Yesterday’s desire. Tomorrow’s heartache.

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Arriving at the beginning, she feels frustrated. How many times has she travelled this way, circling the exact same landscape, weaving in and out of similar trees, meeting and greeting familiar people? Despite having lost count, she knows it is too many. Only a fool would keep repeating the same mistakes, failing to learn, not just from what has already been, but what has been and been despised.

Feeling the twist of loss, she rushes cobbled pavements, ignoring the blade in her foot and the furnace that surrounds her, drawn on by the possibility that life will call her bluff and people surprise her. She knows her wish is futile, her hope naïve, but she continues to dream regardless. A romantic soul with a lonely heart, she always looks on the bright side, attributing to events the benefit. Only when it comes to the weather, which belongs to another being far greater than she, does she doubt. Dreaming is what she excels at, what spurs her on, what allows her to continue, even in the face of it.

She arrives in a puddle of heat, immediately losing half of her dignity to the floor beneath her feet. The other half following, the moment she opens her mouth. An inconclusive reply in her mother tongue, a tongue different to that indigenous to here, further proving just how terrible her grasp of the language is; although she was understood, which must (surely) count for something. It does, doesn’t it? The important thing is that she tried and that she keeps on trying, like with her dreams. At some point the world will feel sorry for her and grant her her reward. She waits, her hands prostrate.

The bathroom, the scene of the crime, is empty. Slowly, she peels open the door, steps inside, catches the light, disturbing a band of neon overhead. To her surprise, her heart’s desire is exactly where she left it, looking forlorn, face to the wall. She snatches it up, lifts it to her mouth, gently kisses it, welcoming it home; then presses it to her breast, where it fits exactly: the final piece of a complicated puzzle.

Returning to the threefold space, a space functioning as entrance, centre and exit, too many jobs for anything so humble to do with any real success, her cheeks flushed, her eyes sparkling, her lips curved, she expresses her thanks. In the city centre, finding anything that has been left, forgotten or mislaid is unusual, unless that thing belongs to another and is part of their heart’s ache. She decides she must have a guardian angel after all and makes a note to correct her parents, who harbour more formal views. That means that God does exist, the Tooth Fairy is real, and elves can and often do live amongst the flowers and the plants at the bottom of the garden. Now isn’t that so much nicer than worshipping the shrine of insignificance, holding fast to the belief that we are all alone?

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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