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i walk down an uneven sidewalk

steam twists into chaos from the manhole in the middle of the street

biting wind rushes over my face and locks itself around my ears

bringing with it a hint of perfume from a passerby

a neural pathway in my brain lights up

i recognize the scent from a high school crush

i see her room

a cluttered make-up dresser sitting small in the corner

a bed with white sheets

and a tapestry hanging behind

a macbook perpetually buried in the linens

i remember the night

driving to her house after "deadline night"

for the school paper

falling asleep watching Breakfast Club

"you twitch when you sleep," she said

"it's cute."

i wasn't sure i believed her

but i was too tired to say

so i pulled her closer

and closed my eyes again

ten minutes later i got up

kissed her

and left

driving fifty in a thirty

on an empty boulevard

windows down

radio off

breathing in the cool, cicada-humming darkness

"deadline night ran long," i tell my parents

it was true


an ambulance horn squeals

and brings me back to the sidewalk

the smell is gone

but the cold is not

and i continue walking

the smell

the memory

fading gently

into the air