I don't have a very long time to write this. I told myself that I would give up one night of sleep, because I wasn't going to sleep anyway. There are a lot of things I could tell you about when we were children. I could tell you about the numerous games we played, jokes we told and stories we shared. I could tell you how often we talked about whether we were actually alone in our secret place. Sometimes we left food, but whenever we came back it was always still there.

After a while, even the extraordinary becomes ordinary. Dylan and I soon recovered from the shock of what happened in the middle of night. We stopped asking why my parents never woke up in the middle of the night and why his grandpa couldn't walk into the mirror at night if he tried. We eventually stopped wondering how Harley had been created and why he didn't seem to age. We realised that if we kept on asking questions, we might go crazy, because no one was answering them.

Instead, we adjusted to it. We accepted the magic and it became a part of our lives. If I was asleep before my parents, I always woke up at roughly the same time I did every night. I walked through that mirror without thinking anything of it and when I was confronted with the same empty green field I wasn't shocked.

My parents moved the mirror into my room because my dad was sleeping in the guest room and he didn't like it. I heard him complain about how mom went out and bought it because she discovered an unexplained bill on his credit card and got upset. I often wished that I could walk through the mirror into the secret place during the day, because my parents kept on fighting. My mom wanted a baby, but my dad just wanted to be left alone. She cried more and he stayed out longer.

I was thirteen when they got a divorce. Mom and I got the house and dad moved into an apartment closer to his office. When I told Dylan, he said that he would probably become a lot like the guy living next door to him. He started saying stuff like this a lot as he got older and it wasn't always funny.

Dylan's grandpa died when he was ten years old and his mother got the mirror, because she always admired it. She put it in the living room so Dylan was able to visit the secret place every night like me. He said that she had really wanted to put it in her bedroom, but he put up so much of a fuss she put it in the living room because it was a neutral spot.

"My mom told me a story about the mirror," he told me one day when we were sitting in the tree house. I was trying to decorate the walls with posters, because I felt like the tree house should reflect who we were. The people who built the tree house had never returned and I didn't think they were ever coming back.

"She did?"

"Yeah, and it's going to sound stupid, but it is an interesting theory."

"At this rate, any theory sounds plausible."

Dylan's mother had told him that the mirrors were created at a time when there were Knights of the Round Table and dragons to destroy. I scoffed, but Dylan poked me in the ribs and continued. His mother told him that two mirrors were created by a sorcerer who was a close advisor of a King, but she couldn't remember what one. The King was called away to fight a war and had to leave behind the Queen. He told the sorcerer that he couldn't bear to be parted from his true love so the sorcerer created both mirrors. He instructed the King to take one away to the war and for the Queen to place one in her chambers. When the moon was highest in the sky, the mirrors would shimmer and that was when the King and Queen were free to enter the secret world where they could be together every night.

"That could be true," I shrugged. "But, how come the King and Queen were the only ones who could enter the secret world?"

"My mom said that the King asked the same question and the sorcerer only said that it was because only he and the Queen wanted the mirrors to be magic," he replied and he tried to sound mysterious when he said it.

"That doesn't make any sense."

"Vi, none of this makes any sense," he snapped, angry that I had criticised his story. He was always so sensitive, but I was no better.

When I first got my period I didn't enter the secret world until it was gone, because I just kept crying. Dylan had been so angry at me, because he said Harley had missed me. I wondered if he was really talking about Harley.

"I told you it was stupid," he muttered and I felt like I had to say something to make him feel better.

"It's really romantic though," I sighed. It was then that I started blushing, because I really hated acting like a girl around Dylan.

Things had been weird between us since we started middle school in our respective areas. We still didn't tell each other where we lived, although we knew what states we lived in. He lived in Massachusetts and I lived in New York. We were tempted to give away our surnames as well, but we decided that some things had to remain secret and sometimes I wasn't completely convinced he wasn't dangerous, because he could be really mean sometimes.

"Violet, I don't wanna hear about that," he screwed up his face and continued drawing in the notepad he brought along with him. He was always drawing in that notepad and he had started ignoring me more. On more than one night I found myself reading a book while he drew. It should have been a comfortable silence, but it felt awkward and like we should have been saying something to each other.

