Are You for Real?

If love is the light that dissolves all the walls, why did it make these ones thicker? What you did was ultimately love, I know. Well, mixed with the quiet desperation of never making it outside the realm of Almost There. You wanted out so badly that you made love up. Love was going to work for you so well. You told me that so many times. But it’s made me like you less and less as I witnessed it all. I couldn’t help it. I feel bitter, resentful, and downright angry, even though I know the truth—that this love isn’t real.

There is nothing to be jealous of. This is all make-believe, I know. And yet here I am, standing still at the door of your made-up world, gathering my strength to knock, to be let in, to not let it show; how jealous I am. How mad I am. How unforgiving I find it all, and how beautiful I find it all, and how unbelievable I find it that you went through with it all. I’m standing in front of it, trying to make myself believe in the lie that you turned into truth right before our eyes. I just can’t get over you making the ugly this beautiful.

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Some Words, the Way They Look at You

Picture this: there is an empty space next to you at the table. You make it the shape of everything you need. Now you say hello. This is you at your best, also known as Your Strength, but you haven’t been properly introduced yet. You don’t know what it is, and you don’t know that it’s yours. You only know that you like its presence. You let it vanish as you keep doubting your power.

Or you walk to work, heels echoing on the pavement, a bit of warmth from bed still clinging to you. You take a seat on the bus and fall asleep to the sound of traffic. The night before, you sat at your desk, hoping it would knock on your door, take off its wet clothes and join you by the fire. Add a glass or two of red wine to the picture.

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Love on Toast

I curl up in the empty bed. I can’t get warm. When I don’t write, the warmth trickles out little by little. My body keeps the score. Have you expressed yourself lately? it asks. I sigh. I can’t write when I can’t feel. What am I supposed to do? My heart is elsewhere, and I don’t always know how to bring it back home.

I was told there is a hardness to my eyes where there once used to be light. I curl into my shell like a snail. The words hurt then, and hurt now. I remember the way I felt those days—desperate not to be the girl with the soft eyes and the even softer heart, ashamed that I was—and I just want to melt back into them. But the trouble now is that I can’t. One summer there was no girl left in me. Whatever has grown back since simply doesn’t feel the same.

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Say Hi to My Feelings

Sure I’m mad—but behind the anger, frustration, and hatred there’s only sadness. The other layers aren’t even real. I made them up to cover it up. Boredom is rage spread thin, and sadness is grief the same way. There’s just so much love inside me, and it’s got nowhere to go from here. I’ve got nothing to do with it. I spend my days watching it die.

I hit Replay like a madman. It tricks my brain into thinking we’re working on it. In the background there’s always me asking, ‘Can you still love me, despite of this?’, where this is me, followed by a pause. I wait to hear yes, like a blessing, like permission to rest, like forgiveness for being the way I am. But the answer remains radio silence. It sounds like no even when it doesn’t sound like anything at all, and it’s making me bitter and mean and impatient.

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Taking Shelter

‘How odd, I can have all this inside me and to you it’s just words.’ – David Foster Wallace

It’s been another year. Let me pull you gently now and take a good look at you. You are vibrant and gorgeous, and your mind is insanely cool. But you say, ‘I am trying to be you, but I am not you,’ and your hands are cold and don’t remember how to rub together, and your legs are restless and follow imaginary circles on the kitchen floor. I swear I don’t know what to say.

The right thing would be, ‘But you are me,’ but I know you wouldn’t believe that. Not now, after the year you’ve had. You think you’re light years away from what you dreamed of becoming by now. I get it. You need more time to come back to yourself. You need more time to come back to me.

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You Call That a Knife? This Is A Knife.

I write fiction because it feels less intrusive. We invent the worlds we need to make sense of reality. It’s a safe space to enjoy taste the juicy goodness of the present moment, or stretch your heart open to let the vague foggy sadness out. No one has any idea what you’re doing, and it looks interesting and fun to watch. But writing is always confessional. The need to hide is always crushed by the weight and weirdness of the need to confess. And suddenly your characters start talking to themselves or to each other, and there lies everything you want to say.

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I Miss, Therefore I Am

I want to believe in God, but I doubt that He’d believe in me if I were to make Him up again. I’ve been staring into space for so long now, and not once have I felt like we could get along again, even if I let Him exist again out of sheer desperation. It wouldn’t be like when I was little and He was bigger than the world, which was hard to imagine even for an imaginative child. Hell no. It would probably be more like, ‘Ok, you can come out of the bottle now, I’ve got my three wishes, are you ready?’ I shake my head—in disbelief, I might add—and laugh to myself, and it rattles something awake inside me. It’s bittersweet to let myself feel something, however small. I remain true to my tendency to shut down in moments of crisis. It’s just that I’m not sure this, too, shall pass.

