It’s only when I close my eyes that I can really see them. They’re warm and fresh and soft to the touch, and their voices and words are the same: just as I remember them.

I wonder, sometimes, if this makes them less real.

There is a man whom I haven’t seen since he left, over a year ago. There is a boy I loved, loved, loved so much that I never found the courage to tell him. There are friends whose tears were physical injuries, and whose smiles were like sunshine on a winter morning. There are teachers who were mentors, disciplinarians and trusted friends all at once. There is a small valley full of smiles, nestled in between low stone hills aeons old, a valley whose air is a dusty gold and which has very little water and less connectivity, where I lived for four wonderful years and loved every minute.

I see all this and more, hear all this and so much more, when I shut my eyes. For the moment, they are so real that it makes me ache.

And then I open my eyes, and they are still there, like echoes of a lovely voice that refuses to be forgotten, even when the show is over and life must begin again. In that moment, when they are flickering, not quite there yet present beyond doubting, they are more real than they ever were.

I feel the sorrow if having moved on, and the keener happiness of having known them, and knowing that they are always there.

tell me, darling, do you sometimes feel that people are more real when they aren’t there?


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