Edie Koehlert, Contributor

Her hazel eyes connected with mine as I took heartwrenching steps closer to her. We stood on the stoop of my first-floor apartment with hastily packed moving boxes inside. I remember her grey sweatshirt covered with the fur from her kitten, her smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes, and her knotty, long, coffee-colored hair that was rarely brushed and always lovely.

The wind kissed our faces and filled us with the emptiness that we felt like an invisible world on our shoulders. The concrete steps scratched my legs as I handed over the music box and watched her unwrap the brown wax paper and wind the handle. I could hear the lyrics in my head, You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one, I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one. Eyes were all that was needed, the air felt too thick and musty to speak. I gave her an insincere hug and we gazed at the flower boxes on the stoop, expressions glazed over with something that we will never be able to reach again. I glanced back at the spot on the street where we’d skinned our knees skateboarding and the square of sidewalk where endless glasses of lemonade had been sold. There was the step on the cement stairs where we used to give Halloween candy and eat popsicles with juice dripping down our faces. It was as if a steady stream of the same memories flowed through each of our minds, reminiscent of the days when there were always scabs on our knees, scooters at our sides, and wind in our hair. 

We sat in the warm silence and listened to the whistling trees, the cooing pigeons, and the hum of the city. The nostalgia was comfortable at the time but incomprehensibly excruciating, like killing a firefly just to see the glow spread on your fingers. I had no idea how I would leave home, but I would try with her in mind. I could with her in mind. It was us against the world, forever and ever.