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Mom said your name. Your mom, I mean. It’s just that after so many years of the way we were, friends the way we were, I became so used to saying her name the way you say it, like she was mine. I see now that she’s not and that I just became so comfortable so close. It pushed you this far, I did.

Anyway, she said your name. Your mom did. My ears leaned closer, my body didn’t move. No one knew I was listening hard to the mumbled words she said next across the room where the lights were off and the staff was chattering. Something about something and then, she’ll arrive at midnight. The last name I’d heard was yours and I thought she still meant you. My eyes opened wide in the dark, my pupils like shutters, wide to let in low light. Wide to let in the thought of you, here with me and us, like every year before. Ashleigh asked what while I hung my head and confessed. I thought you were coming, but I’d made a mistake.

It’s fine, I said. Ash’s elbow leaned on my knee, we were about to watch a movie. She heard me sniffle, saw my sleeve up on my face. Of course you’re not coming at midnight tonight. You’re down South, done with this, all grown up. Close isn’t comfortable anymore; I pushed you this far.

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