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They walked down 71st street headed toward Central Park.  His limp hand rested in her firm grip as she gently pulled him along. Last night had been another long one, he didn’t see the reason to get out of bed at all today but she insisted and his fear of losing her trumped all others. She was saying something; he turned at looked at her and saw the beginning of fear crawling into her eyes. He braced himself, sure that this was finally it. She was going to say she was leaving him. He shook his head, trying to focus on her words when he heard two loud bangs. People began to scream and someone yelled “get down!” He was reaching out to push her out of the way when he felt punched. He clutched his chest and fell backward in one motion, striking his head on the concrete. Blood poured out of the dime-sized hole, seeping between his fingers. Disembodied faces floated over him, mouths moving quickly but there was no sound until his grey eyes found a pair of sea glass greens and his free hand instinctively reached out for hers. With contact sounds came rushing back and bodies returned to their proper places among the faces but he only looked at her.

 “I had no idea,” he said breathlessly. “Life is draining out of me. I had so much…I never knew…”

“Shh…I’m here,” she said in that practiced calm while placing one delicate finger over his lips. The sea glass eyes filled with water as she took in the reality of this situation. This time the crisis was not imagined. Tears tumbled down her cheeks but her voice remained steady. “I saw the life in you when you couldn’t, it was always there.” She placed her hand over his and intertwined their fingers. The blood washed through them both as she leaned over him.

“I feel it now, so much hope and joy…I stole it all from you…” his voice collapsed into a sob and she rested her forehead on his. They stayed this way feeling his heartbeats slowing and listening to the sirens and screams around them.

“Borrowed, not stolen.” She whispered at last, her breath warm on his cooling skin. “You only borrowed hope until you found your own. I told you I’d be here when you did. I just wish it wasn’t this way.”

“I should have found it sooner, you showed me every day. Why couldn’t I see?” His voice was barely audible now and she did not reply. There was nothing left to say. Her tears covered his face and his blood soaked through her shirt on onto her chest. In this they exchanged their last—this time her fear and uncertainty for his life and peace.

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