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This is how you love her.

Crash into her.
Crash into her at the speed of light.
Feed her your fire until you’re nothing more than cinder and she has flames pouring through her ribcage.
She will need it. God, how she’ll need it.

You forget that she’s broken, sometimes. Other times it’s clearer. You worry about how she kisses you until she chokes, about how she shoves you against the wall and pulls you against herself, bites you until your lips bleed and then doesn’t speak for three days.
When she digs her fingernails into your arms and drags the pain from her throat scream by scream, let her.
There are worse kinds of scars.

These days she disappears often. Slips away when she thinks you won’t notice. Some days you wake up at 2am and you don’t find a text back from her. Speak to her. Go to her. Pour two bottles of beer and sit on the floor with her until she’s drinkin’ seconds and thirds and the crying stops and she’s wiping mascara from her eyes with a paper towel. You don’t have to say anything.

What breaks you down is not the trembling of her fingertips. It’s that she won’t let you hold her hands.

If she comes to you one day with a tattoo on her shoulder and her brown hair dyed black and says she wants to be in a band, hug her. Then buy her a guitar. She’s a phoenix, she’s an arsonist. She’ll burn herself down over and over and rebuild, start again. Marry her ashes, marry her yesterdays and todays and tomorrows.
She will always be the same, but she won’t, but she will.
Remember that people are allowed to change.

She yells at you on your third date and says you don’t know her, slams the door of her car and disappears slowly while your heart is badly breaking with every beat.

She’s in tears on the bathroom floor and she turns the shower on so no one can hear her.
She comes out the next morning and pretends not to care.
Kiss her then.
Hold her by the back of her neck and by the wrist and kiss her.
It won’t make the hurting stop but she’ll love you for it.

Some nights she crawls in bed with you. She lets you curl an arm around her and tug her closer until the hair on the back of her head tickles your collarbone. Sometimes she clings to the front of your shirt and breaths into the hollow at your throat and you can’t keep yourself from shivering. She’s always gone in the morning.
You think how it aches so much to not be able to love her entirely, but be patient. She is the survivor of a long, cold winter. She is barreling through the dark. But she is looking. She will find you.

You take her to a thousand different places.
You tell her that yes, this is enough. But sometimes when she’s asleep you throw open every atlas you own, roll out the maps you’ve followed for a thousand years. Your heart breaks at how much dust has settled on them. Sometimes you miss the world until the pain takes you, miss the running until you sweep every book off your desk and cover your face with your hands.

When you finally cry because you can’t help it, she finds you. She maneuvers carefully across your charted floor and holds your head in her lap and tells you that there are thunderstorms in her chest too. And you’re both relieved, because for the first time, she gives you her raw secrets and maybe it’s because she finally understands that she isn’t broken alone. You will unwind her now, slowly.
She’ll run with you, she says.
It won’t be the same, but it will be good. You’re not the same, but you can love her still.
You say it will be brilliant.

Find a dictionary. Memorize the definition of the word love in a thousand different languages.
When all the definitions seem nowhere near enough, tell her you love her.
Now forget them.
Love is better than all of those things.

Feed her your fire.
And she will need you. God, how she’ll need you.
God, how much she’ll love you then,only then.

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