It wasn't always like that. Sometimes he stopped drawing for a while and showed me what he did. He really liked drawing monsters, but one time, he drew the inside of the tree house the way we found it for the first time. He sketched the drawings on the wall, the chests sitting by side and even the dust laced on them. He carefully drew the dolls sitting at the table with the tea set, with the empty chair pulled out as though there was a ghost sitting among them.

"Wow, even I couldn't remember exactly what it looked like, that's amazing," I told him and when I turned round he was just smiling at me. He did that sometimes; he just looked at me with this weird smile on his face. "What are you looking at?"

"I wasn't looking at anything! Why are you always asking questions like that?" He fumed, and then he ignored me for a while.

The only thing more frustrating than Dylan at that point was the fact that I couldn't tell anyone about Dylan. As I got older, I wanted to tell people about Dylan more than ever. Not just that he was a total asshole sometimes, but stupid things. Sometimes I would remember something funny Dylan said and then I wouldn't be able to tell anyone, because he said it in a funnier way than I could. He was really good at doing impressions. He was good at a lot of things. He had started building an extension to the tree house. We came to the conclusion that the people who built the tree house were probably not the same people who decorated it. He said that he wanted to leave our mark further beyond my lame choice in posters.

He made me laugh more than anybody did and when he wasn't ignoring me, I could tell him almost anything and be sure that he wasn't going to judge me. He said that he could tell me whatever was on his mind and know that it was safe.

It wasn't just how he acted. I tried to ignore it, but as he got older, Dylan changed. That was the only way I could describe it. I didn't even notice it at first, but during the summer we were both fourteen I went on vacation with my mother and her new boyfriend for three weeks. When I got back and entered the tree house, it was like I just noticed how his hair had become floppy, or that his skin was really tanned or that his eyes were really blue. I blushed for the first time when he looked at me and when he hugged me it felt different. My heart started pounding like it did when we first met, but this time it was different. This time I wanted him to kiss me.

But that was the thing about our secret place; it wasn't real. When we were there it was almost like we weren't real. We couldn't tell anyone about the really funny time Harley tried to pull Dylan away from his door by biting the scruff of his jeans. We couldn't tell anyone about the tree house we had extended over time or when we discovered old money under the floorboards.

When Dylan told me about kissing this girl, Madison, at his school, I knew I shouldn't have been upset. Our friendship was complicated. If it weren't for those mirrors we would never have met. Sometimes I wonder if we had been pushed together by fate, but I couldn't tell Dylan that.

He stopped coming into our secret place for a while. I knew it was because of Madison. Shortly before he stopped coming he said that he had asked her out.

I really wanted to tell people about Dylan then. Instead, I waited until my mother was asleep and walked through the mirror where Harley still met me like he had been doing for several years. It was then that I would collapse on the grass and cry where I knew no one could hear me.

It felt empty without him. I had forgotten those first few months when I had been alone. I thought I might have been relieved, because I was always complaining that he was always angry with me and that he wasn't as much fun anymore, but I missed him. I missed his moods, I missed his laugh, his smile, the way he looked at me sometimes; I missed everything about him. Even Harley couldn't cheer me up.

I stopped going for a little while. I didn't stop completely, but I only went in every second night and then every third and sometimes I didn't go in for a whole week. Even though it was pointless, I made up excuses when I saw Harley again. I swear he knew I was lying.

I eventually stopped going altogether.

When Dylan disappeared, my mother started seeing someone else. His name was Jason, and his son Christopher went to my school. My dad was also beginning to push me away, because he had remarried and his new wife, Beverley, was expecting a baby. I felt like everyone had moved on with their lives and I was being left behind.

When my mother tells people about me when I was sixteen, she says that I was acting 'out of sorts'. I started staying out late with people I didn't used to hang out with. They would drink during the week and sometimes they smoked pot. I didn't know what I was doing; all I knew was that I didn't want to feel so lonely anymore. I learned that vodka tasted disgusting, but it made me forget how I felt when I was sober. Pot sometimes made me sick, but it made me happy about the tiniest things, and a lot of the time it only lasted for a little while, but it didn't matter.

I didn't talk to my mom like I used to. When my dad called I just hung up on him, because I didn't want to hear how happy he was with Beverley and baby Ryder. I never came home for dinner and once I hit Jason when he told me off for making my mom cry one night.

