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Like No PlagueTo Barbara DeCesare's previous piece

True Love

"As I said, love is a commitment of will to the other person…"
-fr. Marceil from his booklet on Dating and Engagement

One day, the boy and the girl got high and read the newspaper.
The newspaper was old.
The boy used it months ago
to keep the floor clean
while painting a papîer maché donkey for art class.
The newspaper was almost spotless.

The girl was interested in the newspaper
because of a headline she saw from
where she stood putting her panties back on.
The headline was about a dead couple.
The dead couple was in love.
The dead couple decided to die together because they were so in love and they hung themselves.
The dead couple had jumped off the overpass
and the drivers had a lot to say about what they saw.
Some drivers had nothing to say.
The dead couple had swung like a pair of piñatas, dead and in love.
The highway was shut down until the dead couple was gone.
The man and the woman were dead and the boy's newspaper was months old.
At that moment
the boy and the girl were the only ones in the world
who cared about the dead couple in love.
They saw themselves in love that way,
looked at each other in tacit understanding
with their hands bleeding sweat into the limp newspaper.

One day the boy and the girl got high
and tried out his father's gun.
They aimed at each other and themselves.
They opened their mouths and put the cold barrel in;
first themselves,
then to each other.
They talked about what to wear.
They talked about what music should be playing.
They wondered who would find them,
who would read it in the paper and love them,
love their strength,
their crystalline understanding that the world is no place
for a thing like love.
The world has no business
being the background for true love,
these bodies have no right to try to express love.
What have we got, the girl asks him,
but blow jobs and poetry?
The boy doesn't know what else he has.

Days later he pulls the trigger first.
The boy can't believe it works.
He drops his father's gun, he falls down next to the girl.
The boy is making talking sounds
but no words.
The boy is breathing fast
and looking at the girl
and looking around.
The boy is not thinking about loving the girl
or poetry
or blowjobs
or anything except how small he is,
how suddenly so crumpled up
and deep inside himself he is. And how far away the girl is,
swinging all alone over the highway.

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