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this is how love affairs falter,
the last of the day’s light fading into a pale blue
as you wade deeper into the wharf,
laughing at something i’ve said
reflected through your eyes, i am
shinier than i could ever be on my own
there are so many mosquitoes out
and we forgot to bring bug spray —
oh well
i’ll treat the bug bites as souvenirs
a lock of hair falls into your face
and i reach up to tuck it behind your ear,
my hand lingering
so natural

that’s the furthest we can go out here,
where everyone comes for sunset picnics
no chances can be taken
when people talk
and everyone knows her
i wonder how obvious we are,
standing so closely together
we’ve gotten a few looks already, i’m sure —
i refuse to pay attention

but still,
how i wish i could make it clear how much i like you
how i wish i’d gotten to know you
under different circumstances
what could have happened
had i met you first?

a familiar voice cuts through the comfortable silence
we break apart,
as though we’ve been caught doing something illicit
i can tell she’s seen everything,
that she knows exactly what i’m thinking
but that cordial smile never leaves her face
it’s the same one she used in middle school
when she sweet-talked our headmaster
out of giving her saturday detention
the same one she uses
when we’ve been caught doing something bad
the one she uses to get out of trouble
but she’s not the one in trouble this time

my two favorite ladies! 
her tone: bright and cheery
haven’t seen either of you in a while
she cuts between us
hikes her arm up around you,
not noticing her watch catches a few of your hairs in its clasp
have you been avoiding me? she teases
without making eye contact
my head spinning,
my heart going thumpthumpthumpthumpthump
my voice as unwavering as her own
as i answer perhaps so 
we’ve been socialized the same way, after all
but your face is pale,
betraying your true thoughts
maybe you aren’t as good of a pretender
as you believe yourself to be

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