I didn't feel better though. The vodka soon brought me back down to earth and the pot could only make me happy for a few minutes. One of the guys, Tyler, tried to kiss me one night and that made me feel happy for a little while so I kissed him back. I spent a lot of time kissing him and staying the night at his usually empty house smoking pot and drinking.

I didn't think things were going to get better. I had gotten myself into a different routine from the one I had before. I had stopped responding to the mirror when it glimmered and after a while it stopped shining. It didn't matter though, because there was nothing left in the secret place. It didn't even have a name, so it didn't matter anyway. It wasn't real; I was beginning to feel invisible along with it.

One Friday night I invited Tyler over to my house when my mom and Jason were out. Christopher usually spent his Friday nights at someone's house party, but I was never invited out with him because once he took me to a party with him and I spewed all over myself and passed out naked in the bathroom with one of the football players.

We were making out in my bed and I had just taken off my bra. He started pulling down my tights, but I didn't want him to do that. It was the one thing I still felt I had control over.

"I don't want to do that."

"Come on Violet," he whispered, kissing my neck. "I love you."

I didn't believe that he did. I believed Tyler would say that to anyone to get in their pants. I knew he was sleeping with other people, but I didn't care, because I didn't really like him that much. I just liked being with someone. When I was with someone I could ignore the thoughts in my head.

For a minute I let him kiss my neck and slowly pull down my tights, because I wanted to feel close to someone. I thought that if I had to sleep with him, then I could just pretend he was someone else. I was quite content to do this until I realised that I wasn't ready to take that next step, regardless of who I pretended Tyler was. When I felt him putting his hand down my tights, I pushed it away. He tried to kiss me and I turned away.

"I'm not ready. I don't want to."

"Violet, stop being such a tease and just do it," he hissed and he took my face in his hands and forced me to kiss him. For a second I considered just giving in because I didn't want to make him mad, but I didn't like how he made me feel.

"No! Get off!"

He kept on trying to kiss me, but I continued pushing him away. He didn't stop and kept saying things like how I really did want it and I was just being a bitch. He tried to touch me again, but I kicked him between the legs and he sauntered back.

"You bitch, you fu –"

"Get out! I never want to see you again! Get out, or I'll call the cops!"

I was desperate to cry, but I didn't. I pointed to the door and willed my hand not to shake. He glared at me and stormed off, slightly limping. I followed him and watched as he slammed the front door and the moment he did I ran downstairs and locked it, bursting into tears as I ran back up to my room.

I thought I would spend the rest of the night drinking to try and forget what happened, but when I got back into my bedroom I noticed a light I hadn't seen for a long time. I noticed it through the corner of my eye as I slipped on the shirt I had been wearing, but when I looked clearly I saw that it was the mirror. A tear escaped my eye and I froze, unsure what to do next.

I could have stayed in my bedroom and just smoked some pot. I'm sure if I had done that then the mirror never would have glimmered again. That night was my last chance to believe and I had nothing left to lose. I walked through the mirror.

The field smelled fresher than I remembered. The sun was brighter and the feeling beneath my feet was more refreshing. When I heard Harley barking, I immediately kneeled down and started stroking him excitedly. I was still crying, but I didn't know why anymore.

"Harley, I've missed you so much."

He seemed different. His fur wasn't the exact colour of snow any longer; it looked stained with patches of brown and there was something different about his face.

"Hey, pal, did you get older?"

"That's what I thought."

I froze, like the first time I heard that voice, but it was different now. I had adjusted to the fact that I was likely never going to hear that voice again. I had resigned myself to thinking that it would be a memory only I would be able to recall. I even thought about writing it as I got older; the story of the secret world where the girl with fire coloured hair played with the golden haired boy in a place where no one would ever find them.

Dylan was taller. He was like all the boys in my class; I felt like I was shrinking in comparison. The feelings I wasn't aware I still had overwhelmed me, but I stayed in place even though I could have easily pounced on him.

"Maybe that's what happens when people stop visiting him," I said, wondering how I looked. I knew my tights were ripped and my make-up must have been smudged.

"Why did you stop visiting him?"

"It wasn't the same. Why did you stop coming back?"

"I was an idiot, Vi. I know that. I got so caught up with Madison and everything going on that I –"

"You forgot about us."

