

 

All I could feel was the heat between our skin, and how nice it was to hold your hand — but also how confusing.

 

We decided to cross and go back to the festival grounds to get more food — as I hadn’t eaten yet and was getting hungry.

 

There was a knot in my stomach, but it wasn’t from hunger. I realized in this beautiful moment that it was the first time I have ever held hands with another girl openly. Without shame, without secrets, without guilt.

 

I’m 25 and before that Sunday, I had never held hands with another girl so freely. Not with my fling I had before I moved to Spain, and not with my almost 4 year relationship. Not with any of the girls I “dated” in between, either. I hadn’t felt comfortable enough with myself yet.

 

And here I was, holding hands with a beautiful girl. A girl who didn’t make me feel like I needed to hide what I felt.

 

And you know, her and I can turn out to be nothing. We could stop talking today and never speak again — and I will always remember this moment, and how she was and always will be part of a very important experience for me.

 

Maybe this is why holding hands is so intimate for me. Because I’ve never done it before with someone and it felt so… normal.

 

No one gave us weird looks, or ridiculed us, or said anything out of the ordinary.

 

But it was you, too. You didn’t pull back, or make it feel awkward. Just comfortable.

 

I can’t describe it properly, how it made me feel. Just that it felt so normal. It’s the first time in my life, I’ve felt like a girl who likes another girl and that’s normal.

 

I’m sure at the end of the night, I could have tried to kiss you.

 

I didn’t want to though. Why ruin the moment? It was enough for me, to have your hand in mine.

 

A little after midnight, we decided to go to a bar. One of my favorites. Madame Claude. I only had one beer — one. That’s it. At a bar, filled with alcohol. Guess I was enjoying you so much. You intoxicated me.

 

We stayed until about 4:30am, when we decided it was time to go home. Time had escaped me. I couldn’t believe we had spent nearly 14 hours together. I had mentioned it to you at the bar. How I had other plans just in case our hangout was awkward, and you told me the same. You had been out until 4/5am the past few nights and were really tired. And had you not been enjoying yourself, you would have used this as a reason to excuse yourself earlier.

 

We both laughed harder than we meant to, I think. It was good to know I wasn’t the only one nervous.

 

As we walked home, some random drunk guy asked you for sex in German. Said you guys could do it really fast. You scoffed and turned him down. But he kept trying to talk to you. I really didn’t understand anything at the moment, with my limited German skills.

 

But then I felt your hand slip through my arm, and you pulled yourself closer to me. I knew that feeling perfectly, without you having to explain. You felt safe around me, and kept your arm looped in mine. You walked close to me, on the way home. Eventually, dropping your arm to hold my hand instead.

 

“You’re comfortable to be around.” You said, before letting go of my hand so I could open the door for us.

 

We stood at the base of the stairs. Normally, I would walk you to the courtyard between our buildings up to your door to your building. I don’t know why, but I didn’t this time.

 

I just hugged you, and you held on to me for longer than a regular hug.

 

“I know you’re tired, so I’ll let you sleep.”

 

You smirked at me, and said breathlessly between us, “I had a really good time.”

 

“Me too.” I held your gaze for a few silent moments. Even in the dark, your blue eyes were crystal clear.

 

And then I watched you walk away — and I couldn’t help but wonder, if it was a date or not.

 

But I knew, even if it wasn’t, I’d always remember it for more important reasons.

Orion’s Belt

Tender

Art hated her name. It was a reoccurring thought she had many times, as daydreaming always seemed to lead back to this point. She couldn’t help it; she wasn’t one for attention — especially as a painter.

“You create art, yet hate Art.”

“Is that your real name, or some sort of starving artist alias?”

Once a boy had tried to charm her with, “You are Art.”

Regretfully after, she had let him kiss her.

Ironically, in one of her sketch journals, she had begun writing down all the quotes she had thus far heard from her name. On the cover, she had painted in angry bold blocked letters, “NOT ART.”

*****

Art sat in the bus, nervously. Her glorious yellow chariot seemed to be taking longer than normal to get to her destination. She rolled her eyes, half annoyed at her self, half impatient with the uncooperative weather. The rain drizzled patiently down the window beside her. She leaned her forehead against the cold, damp glass and watched each droplet race downwards. She tried to choose the bead of water that would make it all the way down the window first.

After a few unsuccessful attempts at trying to distract her thoughts, Art wondered what her visit to the doctor’s would entail.

