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Love Letter

Do you remember?

Seeing you again was so strange- you were so much different than the scrawny, pumpkin-faced boy who pelted me with water balloons and went treasure hunting with Toby and I at the lake when we were tweens. I never noticed how pretty your eyes were then; a soft, sea-green and grey that made me think of shallow rivers and rainy mornings. You'd gotten tall, and I hated the way you made the blood rush to my face and my thoughts scatter so that nothing came out right. I was so afraid you'd feel my heart beating through my fingertips when I held your hand or that you'd be able to hear it when we got squished together against the doors of the subway. Part of me wishes I had just kissed you then instead of laughing awkwardly and ducking away, but at the same time, I'm glad that I didn't. After all, you were still you.

I've been finding a lot of coins over the last few weeks, and it reminds me of you. I still pray for you, Nastia, your father, and little Victor, and hope you are safe. Sometimes I worry that you aren't alive anymore, or that you're mangled and bloody on some foreign battlefield. You've spent so many years on them already, digging up history and reuniting lost souls with their families. I hope there are never fresh bones in those fields; you were never meant for war.

I pray for your mother too, and my heart breaks a little whenever I think of her. I know how that kind of despair feels, and nearly leapt into that abyss myself, but I remember how haunted poor Sergey was afterwards, and pull myself back from the edge. I firmly believe she's with Jesus and we'll see her again soon, somewhere where pain is only a memory and she's just beautiful, smiling Masha. Someday, we can all drink tea again and talk about our lives without my tongue tangling over a language barrier or a lying, lecherous snake infiltrating our table. I like to think she has a little dacha in heaven somewhere, with flowers painted on the windows and an enormous garden in the back. Somewhere wonderful and happy.

I wish I could see you all again. I found your photos recently and it made me smile- I know exactly who put you up to it. It's hard to believe how young we look. I know you'll never read this, but I'm glad you were my inaugural teenage crush, and the first to ever fill my head with butterflies, even if you never knew it. I think you did though; I still have that pretty white seashell bracelet you got me from the Black Sea and I remember almost dying with embarrassment when you took my hand slipped it over my wrist for me with everyone watching. I'm also glad that not everything I experienced relating to matters of the heart were lies, manipulation, or violence- there was a sweetness when you were there, and an innocence that I remember fondly.

Even if I no longer experience warm fuzzies thinking of you and simply remember you as my friend, I'm grateful. Wherever you are, I hope you are safe and still have sunshine in your soul, and that big, jack-o-lantern smile that will forever make me think of s'mores, summer days, and unwarrented waterfights.

《Величайший дар жизни - это дружба, и я получил[а] его.》


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