I didn't mean to start crying again. I remember once, when we were thirteen and I had just started getting my period; I was very emotional and I started crying in the tree house when we were joking about my parents' divorce. I said something about how I'd spotted my dad kissing a strange woman in the car and then I just burst into tears. Dylan didn't know what to do. He tried to put his arm around me, but I didn't want him to touch me. He then got angry and told me to stop acting like a pussy and grow up.

It was different this time. I felt Harley leaning into me as if he knew the answer. A minute I sensed Dylan sit down next to me and then he pulled me into his arms. I thought that I might stop crying, but instead I cried harder, but he didn't seem awkward around me.

"Hey, I didn't forget about you," he whispered. "I was an asshole and I can't explain it, but I wanted to distance myself from this place. I should have talked to you about it."

Dylan explained how he couldn't just accept that the conditions of our friendship and the mirrors were unexplainable. He said that a lot of things in his life didn't make sense and that when he came to the secret place it only made everything worse. He said he couldn't justify everything as being magical any longer.

"So, what made you come back?"

"I'm never going to be able to explain these mirrors and why we can walk through them or how a dog was conjured up out of thin air," he replied, a small smirk on his face. "But you're real, Violet, and that's good enough for me."

I could have kissed him at that moment, because I have a feeling he would have kissed me back, but I didn't. Instead, he held me in his arms for a long time. We didn't talk much, but that was alright. It was enough for me just to know that he wasn't seeing Madison any longer, so would be coming back to our secret place.

It was almost like we were kids again; there were no more awkward silences or short tempers. When we met each other at night we immediately made our way to the tree house and just talked for hours when we weren't playing with Harley.

Dylan expanded on what he meant when he said nothing seemed to make sense. He said that he became increasingly frustrated that he didn't have anyone to talk to about 'becoming a man'. He became angry that his father was dead and confronted feelings of grief he didn't even realise he had. It was only when he talked to his Uncle that he slowly accepted his father's death and how it was alright to feel confused about everything.

He also talked about how he had all these feelings about what he wanted to do to Madison and joking about them with his friends wasn't enough. He said he was constantly feeling sexually frustrated and didn't know what to do. He said he felt disgusted with himself because he didn't want to think he was the guy who only wanted to have sex with his girlfriend. At one point he said it wasn't just Madison he had feelings for, but he quickly changed the subject before I could ask more. I tried listening when he talked about his feelings with Madison and even though he constantly spoke in the past tense it still felt like being stung over and over again.

"I feel like I shouldn't have left you when I did," he told me when we were in the tree house. It came out of nowhere. Just a moment before he had been introducing me to the music he had been listening to recently.

"What do you mean?"

"I can tell things weren't great when I was gone," he replied, but I didn't move. My expression remained blank, because I didn't want him to know he was right. "You were really messed up over what happened with your parents and I feel like shit that I just left."

"But you came back," I shrugged. The bitter resentment I held towards Dylan had evaporated since he came back and I didn't want him to feel guilty. "That's the important thing."

"Are you okay?" He asked, putting his arm around me.

"I wasn't for a long time," I told him. "But I am now."

I don't know who kissed who. I don't think it matters, because the important thing was that we did kiss and it was amazing. When it happened, I realised that it should have happened a long time ago, because I just kept thinking 'finally'. It was the best kiss I'd received, but that might have been because I didn't have feelings for anyone who had kissed me before.

The kiss stopped itself and when it did, I worried that he regretted it, because I didn't know what he was thinking. He was stroking my cheeks and I thought that maybe he was worried that he had crossed a line, but we had crossed it together.


I kissed him again and he didn't object to it so I began to feel better. We kissed for a long time and eventually I was lying on top of my jacket and he was lying on top of me. I could have stopped it at the kissing. I've always wondered why we didn't wait a little longer. We were kissing each other desperately, because we knew that we didn't have a lot of time. Eventually, he pulled away from me and looked at me the same way I'd caught him looking a few times before when we were younger.

"I love you, Vi."

"I love you too."

When he took off his shirt I didn't say anything. When he took off my shirt I didn't say anything. I was the one who undid my bra. He didn't say anything when he started unbuttoning his jeans.

"Okay," I said.

I'm not sure whether we moved too fast, because it doesn't feel like it. It feels like it was always going to happen. Sometimes I think I should say that I did regret it, but I don't. I think that if we could go back, we wouldn't have done anything differently. It all seemed to go so fast. Afterwards we just lay in the tree house together, talking things over.

