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doesn't mean i'm lost

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The rose is bright red in the middle and wilting at the edges; Ryan’s long fingers twirl the stem, touch the petals gently. Mikey watches, mesmerized by the motion, silent.

Ryan starts tearing them off, one by one, mouthing the words soundlessly: loves, doesn’t love, loves, doesn’t love, loves, doesn’t, loves, doesn’t...

Mikey counts along with him but loses the thread, watches Ryan’s face instead, his mouth. The rain is drizzling all around them, low pattering hum of it. Three last petals, two last petals, one…

Mikey holds his breath. Ryan looks up at him, drops the stem - and smiles.