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“You want to kill yourself?” Her voice turned into a soft whisper at the end, as if her mouth could not bear to say the word kill.

Kaisa said nothing.

“I found this,” she said, still whispering. She lifted up a book, a book full of words, a book full of secrets, a book full of life.

Though the cover of the book had only one word written on it, a word that meant everything and nothing:

Breathe

Kaisa closed her eyes.

breathe

She inhaled, sucking the air around her, hoping it would clear her mind.

breathe

A second passed.

Two.

Three.

She exhaled, letting the carbon dioxide flow out of her, letting go of the cloud that loomed over her thoughts.

breathe

I am fire, she thought. Nothing can hurt me now.

Kaisa opened her eyes. In front of her, the other girl was still holding the book, but she was looking at Kaisa with a strange expression on her face.

Kaisa extended her arm out, palms laid out. “Please?” She asked, her voice calm, soft. The other girl handed her the book, and Kaisa felt the smooth edges of the spine and the unique texture of the cover on her fingers. She moved her fingers all around it, relieved that it was finally here with her and not lost and alone.

Her secrets. Her stories. Her fairytales.

She hugged the book close to her chest, a small grin on her lips—

The book’s not yours anymore.

She flinched. The thought had just hit her—she had been too overwhelmed by it finally being in her hands that she had forgotten that only seconds ago it was in someone else’s hands, too.

She put the book down.

breathe

breathe

breathe

“Yes,” Kaisa said out loud. “Because I am tired of breathing.”

Kaisa lifted her eyes to look at the girl’s, and she realized that this entire time, the girl had been looking at her with that weird expression on her face. It was a mix of emotions Kaisa had never seen someone feel for her, and she lost her focus for a moment.

The other girl blinked. “What—” She began to say, but then stopped for it was exactly what she wanted to say.

“My answer,” Kaisa said, “to your unspoken question.”

The girl knew what she meant. Why? Why do you want to kill yourself? Because I am tired of breathing.

The other girl didn’t say anything.

Something in Kaisa wondered what had made her able to tell the girl. Is it because she had already read the book? Because of the expression on her face that she couldn’t help but see, even though she tried so hard not to?

“Tired of breathing,” the girl repeated, deep in thought. Another pause.

Kaisa stared at her. Long, light brown hair. Dark brown eyes, coated with long, pretty eyelashes. Pale skin, but darker than white.

The girl took a deep breath, as if mocking Kaisa. She kept breathing for a minute, until suddenly she smiled.

“You know,” She said, shifting her position on the floor to where she now sat criss-crossed. “I can tell you something that’s infinite. Something that’s impossible.”

“The universe. The number system.” Kaisa guessed.

Why,” The girl said breathlessly, a hint of astonishment in her voice.

“Why?” Kaisa asked, confused. Not because of why why was, but because of why the girl decided to bring it up.

“That’s the question,” the girl said. “Why? You answer it. Why? You answer it again. Why? And again. Why, why, why—always repeating itself, never will stop. It’s a paradox. You can keep asking why to everything, and soon, everything burrows down to this one singularity where it proves that everything is impossible because why can still be asked.”

Kaisa took a moment to take this in. “Why—” She closed her eyes, not able to see that expression on the other girl’s face, “Are you telling me this?”

She felt warm fingers on her chin, tilting her face up, causing Kaisa to open her eyes again. The other girl was closer now, and Kaisa felt like she truly could not breathe.

The other girl’s fingers were still on her face, and she made no move to remove them.

Kaisa didn’t want her to.

“There’s that why again.” She moved her hand so that it was touching her cheek. Kaisa burned all over.

Kaisa opened her mouth, then closed it.

“I really don’t know why I told you that.” The girl said, a steady gaze locked on Kaisa’s eyes. “It just came to my mind when you said that—that you were tired of breathing. Why? You could keep answering it, over and over again. But each time, it makes no sense. That’s what a paradox is, essentially. Senseless.”

“There’s plenty of sense in nonsense, sometimes, if you wish to look for it.” Kaisa said, quoting a character from a book she read before.

“Jace?” The girl’s brows furrowed. Kaisa felt her heart beat faster. “Anyways—I said senseless. Not nonsense. It’s not nonsense, at least, not the way I think of it.”

The girl was dangerously close now. Even after the past few months, Kaisa was afraid of where this was going.

“What is nonsense then,” Kaisa asked, her breaths coming out short, “in the way you think of it?”

The other girl didn’t miss a beat when she said: “This.” and leaned in to press her lips against Kaisa’s.

Everything in Kaisa ignited, the flame that she had been caressing inside of her combusting, her entire being burning, swallowing her, and the girl, whole.

They kissed. They kissed, and they shouldn’t have kissed but they kissed anyway and kept kissing until their lungs screamed and their bodies were engulfed completely by the flames.

They broke apart, taking deep breaths, deep breaths, deep breaths.

Kaisa looked at the girl.

The girl looked at Kaisa.

A smile formed on the girl’s lips. “Are you tired of breathing yet?”

Kaisa pulled the girl close and kissed her once again. Again and again to make up for the time she was too afraid of this moment. They kissed and kissed until Kaisa suddenly pulled away.

The girl looked at her confusingly, then looked around to make sure no one was near them. The girl looked back at Kaisa.

She leaned in to close the gap once again when Kaisa said, “Wait.”

The girl went back to looking at her confusingly.

Kaisa was trying to catch her breath, taking small but even breaths to cool her down and get her mind working again.

“I realized that—” Kaisa stopped, not sure how to word the thought.

“Yes?” The girl asked encouragingly, as if she already knew what Kaisa was going to ask.

Kaisa took a deep breath and continued anyway. “I realized that we have been making out for a bit now, and in fact we have known each other for quite a bit of time, but I still don’t know your name, and you—” Kaisa paused. “I guess by now you should already know mine.”

The girl’s eyes glanced to the book, laid by Kaisa’s feet. An expression crossed through her face, but when she looked back at Kaisa, it was gone.

“Of course. How rude of me,” She said. “My name is Ash.”

Ash. Kaisa almost laughed—the word fit her too perfectly.

“Ash,” Kaisa said, trying it out.

“Indeed.”

“Hello, Ash. My name is Kaisa.”

Ash laughed. “Hello, Kaisa. It is a pleasure to meet you.” She inched closer to Kaisa.

Kaisa inched closer to Ash. “Oh, please,” she said before their lips interlocked once more, “the pleasure’s all mine.”

Under the moonlight, hidden by the branches of the trees, two girls kissed, sheltered by each other’s love and by the love of mother nature. Their fire grew and their bodies burned in flames, but the tree did not catch fire.

Two flames, dancing in the night.

Two flames, always side by side.