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Getting Ready to Meet the Devil

from a work in progress

Towns at rest, people on their way home, intermittent patches of glitter and dark everywhere, all the little things that make up life danced restlessly through her lashes. Leaning her head against the car window, Kara felt wide awake with fear and curiosity. Houses rolled past her by like a tracking shot in a movie, blurring and disappearing from her view the next moment. But they didn’t hold her interest for long. The passenger seat (the safe haven) and the speed (a delicious break from the reality of the moment) were half-assing their jobs too. On the other side of the car, Tomás kept giving sighs of helpless irritation, distracting her from her attempt to stay distracted.

‘Damn you,’ she muttered softly to herself, burying her face in her coat.

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How to Be Your Own Story

When you fictionalise your life you have to invent some of the words yourself—the way they taste, the way they sound in the air—and twist them until no one can tell what hell you pulled them out of. When they ask, you tell them you read a lot as a kid, and then you let them poke at your surface to give them some clarity. They don’t need to know how you encouraged yourself to leave the mind and step onto the paper, with all your words held tightly in your arms. How you were careful not to drop them and break the memories from which they came. How much time you spent reshaping them until they no longer looked like the story beneath the story. No. They don’t need to know that the words are you. You need to tell them that you were inspired by books and movies and general knowledge, and get on with your life as if art were just an insignificant part of it that you inexplicably swallowed whole the first time you tried it. No big deal.

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The Storm Before the Calm

Takes a deep breath and exhales. Pauses for a moment. Then begins to type.

It’s been months now. It feels longer, like this has always been my life. If you knew what was raging inside me, you too would see the flat cloud formation at the top of the storm. I rain over myself, pull up all the roots, violently sweep everything out of my heart. Something’s got to give. I’ve always been the kind of girl attracted to darkness like mosquitoes are to light. I like a good fight with life. You can never win, but you can’t get any closer to sharing the reins with God either. Even if you know you’re going in the wrong direction and have to give them back.

What can I say? The voice of reason is soft, and my heart is so fucking loud.

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Writer Girl, Interrupted

From the height of my balcony, the world seems smaller, easier to tame. Easier to love. Sunlight lay across my knees. I feel like an episode of my life, one that keeps repeating. One I can not bear to hear myself type alive and put on an imaginary shelf. ‘This past doesn’t need to be reused in the future,’ I repeat like a mantra, biting my lips and fingers and thoughts. No blood comes out, only hurt. I am not even brave enough to bite hard.

I sit there quietly, late into the night. I’m feeling everything, everywhere. My intensity is both a blessing and a curse. It brings with it a great responsibility, and an even greater need for transparency. Not for the faint of heart. I love with both my hands and all of my fingers. When I hurt, I hurt in every colour, from every angle and in every light. Other feelings are bland, beige, tasteless. Mine grow into a thick, coarse darkness that I have to kick until it bleeds daylight all over again.

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In Praise of Blood and Noise

The morning was only growing colder. The streets were still dark. He crept through the streets, staring as if through a window, drenched in old, haunting images of days that now seemed to never have been.

He stood waiting, coughing. The cold of the night had gotten into him. The lamp by the bed was broken, and so he lay in the dark for the best part of the night, counting the hours until dawn. There was a strange rage inside him, and it was fascinating to be so angry.

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On Fire, But Not Burning

Melanie is the product of someone’s imagination, a character in a story that is still being written. As she develops—as she is developed—she begins to question her existence in between her maker’s writing sessions. Why can’t she remember her childhood? What do the blank spaces mean? Why does she not feel free in the world? And most importantly, what if she wrote a book in which the main character is much better, stronger, and more beautiful than she could ever be? After all, books are written all the time, and always for the same reason, she suspects.

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Just Another Love Letter

this post was published in Letters of Love

I hope this letter finds you alive—all senses and engines burnings—and well. It might find you waiting in line at the Christmas market. It might find you taking a break from sitting in the sun. It might find you in your most uncomfortable outfit, a little too full of life to start cleaning the kitchen and a little too empty now that everyone’s gone. It might find you in the light, in the dark, in the back of his favourite café, in foreign places, in your parents’ car, in between her cream-coloured pillows, before, after, in the midst of chaos—only, I hope, not too late.