She felt awkward about the situation. It wasn’t like she hadn’t been to the gynecologist before, for her annual checkups. But this was different. She thought further back to two weeks ago. The weather had been the same, it’s the only reason she could recall the memory so vividly. Embarrassingly enough, it had been her twin brother who had convinced her to take a pregnancy test. So there she was, locked up alone in his apartment while he was away at work. He had bought the test for her and had it set on the counter inside the bathroom.

Why the hell am I doing this? She had been repeating the question over and over to her self. But she took the test anyway, because she was sure of her virtue. Above all else, Art loved experience. However, her idea of experience seemed to differ from others. She admired the experience of not experiencing. Defiantly enough, she had initially rejected her brother’s help, claiming her status as a virgin proudly.

But the test came up positive, and her brother became negative about her declaration.

*****

“Nice book you’ve got there, Not Art.”

Art blinked over her dried eyes a few times, so that the person in front of her came to focus.

“Can I sit by you?”

Art nodded nonchalantly, and scooted over for her friend, Hades.

“What’s up Hade?” Art asked automatically, absentmindedly, anxiously.

“Going in for work, actually. This weather is kind of suiting, don’t you think?”

Art thought about it for a silent moment, and began laughing hysterically and uncontrollably.

Hade was a mortician — and he loved his name.

The Door

Avid

Uncertainty was her only certain emotion at the moment. Delphine stood stoic and still outside the familiar house, just a few steps away from the front door. She had been here plenty of times before, in her youth, and what to her, seemed like an imaginary lifetime ago. Her fingers nervously fidgeted with the hem of her shirt, unsure of what next to do with her hands. She had options: she could knock, or perhaps ring the doorbell, neither of which put her at ease. Instead, Delphine lit a cigarette. She turned her back on the house to face the street and inhaled her first drag of smoke, while closing her eyes. The taste lingered until it left her mouth dry, then travelled down her throat, finally coating her lungs in a warm blanket. Once she exhaled, she felt much noticeably lighter. She could do this, she thought, as she squeezed her eyes closed tighter, she could —

“Delphine, is that you? Hey, Delph!”

Delphine’s eyes fluttered open confused, as she dropped her cig. Shit, she muttered under her breath, while using the tip of her boot to smash out the ashes. When she finally looked up, there leaning against the old wooden mailbox was a familiar face she once called friend. Delphine attempted a sardonic smile, and waved him over excitedly, “It’s been awhile, Oliviero.”

He scoffed playfully, while walking up the driveway and towards Delphine with his arms open, “Oliviero huh? Who am I, my father?”

Delphine laughed and hugged her old neighborhood best friend, “I would have never recognized you, Oli. With your tie and suit! When did you become so serious?”

Oli took a step back away from Delphine, her shoulders still in his hands, to get a better look at her up close. He wanted to answer, “When you left.” But immediately decided against it, and instead responded with, “What are you doing back? Never thought we’d see you again.”

Delphine noticed the masked pain in his voice, and put her hand over Oli’s. She gave the back of his hand a small squeeze before both his arms dropped back to his side. Solemnly, Delphine answered instinctively with the first thought that came to her mind, “I never thought I’d be back either. Not — not, after Finley… well, you know.”

Oli winced at the surprising mention of Delphine’s deceased twin brother’s name. He managed a small forced smile, and rubbed the scruff on his face out of habit. Of course he knew, everyone knew, it was the tragedy of their small town. He could sense Delphine’s growing discomfort and redirected the conversation, suddenly realizing whose house they were lounging in front of, “So have you kept in touch with Catherine then?”

Delphine laughed nervously, and dodged his stare. She could hear the teasing in Oli’s tone of voice. “Not as much as I should have, apparently. What about you?”

“I’m actually working for her father’s firm, now.” Oli paused, and watched Delphine sway side to side, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. He wondered what she was thinking about. He wanted to ask, but he didn’t want her to shut him out so soon… again. However, he wanted answers, and he knew how to coax Delphine into giving them. “She’s getting married, you know.”

At this, Delphine perked up, a pang of pressure in her chest waiting to erupt, and met Oli’s crystal blue eyes. So it was true? Oli hesitated for a moment in the silence, and then asked what he had been itching to ask since the moment he saw Delphine, “She’s why you came back, right?”

Delphine opened her mouth to protest, to reassure herself she was only back in town to salvage her brother’s possessions before her mother sold her childhood home — but nothing came out. Instead, the creaking sound of the front door opening, interrupted the stillness, and Delphine heard Cat’s voice for the first time in three very long years.

“What the hell are you doing with her, Oli?”