I’m standing in a cozy cobblestone alleyway in a sleepy village just outside of Rome, my back against a cool stone wall, painted a bright but dusty yellow. A breeze wafts by, mixing the scent of the sea with the aroma of freshly ground coffee. It wakes up a wind-chime somewhere, playing a tune only they know.

Maybe this is where Time comes, on vacation.

An accordion comes to life. Maybe it’s a busker; maybe it’s the old man in the red bow-tie and suspenders who just plays to remember his wife.

The sun keeps inching west when he thinks no one is looking. He thinks we don’t know of his clandestine date with the sea, but we can hear her sighing in the distance, one wave at a time. How long must she wait?

Footsteps. She’s finally here. She’s wearing blue canvas sneakers to go with her blue summer dress with little umbrellas. Her laces are undone on one shoe. It’s the cutest thing. Her hair is a mess of flames of a muffled red — not curls, not waves; something in between. It’s untidy but it somehow becomes her — makes her beautiful. The wind plays with her locks. Maybe silent and invisible things sometimes feel the need to flirt.

Her name is Aria. Air. That’s all I know about her right now.

My heart picks up the pace as she walks over to me, though I try not to show it. I’m grinning like an idiot. She’s looking down at her hands, fidgeting with a silver ring on her thumb. I lift her chin with my finger. She has the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen. Her freckled cheeks flood with rose, and light dances in her eyes, the green of uncut emeralds. There is a small, wondrous universe in them; created and forgotten there by some careless god. Now I feel as if it’s mine.

Standing so close to my sea, I think I know how that sun feels.

I gently take her hand. Electricity. We just stand there for a while, looking at each other and exchanging breaths. She’s just tall enough that she could comfortably hear my heartbeat, if she wanted to. She stands on tiptoe to whisper something into my ear. I clearly haven’t understood what she said, because she chuckles girlishly at me.

She stands on tiptoe once again, cradles my face in her hands, and slowly, sweetly, kisses me. Suddenly it feels like there was never a time when we were not, and there will certainly never be a time when we won’t be. Suddenly, in this tiny moment, we are infinite.

We’re standing pretty close, my hand resting clumsily on her waist. Our hearts are racing but weirdly keeping time with each other. I can feel her smiling while we kiss.

And I wonder, what more can I ever ask for?

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