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I Am a Work of Fiction

Every second of the day is a question that only I can answer—and, because it keeps asking, I am no longer giving it the truth. I say this, but it could have easily been something else, and the best part is that lightning does not strike me when I push back my sleeves and work out a different answer than the day before. Nothing really happens at all if I get bored of repeating myself. I am inventing, creating myself, one hot minute at a time. I am rarely who I make myself out to be for long.

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No Matter How Many of My Cells are Replaced

‘I write because nobody listens’ was the first thing I noticed about her. She had scribbled this sentence on the first page of a notebook left open on the table. She had flaming red hair, wore little makeup and wore a loose black dress. There was a homemade sign hung on the wall that read We serve freshly ground coffee, and there was a faint scent of cinnamon in the air. I quickly ordered an espresso and could think of nothing but days with her. It wasn’t long before the light in her eyes went out. Ah, the implications of a smile.

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‘The world is not made up of atoms; it’s made up of stories.’ – Muriel Rukeyser

‘A week? A whole damn week?’ she complained.

That wasn’t what she had planned for. But then again, it wasn’t her who’d planned it. in the first place. Rolling her eyes at the sudden, unpleasant thought, she walked slowly across the room to the window. She stared out absently, wrapping her arms around herself, feeling the discomfort settle in.

‘Ah, she talks! A week, indeed,’ Tomás nodded in the background.

Her new place was clean and cold—like a cell. 

You could feel like a queen if you lost your bad thoughts, she lied to herself. But you just had to make them known to everyone, didn’t you?

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Here Be Dragons

One day, you decide to take back the lead ropes to your life. To do this, you need to go up to the top floor of the building that is you. You need to knock, say your name, befriend your inner dragon and ask him to share the power. It’s scary, but it’s the only way to get there.

And so you take a deep breath and go, ready to fight with all your little might. Sure, you know he’s the source of all your power, but what else do you do on the way up to visit a dragon than talk to your own reflection in the elevator about how you are the baddest?

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Nothing Is Ever the Same As They Said It Was

The street shines glossy black after the rain. The sidewalk cafes are crowded, and vehicles hiss by—their roar constantly approaching, breaking off, receding. I watch them and hold my breath, forgetting to blink. I am alert, but null. The restlessness of the city mirrors mine tonight, and slowly softens it.

I’ve always enjoyed lights, sounds, and explosions. They came to me like divine permission to sit back and enjoy the ride. The world was happening. I wasn’t in charge of firing it up or holding it together. What a relief—to not have to be in control for some time.

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Where I Hide Secrets

Sipping on coffee, I contemplate the bunch of contradictions screaming at each other on the paper in front of me. Some tell my stories in more detail than I’d like, while others tell me the stories I’d like to hear instead. Good. It means I’ve written it all down, and now nothing makes sense. I laugh quietly at the mess.

But the work isn’t finished yet. Now I need to group and edit and revise each paragraph until no one can tell what’s real and what’s not. That’s how you write a book. You hide yourself behind your own words, between your own lines, until they catch a glimpse of you, but can never be quite sure. When it’s relatable precisely because of its vagueness, you can rest. Your world is safe from harm, and people will want to read it.

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Following New Love Out the Door

He still thinks this is how I was born. How terribly naive. Sometimes I wish he’d realise that my cells didn’t decide to man up and learn some coolness when they put me together. That was my mind, many years later, laying out in front of me a detailed plan to make me good, and easy, and lovable.

‘You are like a beautiful tomboy, bold and real and, at the same time, pretty and sensual,’ he says to me, and I know he’s fascinated by what he sees.

He just doesn’t know that I made it up for him to see just that and nothing more. I want to tell him that, but I instinctively put on a little smile and keep walking. A little longer, I think. Just a little longer, until I tell the truth.

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Sneaking Out of Your Second Story’s Window

November rain is cutting through the stillness of the day, like a reminder to be present—a reminder that they are finally together, even without much to say to each other, and that maybe they shouldn’t drift apart from each other yet. It’s still early, and conversation is hard to hold. Their voices are breaking too often. They sound nervous and uneasy, clinging to their comfort zone. Nobody could tell they used to be lovers, and they can’t tell if they are going to be lovers again.

