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  • “I love your collarbones. And now without your hair I can see your neck.”

    “Well that’s appropriate for a vampire. Dark Angel.”

    “Ha, that’s perfect. You’re perfect…”

    I was woozy, reeling. It was all happening exactly as I had dreamed. The pale faced, coal eyed, lanky angel I had watched from a distance for two years. A nervous “hey” exchanged between the two of us at each passing at concerts, in bars. Not much else. Until that night.

    I was finishing up my senior year with 20 hours of course work and two jobs. He was a musician, a talented guitarist, and school had become “a waste of time.” I nodded and smiled when he told me this, not wanting to betray my difference of opinion in this given moment – this mystical vampire tracing the lines of my collar bones.

    Things moved along as you might guess until the freeze. My freeze. Completely and utterly. In the middle of this dreamy teenage make-out session came a message blasting into my head, as if from above, saying “Walk away. Get out of this. Now.” I don't remember visuals. I remember words, spoken to me. I pulled away suddenly, shaking my head, struggling to see clearly, muttering some excuse about my friend looking for me, and headed back into the bar.

    A few minutes later I was talking to my friend Kate, frantic. I remember her crimson lipstick, her smile, and me, talking way too fast. Words streaming out of my mouth along the lines of “there’s just something not right…I don’t know why I know it, but I had to get away….” while I watched him darkly pace outside the plate glass window of the bar. He was stalking me, staring, eyes searing into my skin while I nervously explained what had, and hadn't, happened.

    Suddenly there was a crash - the shatter of broken glass. I looked over to see him at the door, on the floor, his hand bleeding. He was still staring. Bouncers came running, police were called, and I bolted out the back door. I avoided seeing him the rest of the year. I graduated that June and moved back to Chicago.

    A few months ago, 22 years later, I saw him on facebook. I had heard he’d had a drug deal go wrong, had been pushed off a fire escape years ago and now was a parapelegic. Still a guitarist, a musician.

    I don’t think I really believed that, or maybe I couldn't visualize what that meant, because I know I was not ready for what I saw: He looked so old, haggard. Sunken eyes. Brown, broken teeth. That once beautiful, ethereal face ravaged by fate, a reflection of his chosen fork in the road. I messaged my old friend Kate in tears.

    “I know” she said. “I'm sorry. I thought you knew?"

    I hesitantly friended him and he quickly accepted. We exchanged a few quips about music, “liked” a few of each other's postings over the course of a few weeks. And that was it. I would never say “you know you were the most beautiful boy in Seattle" (He was. Still. To this day.) and he may not even remember that night. He posts news about his band and the nature of his comments seems sweet, sensitive. Soft spoken. I post pictures of my kids and my gardens. Life goes on.

    I still have a weak spot for lost boys and I listen and watch for messages everyday. Those little things - the whisperings, signposts - that lead you down or stop you from traversing a path. I've got my own teenagers now, and I tell them to do likewise: to watch, listen, and wait for the answer when confused. To trust their instincts.

    And to take time. Time to watch and listen. Time to appreciate the detail of a young woman's collarbones.
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