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July 2017 Writers' Challenge

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  • 01 Jul 2017 7:58 AM
    Message # 4927520
    Anonymous

    The road is long. The skies are ominous. Did you take a wrong turn? Why isn't anyone else taking this road? Maybe this could be the end. Keep the keyboard hot and let your imagination roam.

    Happy writing!


    Note: To enter the Writers' Challenge, click the this link: "Writers Challenge", and post your work to the forum labeled "Writers' Challenge" for that month's challenge. Once your work has been posted, you can visit the pamlicowritersgroup.org and view you work on our site. To access your work and the work of others, click on the menu tab, "Open Forum" in the dropdown menu click on the "Writers' Challenge." There you can view your work.

    Last modified: 01 Jul 2017 8:04 AM | Anonymous
  • 02 Jul 2017 2:48 PM
    Reply # 4928822 on 4927520
    Anonymous

         Violet Moment

    Donner und Blitzen

    I look in the mirror and my hair is frizzed like that guy in the movie, I think I’ve had this thought before.

    Snapcrack, followed by another sharp, ear piercing SNAPCRACK. I have to peel myself off the bedroom ceiling, and fall back into bed. SNAPCRACKS, continuous, without pause or breath. I think of all the storms we’ve had in this place this must be the worst. Our alarm clock isn’t displaying time so there must be a power failure. In the utter dark, I crawl out of bed, guided by the erratic flashes from outside.

    I stare out the old picture window with my pupils dilating and contracting in response to the intense lightning display and I see purple, noooooooooo, my art instructor has been weaning us from that word, violet, that’s it, violet in the totality of its value scale, dark to light. Way west I see a cadmium red sun slipping beneath the storm shelf. There is no movement in the trees, no wind effects heard or seen, just atomic movement in violet hues. My husband is working a swing shift, so I became the daring do.

    I slip shorts over my baby dolls, got into my car to chase the cadmium red with my camera.

    Moisture is suspended in the air, yet my tires make a sizzling sound, reminiscent of frying bacon, I was doing 80 mph, the sun is known to slip quick in its final moments of day. No one else was out and about, so I eased up to 90. The lightning displayed a baudy hootchie cootchie dance beat. The nightclubs of the 1960’s come to mind when strobe lights were atmosphered onto the darkened dance floor, and one’s dance partner was observed in spastic stop/start moves, one millesecond here, the next there. My dashboard reflected like that now, the cadmium red did not seem to come closer.

    Sudden silence surrounds me. The storm continued, yet now it was as though a mute button had been pressed. My scalp tingles, I look into the rear view mirror and see a middle aged woman with haloed hair, perm like, much like that of the scientist in “Back To the Future”. The silence bothers me, I open my mouth to initiate a Carol Burnett Tarzan holler, and nothing, absolutely nothing. The speedometer creeps up without my having initiated it. In fact, I could not feel my foot on the pedal, flash flash, flash, Blitzen with no Donner. What a time to remember sophmore German. I look down, and I’m not there. I can move my eyes up, down, back, forth, but that’s all. Violet, a dense atmosphere, have I sped into outer space. I’m reminded of Hubble pictures. Am I dead? Is this infinity?

    Since I don’t feel my heart racing, I don’t panic. I just watch the Violet Blitzen and wait.

    Slam! My eyes pop, wait, that sounds like the garage door, then the sound of a key followed by footsteps. A voice calls, “With all that noise out there you must be awake.” “Did we lose power?” I look over to there is now a flashing red number, am I in bed, Am I alive?

    “Honey, I would have got come home sooner but traffic lights are out everywhere and the idiots don’t know how to drive”. Steps come into the bedroom. I close my eyes, and then force them open. Overhead lights are turned on and I’m blinded, he kisses me. I respond, I think, “I ain’t dead yet!” My body manuevers, he laughs, “What happened to your hair?. I go to the mirror and the haloed perm is full flush.



  • 05 Jul 2017 9:06 PM
    Reply # 4934833 on 4927520
    E. Lettick

    Randy Olson’s rusted Ford station wagon roared down the dirt road toward the harbor. The weather had changed drastically from a clear Rhode Island day forecasting light winds and sunshine to an ominous dark sky, veins of lightning stretched across the horizon. Island tourists had run for shelter into local taverns and restaurants to ride out the storm over beer and shots.

    Randy’s mother and her new friend, Jim, had set sail that afternoon on his 27 foot sloop, Ginger Snap. The promise of lunch at The Blue Goose and a sail to North Light had intrigued his mother and seemed to be the way this Jim guy was going about impressing her. Thoughts of his mother out in this storm alone with a man she hardly knew made Randy crazy. He didn’t like Jim—too showy and smooth. Randy had warned her she didn’t know him well enough to accept an invitation to go out all afternoon alone on a boat with him. What would she do if he tried anything with her?