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A Scene That Should Have Been

The old wooden staircase, the black bricks in the wall, and the large plants on the sides of the stairs all gave her goosebumps when she first entered the building. Her body felt heavy, like it was wrapped in layers of questions and blank spaces that she could not get rid of because she knew she would find them again at the top of the stairs. The questions, wearing his perfume, and the blank spaces, hers.

‘Are you trying to figure me out as we speak?’ he laughed on their first date.

He was tall, with short brown hair and green eyes that were hard to read because they were always happy. But his laugh was the first of all the things she would come to love about him.

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It was late November. Or April. Or August. I guess it could have been Christmas, but most cafés would have been closed—and where else would I have run into him? I’d say it was New Year’s Eve, but that would create too much pressure for one day. When is the best time to meet someone who will then change your life repeatedly? Is it January? Is it March? Is it a lazy summer day that does not promise much else? I don’t know, so I’ll just go with February. It was February, then.

If it was February, there were still blankets of snow on the sidewalks, which always makes for a nice detail in a story like this. People were walking hurriedly, with coffee, phones, and shopping bags in their hands. You need to know that although this is my story, I was never alone. At least not until very late anyway, when everything came down to what I wanted out of life. I know, you don’t get many happy endings like that, do you?

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Waking Up With Stories on My Mind to Tell Nobody

There are nights when I still burn with passion for all the things we’ve done and for all the things we could still have done. On those nights, I don’t sleep at all. I toss and turn in my bed for hours, fervent and longing and alive. Other nights I sleep well, and I wake up laughing about all the other nights I don’t sleep.

‘What am I losing sleep over?’ I ask myself every morning. ‘There is blood singing in your veins. You can do so much more, you can be anything you want. Move on from the stories you knitted with them, for they belong to none of you now.’

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Piece of Mind

There is a beautiful apartment above the bakery. It is welcoming, relaxing, with a touch of elegance and sophistication. It’s where he first time, he said those magic words to her, and for the first time she touched his face with new love on her fingers and warmth in her body.

On the white walls of the kitchen hangs a painting of a dark blue river flowing wildly over black rocks, closing a hole the size of a fist. She thinks of it as her life flowing, fighting, freezing, and unfreezing. As for the hole, she thinks of him and then thinks of it no more.

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Warming Me Up

He’s been staring at me for a few minutes now, and I’m starting to feel uncomfortable. I tried to make a joke to show him that I was fine, but he didn’t believe me. Of course he didn’t believe me.

‘What did he do to you this time?’

‘Who’s he?’

‘I don’t know,’ he shrugs. ‘I never know.’

I give him the look, then look away.

‘Nothing,’ I say, taking a deep breath.

‘Oh. Then what are you doing here?’

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It’s summer, dark and quiet up here. Imagine the heat, the lights, the sounds—and the girl, curled up on the black wooden chair, chin propped on her knees, gazing absently over the city. I bend over the table to pick up the pack of cigarettes and take one out. I’d ask her to sit with me, but I am in no hurry to get her to talk. I know we have all night, which is strange and exciting at the same time.

Exciting because she has that je ne sais quoi that you can only find in someone’s eyes, or sadness, or intensity. I look at her and it’s everywhere. It’s second nature to me to watch people when they are outside their comfort zone. That’s how I get a feel for my stories. But with her, the more I try to capture that something and put it on paper, the more I get caught up in that something else. What something else? Je ne sais quoi, to be honest. As for the strange…

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Sharp Prose

He said he was going to write a story about us. I took it seriously. Later I found out that it was. I was thrilled to hear that we could inspire someone to turn us into literature, even if no one would ever read it. Maybe some stories aren’t meant to be read.

The man didn’t even have a name. I asked, because I wanted to find him on the way back. He laughed at my plan and said we should come back to the village and ask for the craftsman; that’s what people called him. I turned to Kevin, but he wasn’t paying attention.

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Filling Up Gaps With Cotton Candy

I know you’re real, but you have imagination stains all over your face. I’ve filled up all the gaps with cotton candy and fell in love with a man who brings me poetry, mystery and desire. That’s everything I’ve ever wanted from you. I just wish I could be sure that it’s you.

I’m trying, I’m trying so hard to let you shine through. I do my best to listen to you, to feel the flavour of your every word, your every experience, your every state of mind. I’m just too excited about the possibility of having found someone beautiful that I’m afraid I also made up miles of you.

