i first saw her in the summer, when she was still warm. between baking skin and the scent of red earth, we explored one another. she let me touch her in unexpected places, and i let her wash over me - we were both, of course, searching for home. summer was the smell of water cascading over parched dust in a red brick driveway, the gentle crackle of leaves (something is always dying, in a city) as someone passed my window. (Keep walking past the open windows, irving wrote. and Sorrow floats.) it was walking by canals, touching the tops of the weeds with the palms of one's hands. summer was when we were happiest, dreaming of clouds and better days, of fitnaa, in the red city. the winds gradually quickened, and the rain came, and went. our autumn was learning people's names, strange dialects, and imagining new ends. by winter's end, we no longer spoke as often, or as quietly. even so, winter was when we were warmest, to one another - when we leaned. i left her, in the end, of course. lahore was a beautiful city, but she was never mine.
breaking hearts, she thought, quietly to herself, is what i do. she used to write stories, about people, about cities, about herself. she told them, but only to herself, or when no-one else was listening. they were fiction, but they were not. we loved each other, but we did not. we could have loved eac-