"Do you think anyone did that in the tree house?" I asked him.

"I don't know, and I don't think I want to know," he smirked. He kept on looking at me like I'd given him this amazing gift. "Do you regret anything?"

"I regret not doing anything sooner," I replied, kissing him softly. "When you think about it, it's actually one of the sweetest stories in the world."

"I know; we grew up together after finding out that our mirrors were portals to another realm, it would be a great fantasy film made to exploit millions out of their money," he said dryly and I elbowed him in the ribs. "Seriously, Vi, what happens now?"

"I don't know, Dylan," I shrugged, taking his hands. "I do know that we're graduating high school soon."

"That's true," he nodded. "We're growing up."

"We're not strangers anymore," I said, and I was hoping that I wouldn't need to spell out what I was trying to say. I felt very vulnerable wearing nothing except my underwear and I didn't want to feel stupid on top of that. "I think I can safely say you're not dangerous anymore."

"I don't think that would have happened if either one of us was dangerous," he laughed and then he kissed me. I didn't want him to let me go. "I can see it's getting darker out there, so why don't we talk about all this tomorrow?"

I nodded my head and then we started getting dressed. I couldn't stop smiling and I had to turn my back to him in case he thought I was an idiot. We walked back to the empty field with Harley ahead of us. We held hands until we got to the front of the mirror. I didn't want to let go, but after we kissed he smiled at me.

"We'll talk about everything tomorrow night, okay?"

"Okay," I nodded, trying not to smile so widely. "I'll see you in a little while."

"I meant what I said, Vi," he called after me. "I do love you."

When I walked through the mirror back into my bedroom, I immediately collapsed on my bed and sighed in relief. My heart was pounding and I couldn't remember the last time I had felt so happy. I just kept thinking about the way he looked at me and how it felt when he said 'I love you'. I really wanted to jump on my bed screaming, but the sun was only just starting to come up and Jason's other son, three year old Jack, was asleep in the guest room. Everyone was still asleep, unlike me. I usually tried to get back to sleep, but I didn't think I could, not now.

"Violet, you seem really happy this morning," my mom said to me, when I served breakfast in the kitchen. She had been making comments like that a lot because I don't think she could accept that the dark phase I went through before was gone for good. From her perspective, there was no reason for me to change my behaviour. Only I knew the truth.

"Do I?" I knew I was, because I was still ecstatic over what had happened earlier. It wouldn't be long before I could meet up with Dylan and then introduce him to my family. Even though there would always be a secret, he didn't have to be a secret anymore. "I guess I'm in a good mood."

She didn't say anything and I think it was because she didn't want to disturb the peace. I've often felt guilty about how I treated my mother when I was going through my dark phase. She's the only person who never left me and she had every right to.

I thought about Dylan all day. I couldn't even tell my friends what had happened and it is a big deal when you have sex for the first time. I had questions and I considered going to the guidance counsellor, because there were a couple of things I wanted to clear up, but I didn't want to tell her who it was or anything. We had been safe and he had respected me throughout. In my experience, those were the significant things when 'making love'.

I wondered whether we would end up having sex again that night and whether it would be better. It wasn't that it was bad, but it wasn't meant to be perfect the first time. I was still getting over the fact that it had happened at all. I had thought about it for a long time and I knew my feelings for him were developing beyond my control and I was unsure I would have been able to remain friends with him without having to be honest.

On the way home from school I thought about what Dylan and I would talk about when we saw each other that night. I was going to suggest that we swap numbers or at least email addresses so that we could start at least pretending to form a foundation of friendship to the outside world. I wanted to be closer to him. I suppose I wanted to believe he was real, just in case he slipped away again. I considered mentioning that maybe we could look into attending the same college, or attending colleges that were close by, because it was unlikely we would be able to take the mirrors with us.

I went up to my bedroom to write everything out so that I didn't stumble over any of my words. I sat down on my bed with a notebook and pen, wondering how to say everything without sounding stupid. I looked at the mirror and smiled, knowing that he was going to be there soon.

Or, I would have been smiling at the mirror if it had actually been there.

The mirror was gone. I jumped up from my bed and turned round, examining every part of my room. It wasn't there. The mirror was not in my bedroom.