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Swallowed Whole by Life, Not to Be Spat Out

It was summer when, night after night, we fell asleep with fast hearts and hurried dreams of sunlight, fresh air, and new adventures. You kneading my spine and pulsing through my veins, me telling myself that happiness never hurt anyone and, if worst came to worst, misery is always refundable.

Seconds turned into days and memories in the making as I was holding your hand, growing luckier day by day. One morning you said you’d never seen a spark before, that most people don’t sparkle. I knew I was light years away from what you saw in me, but your eyes were so used to the dark that even a little light like mine could blind them.

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In my world, I let you see right through me. I listen to my truth on every radio, I decorate the walls with beautiful paintings of my most precious memories, and I have large windows in every room. From here, you can see right into me. Those trees over there? I have so many stories about those who planted them. And the pool? I built that myself, out of all the times I wanted to drown in it. The mountains at the back? Ah, that one’s for later, much later. But if you stay, I’ll stay with you and I’ll tell you everything. It will just take a little longer. Are you ready?

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A Few More Bricks to Add

Our bodies brushed together. I was getting closer and closer. For a while I remembered what it’s like to be young and scared and to want so badly to give yourself away, because you don’t know what to with all that’s been given to you.

You do it with your eyes shut and your mind on fire and a burning desire to never get yourself back. Not the way you were, anyway. So there I was again, trying to negotiate a new, changed self with a man, since God, whom I’d made a kind of business partner at that point‘I’ll be a good girl, just make this and that come true’seemed to have run out of options for me.

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You Don’t Always Want to Play Alchemist

Art, I suppose, is when you create life and meaning and out of nothing, and not everyone in the world hates it at the same time.

You take the nothingness, thick and sticky, and you shape it. It’s fun and wonderful and imaginative, and it satisfies everyone’s fantasy of playing God. Creating new worlds from scratch is about recreating one’s own in the process, after all. Fiction is real life, if you know how to look at it. But to do that, you first have to take little pieces from your dark days and turn them into soft magic. You have to make the black come out of your dark caves and turn it into silver. You have to make emotions happen by trying them on first. And sometimes those emotions wear you down before you have a chance to play alchemist. And then.

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There Is Another World, but It Is in This One

‘There is another world, but it is in this one.’ – William Butler Yeats

‘It’s 3 am,’ I say.

What I really mean is, I want to go.

Even though I don’t really mean that, but now isn’t the time. Not the time to make my way into his heart by any means possible. Not the time to want to swim into the depths, because the surface is getting cold and crowded. No, no, no, My head spins a little, but not enough to drown out the little voice telling me that it’s too soon to be fragile, that everyone loves strength, and that showing less is a mistake that can cost me all future opportunities. And so I want to leave, because I don’t want to stay just to play it tough. I’m never tough past bedtime, or around men like him. And there’s no way I’m going to let myself be soft tonight if I ever hope to see him again.

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If Only You Could Put Your Fire Out First

In the beginning, he taught me about fear. I liked that one, so I decided to remember it.

‘Why do you speak of fear in the third person? Fear has no identity. You are the fear.’

He also taught me about the ugly side of love. I hated that one, so I can’t seem to forget it.

‘I never felt suffocated by your presence,’ I said during an argument, saddened by his words.

He kissed me gently, and that hurt the most. I knew I had no power to upset him. I knew I had no power over him.

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The Softness Still Seeps In

‘How did you become you?’ he caught himself asking, rather loudly.

She laughed.

‘What do you mean by me? What do you know about me so far, so I know where to start?’

He took his time.

She was the slightly unusual typehis type. She could probably open her heart as wide as it’d go and close it just the same in a matter of minutes. He could feel the intensity from across the table. He could’ve felt it from across the room, too. All it took was one look at her to see it. He knew most people didn’t see it. Most people don’t really look. But it didn’t take him long from seeing her to wanting to see everything about her.

‘Not much. You tell me.’

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Keen to See It All, Missing Only the Essential

I had a crush on your mind since I first walked through your doors, all marked Private. I liked what I found inside, and I didn’t think twice about the signs. I looked around hungrily and imagined changing the locks, pulling out the Welcome Home mat, and maybe cleaning up that corner. How did this happen? It’s simple, baby. I fell in love, hard and fast, at a time when I would have eaten love raw and off the floor had I seen it. And there you were, coming for me. You made me feel wanted when I wanted nothing more. You opened up a little, and I thought it was a lot. You had gentle manners and rough edges, and you showed me the world as I had never seen it before. I soaked it all up with the greed and thirst of someone who has never been on the sunny side of life.

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