Stranger

He is not surprised he has found her.

He has found her in all of his lifetimes–in all of hers. He has found her as a woman, as a man, as something in between; married, single, a little of both; dead, alive, barely surviving. He has killed her. He has loved her. More often than not, he has only watched her from afar, because sometimes the way destiny works is unfair, and he cannot approach her.

This is one of those times. He is a tourist in Milan. She must be one, too. She sits a few feet away from him, talking animatedly to her partner–her husband? her boyfriend?–and the sun catches on the diamond ring she wears on her left ring finger. He knows it’s her just like he’s known all the other times too. The ache in his heart, as if suddenly squeezed tighter by a string that has been wrapped around the middle. He cannot concentrate on his friend’s words because he is too busy staring at the woman’s mouth, wondering what her lips would feel like against his, knowing he would never find out.

She catches him staring, forcing him to look away. His friend is shaking his head and he has to excuse himself in order to regain some kind of control. The worst times are when he can never truly meet her, when their lives are too distant and the oceans between them too wide too cross. This ocean in particular is painful, because he knows she is with someone else, and he knows that someone else will never truly love her the way he does–not all of her.

When he is returning from the bathroom, he accidentally bumps into her. Her small hand rests against his chest in an effort to keep herself from falling over, and his hand is wrapped against her elbow. She looks up at him, eyes sparkling, strands of dark hair falling across her face. She stares and stares and he is staring back.

“It’s you,” she says.

“It’s me.”

She nods and lets her hand fall to her side. She walks away without another look back and as he walks back to his seat, he wonders how he will meet her next.

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