(a hazy shade of Winterson)

In the beginning, her laughter lived and his smile was free. They divided the earth into music and stars, and a river so long ran between them. There by the water's edge she danced, watching the reflection of his smile; there by the water's edge he danced, listening to the echo of her laugh. She danced because she had not learned to lie, and he danced because he wanted to tell the truth. And when he smiled, she thought of stars; and when she laughed, he followed. And there was morning, and there was sunrise -- the first day.

But the river dried up in the heat of the sun, and there was no water to reflect the stars. She caught his smile in a raindrop, and he heard her laugh through the tears; but the stars were far away, and the sky grew lonely. And there was morning, and there was night -- the second day.

And so it was night again, as it had been every other time, and there they were again, as they had been before. She cried because she didn't know how to reach him, and he lied because he didn't know how to tell her the truth. I love you dearly, he said, meaning I pity your hopelessness. Don't say that, she said, meaning the sky is falling down. I mean I like you, he said, meaning I don't know how else to tell you to leave. And he smiled because he didn't know how to cry, and she laughed because she didn't know how to die. And there was morning, and there was evening -- the last day.

And then when it became night again, he danced because he knew the music, and she danced because she knew the score. But the night grew darker and the music grew colder, and the dancing grew wilder. Eyes to the light, he smiled; blinded by the sight, she drowned in the moment -- waving, waving, waving. And when the time came for parting, he waved for a moment, and she smiled -- drowning, drowning, drowning. And there was evening, and there was mourning. The last day.

Between the last day and the end of the world, his smile came to her in a dream. I must go away soon, it said, I need some time alone; there are stars to be seen, and so little time. And with a whisper it went, towing the dream behind it. And there was no more morning.

These days, she dances when everyone else is asleep; she watches her flickering shadows in the lamplight, watches her rippling face in the rain. She dances as if her soul depended on it, hanging on her every move. The rain is her seven veils, and in the night many may come and go, and come. And go. And there was night, and there was night -- the first ending.

She does not know where he went, but sometimes she thinks she sees his smile dancing through the dark sky. He does not know where she went, but sometimes he thinks he hears her laugh floating on the river. And for a while she will stare at the stars, and sigh; and for a while he will hold quite still as if listening to something no longer there. And there was silence -- the second ending.

She never knew his name, and from time to time she asks people if they have seen his smile. It is like this, she says, holding up a shooting star at the edge of a breathless sky. But they have not seen it, and she moves on, dancing on the brink of the night. She leaves only the echo of laughter.

He never knew her name, and from time to time he wonders if it would have made any difference. He leaves, only the shadow of a smile.

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