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  • I managed to lift my head only after deciding to die.

    My head was in my hands. Or rather, stuffed as deep as it could go between the crooks of my elbows and the knees they rested on. At any other time in my life, when they walked by, I would have stiffened my upper lip, wiped my eyes, and turned my head away, neck torqued just enough to let them know I didn't want to speak. They would almost certainly not have attempted conversation anyway, even if they had been Americans, trained to mind their own business only by a culture of self-obsession, rather than by the colder end of a gun in the hands of a cold official in a cold land. Even if they had felt exceptionally outgoing and concerned for me, they would have seen that my head was turned definitively enough that I would not respond to them. It's not as if I could have responded to them anyway. Ya nie gavarou pa rooskiy.

    This was not any other time in my life. I was not aware that they were there until they were past me. I was aware only that I had made a horrible mistake. Sometimes, people go off into the wilderness and make horrible mistakes. Usually they live to tell. Sometimes they don't. I could only wish that I had made a mistake of that latter type, that I had simply ended up dead. That I had not tied her in with me, that we had not met again last year. She could have gone on in her journey, becoming an amazing, wonderful friend to many people, making her friends incredibly happy, beaming her infallible little smile through her sparkling eyes for someone to see. Brightening the world. Instead, I made a horrible mistake, and that light is gone forever.

    She had spoken of reincarnation, as though she truly believed in it. I did not believe in it, I thought, with my eyes trying to find more darkness to settle into. Yet I would try it, if only for the one in a billion possibility that I might find her. We had felt so linked when I had been with her. We had the same thoughts, we wrote each other eerily similar accounts of our days, we even had the same phone numbers. Preposterous coincidences were the norm. Surely, if there's a chance of reincarnation, we would again be the same creatures in the same place, and I could find her. Surely it was a sign that when I would need that chance, I would be here, in a Buddhist city, for the first time in my life. And even if the chance was nill, I had to do something, anything was better than nothing.

    Surely I could not face my life back home. I had made her life my life. My best friends, the ones I had asked for advice when I realized the futility of my travels, were hers as well. I had killed their friend. The thought would have been disconcerting, but I knew I would not talk to them anyway. I would not likely see them, I had no reason to be there, it was no longer my home. I had made her my home. She was my plan for the future, all I had to look forward to. We had named our children, she wore my ring. And she was, suddenly and almost certainly, gone. Not on skype, not at home, not answering her phone, not with her best friends. I had no home, no life. She had been my home. No, she was STILL my home. I had but to find her.

    I wondered where she would be found. Surely she would not have gone where she nearly had less than three months before, sitting in a tub of brown blood cells and little pieces of her flesh/fat floating around. She would have remembered me, and how I held her that night and swore I would always hold her. Or maybe she had remembered that oath, and realized that I was six thousand miles away in her moment of need. That like everything else in her recent life, I was too good to be true. I had killed her. No, she would have thought of Guinness, lying perhaps on her bed, tail curled over his nose. Like he had been that night. He had promised her nothing, but given her everything, and she had promised him everything. If she had been near Guinness, if anything had reminded her of him in the last minutes, she would not have gone. So she would not be found at home.

    Perhaps she had been out with friends and not gone home, and someone would know where to start looking. I could ask them to, surely they would find her body before I got back, and I could go then to find her. It did not matter what they thought of me, what was done was done. I would do the one thing I could still do. I would find her and apologize and swear to never leave her side again, whether we were fish or worms or tigers or dogs. And I would live by that, through that life and the next and every life after, as long as I could find her.

    It was settled. I had a plan, a simple and actionable one. Almost certainly, I would be hurling myself into the abyss. But all was not definitively lost. I would head for the airport in the morning. That's how I managed to pull my head up.
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