You go to college. A good college. When you were younger you dreamed of a middle tier college on the west coast because you were trying to be reasonable about your intelligence. Then when you found out you were smart, you dreamed of the best. When you discovered the East Coast you knew you belonged, so you changed your dreams [Harvard]. You thought it was pretentious when you discovered what admissions counselors call the perfect fit and you set your sights on the city (you can't live without your culture).

There you meet your roommate and she becomes your best friend. Late at night you tell her how your grandmother has remained lifelong friends with her college roommate, and the two of you make plans for the nursing home.

A few weeks into your freshman year, you find yourself under a tree clutching a book [Ulysses or Alice in Wonderland even though you've read it before]. It's afternoon and the lighting is cinematic (you love the way it rolls of your tongue). The sun shines through the trees and spotlights you. A B-O-Y walks up to you and asks to take your picture. You're excited because you were always the photographer in high school—you wanted to be the model every once in a while.

He sits and talks to you and your sarcastic banter surprises—you're so shy, but you're comfortable with him. He laughs with you and he's (teenageheartthrobboybandinte rnetstalkingfindthesimilarit iesshriekingomigodhesperfect ) PERFECT.

You contemplate this razor sharp love edge with a touch of melancholy. You always dreamed of falling in love with your best friend, and you just met this perfect boy. You suppose you can settle for falling in love and becoming best friends in the process.

When he doesn't make a move, you recall telling him you had been hurt and wanted to focus on yourself. You wonder if he's respecting this (what a gentleman) but your insecure voice (stupiduglydumbbitchwhywouldh ewantyouyouareapatheticexcus eforahumanbeingyou donotdeserveloveorhappiness) tells you he's not into you.

He becomes your best friend (besides aforementioned roommate) and one night in your sophomore-junior year you're hanging out and laughing and he kisses you and your fantasy voice (lifeisadisneymovieandIamthep rincesssoeverythingisperfect andeveryoneisaromantictruelo veexistsIshouldbesingingandd ancingrightnow) tells you he's been waiting to do that and he couldn't hold it in any longer. He tells you he's been in love with you since he saw you under that tree (sunspeckledgoldenhairedbookl overintellectualbeauty) and he couldn't wait to kiss you. Your former feelings rise up and take over, and you confess your love.

You date for the appropriate 2-4 years. You enter grad school in another big city (you need your culture) to study something thought provoking and earn the Dr. title. He works and you study and you live in a smallxsmaller apartment but you're happy being together.

He proposes on a beach at twilight after a nice dinner while you hold your heels in your hand and walk in the sand. You say yes then you slow dance in the waves while you admire how nicely the diamond reflects the moon.

Your wedding is modest sized with family and friends. You have a respectable number of bridesmaids with roommate/best friend serving as the maid of honor because she is your best friend out of all your best friends (firstamongequalsyouspentsoma nynightsuplaughingandtalking andshehastrulybeentherethrou ghitallbyyourside) and she does a fine job in dark purple (your favorite color). People dance and drink and laugh like they're supposed to and you play your [alt-rock romance] and dance with HIM and you play music from your past, cool music and fun music.

You honeymoon in Europe for three weeks because you know you'll spend at least a week locked in the hotel and you want time to do things. You end up in the hotel for a week and a half. You explore and you both take pictures (you get to be the model again, shyly denying that you want pictures but enjoying every minute) and you savor the beauty and culture, soaking it up.

Graduate degree on the wall and d r in front of your mutated surname, you embark on having 1.86 kids, a boy first because you always wanted an older brother then a girl four years later because that always seemed like a good span of time. They grow up smart like their parents—thinkers like their mother and dreamers like their father (youwerealwaysscaredyouwouldb ejealousofyourkidsbutyouaren otandthismakesyouhappybecaus eyoujustwantthebestforthem) and they're perfect.

They grow up and move and you and HE are those old people still in love and seeing the world (inastartoverletspretendtobey oungagainbecausethereissomuc hworldoutthereway) and loving life, still taking pictures and you still get to be the model (youaredifferentnowwithdeeper eyesbutabrightersmileandhesa ysyouareasbeautifulasthedayu nderthetree) and everything feels right.

He dies first and you're not sad because it was his time. You smile remembering that book from your childhood and at life expectancy+some you feel content and the amor fati you learned when you were younger makes sense.

You die in your sleep on an afternoon not unlike the first one. You dream of him and smile. You won't see him after death but you remember his face now. He looks like the boy with camera and you look like the girl with the book. And you smile.