Maybe my mom had moved it. I ran into the guest room where it used to be, but that was just covered in Jack's things and I doubted very much that Jason would have wanted a huge mirror that could have easily crushed his son in his bedroom.

The mirror wasn't in my mom and Jason's room either, which had been my last hope because I knew how much she adored it. I checked every single room upstairs, including the storage room for the ironing board and things, but it wasn't there either. I checked upstairs, but there was no sign of it. It wouldn't have fit anywhere downstairs. Once, my mom had tried to move it downstairs, but it didn't look good anywhere and that was when she had decided to move it into my room.

My heart was thundering in my chest as I forced myself to accept that something was wrong. I was so sure that it had been moved, but I couldn't see it anywhere. There was a problem. The thought of it started to make me feel sick.

Mom was in the kitchen cooking the dinner and as I approached her I took a deep breath and tried to sound casual, because there was no way I could let her know how upset I was.

"Hey mom, did you move the mirror in my bedroom?"

When she sighed and took her time turning round I knew something was wrong. I tried to smile like I was just curious and not at all bothered about it. She looked really guilty when she finally looked at me.

"Violet, I am so sorry," she said to me. "Jack was playing with a football earlier and your bedroom door was open –"

"Why was it open?" I didn't mean to make the question sound sharp, but I had a feeling I knew what happened and I didn't want it to be real.

"I left it open when I was dropping off your laundry," she explained and she really seemed to dread what she was about to say next. "Anyway, Jack got into your room and I'm guessing he kicked the football straight into the glass and it smashed. We're really lucky that he didn't get hurt or anything, because there was a lot of glass."

Jack had smashed the mirror. The mirror was broken. It was gone. I couldn't seem to absorb the information.

"I'm glad he's okay," I said, because I didn't want to sound selfish. "So, there was no way to fix the mirror?"

"No, sweetie," she shook her head. "Jason took it to the dump because we have had it for a long time and I always thought it seemed a little out of place in your room."

I was only hearing little bits of what she said, because I was still struggling to accept that it was gone. The mirror was gone forever, because Jason had taken it to the dump. The mirror was gone and that meant that Dylan was gone.

I could explain at great length, the devastation that absorbed me following the news that the mirror was gone, but even now I don't like to think about it. I remember standing in my bedroom that night, hoping that some part of the mirror had been left behind that would allow me to go back. However, mom had ensured that every piece of glass had been cleaned up and Jason had kept no trace of the mirror. He bought me a replacement that he hammered into the wall and a part of me thought that maybe the magic had become a part of me and not just the mirror, but I wasn't able to bring the mirror on the wall to life.

I never went back the secret world again. I never saw Harley again. I never went back to place that was constantly warm and sunny. I never saw the tree house again. I never retrieved the books I had left there. The forest is only a memory. Everything is just a memory.

As much as I wanted to forget what happened, the mirror would always remain a part of me. A couple of months after it smashed, I realised that the sickness bug I had been carrying around for several weeks wasn't actually a bug. I guess that Dylan and I hadn't been safe enough that night. I had to tell my mother that the father was a stranger and I'll never forget how disappointed she was.

He was born soon after I graduated high school. I considered calling him Dylan, because he looked an awful lot like his father. I didn't though; I called him Harley. It wasn't so hard saying Harley's name out loud.

I have never been able to find a mirror like the other one even though I've tried. I know more about antiques than anyone my age and even older. I now believe that there were only two mirrors created and my step-brother destroyed one of them. The only mirror like mine is the one that belongs to Dylan's family, or belonged, because I don't know if they still have it anymore.

I have never seen Dylan since that night. The only thing I know about him is that he lives in Boston, but it's been a long time since I talked to him. He could have moved and left the mirror behind. For a while I tried to trace the purchase of his mirror, but his grandfather had it for a long time and I've never been able to find the information I need.

I often wonder whether Dylan has tried to find me, but I don't know. I try not to think about what happened to him when I didn't come back. I've spent a long time worrying that he doesn't know what really happened. I regret not telling him I love him one last time. I never want him to think that it was my choice not to come back.

The thing I regret most of all is that he'll probably never find me again. He'll never find us.

I've never spoken about him to anyone, but I wanted to write everything down now, because I have to remember it. I have to know that it was real. I have to know he was real, because at least then I might see him again.


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