    Randy bristled when she had dismissed him so quickly. “Randy, you worry too much. Jim’s a real gentleman and has been sailing for years.”

    An orange light flashed on the road ahead . Randy slowed and read the words “Marina Closed.” He slammed his palms against the steering wheel. He needed to get through to search the docks for signs that his mother was safely in port. And when he knew she was, he’d give Sailor Jim a piece of his mind. What kind of a boater doesn’t check the weather?

    Although the entrance was barred, the departing gate remained open allowing boat owners and restaurant patrons to leave. Seeing no security standing guard, Randy decided the coast was clear and he could risk it. He crossed over the divider, drove through the exit side, and headed down the one way street toward the docks. Through the blinding rain two bright headlights charged into his path. A long angry blast from the oncoming pickup’s horn and a shrill screech of brakes panicked him. He swerved and found himself hydroplaning and headed into a gulley off the side of the road.

    Randy’s pulse quickened and he struggled to gain control, his breath coming in short gasps. For a split second he wondered if this was it. Would he die risking something stupid? The car lurched and came to an abrupt stop.

    The driver of the other car and his passenger jumped out and ran through the downpour to his. Hands banged on his window. “Randy! Are you all right?”

    Through the torrent of rain Randy recognized the alarmed face of his mother. He rolled down the window. “Mom? Yeah.  I guess I’m okay.” He was too embarrassed and angry to even look at the man who stood by her side, concern written across his face.  Jim’s clothes were dripping wet and getting wetter by the minute.

    His mother yanked open the back door and slid into the back seat.  “Randy, you could have been killed. What were you thinking?” She hugged him from behind.

    He shrugged her off. “I was thinking my mother was out in the bay in an ugly storm with a man she just met who I don’t even like.”

    Jim furrowed his brow and turned to his date. “Janice, I’ll move my truck. I’ve got a chain to tow him out.” He walked toward his pickup.

    “Mom, I don’t need him to tow me out. I can get out of this myself.” Randy gunned the engine. The wheels spun and dug deeper into the muddy gulch. He tried rocking the wagon back and forth, pushing it into reverse and then forward, again reverse, then forward. The wheels only dug deeper.

    Jim parked his pickup a few feet in front of Randy’s, and with the chain in his hand, he walked back over to Randy’s car door and leaned in. “Listen, you can calm down and stop acting like a nitwit and let me put this thing on your bumper so I can take your mother home and she can dry off, or you can continue with your tantrum and you can work this out yourself. After all, I’m sure you’ll be able to get a tow truck here in a couple of hours for a mere $200. Now, what’s it gonna be?”

    “Randy. Let Jim tow you out. I want to go home,” ordered his mother.

     Randy pushed Jim aside and stomped out of the car. He stared at the tires swallowed up by mud. How was he going to get out of this?

    His mother rolled down her window. “Stop being so stubborn and let Jim drag you out of here.”

    Randy looked from his mother’s drenched face to Jim’s hard gaze and knew he was defeated.  He sneered at Jim. “Fine. Go ahead and be the hero.”

    He stormed into the car and sulked waiting for Jim to hook up the chain to the front bumper. In fifteen minutes the station wagon was out of the mud and headed in the correct direction.  His mother told him to wait a minute while she thanked Jim.  Randy fumed while he waited.

    His mother finally returned and slid into the front seat. “I have never been so embarrassed. I don’t understand what got into you.”

    Randy ignored the reprimand. “You’re not going to see that guy again are you?”

    “As a matter of fact, I am.  That guy is one of the most interesting, kind people I’ve met on this island since we arrived.Next weekend we’ll take the sail he wisely cancelled today after he checked his weather radar. “ His mother’s  words sank in.

    “By the way,  I just invited him over for dinner to apologize for my son’s outrageous behavior tonight.  And guess who’s  going to help me make the dinner?”

    Randy and his mother rode home in silence.


  • 06 Jul 2017 8:57 AM
    Reply # 4935465 on 4927520
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)

    I am always surprised by the interpretations of the picture prompts.

    Eileen, as always you write a fabulous story, well edited and well done.

  • 07 Jul 2017 5:42 PM
    Reply # 4937804 on 4927520
    Gloria A. Loftin

    The Road

    “Skywolf says the roads have brought evil to the Native American people,” Ahote tells his friends.

    “First they brought the white man, soldiers’, and then diseases that killed thousands of our people down many dirt roads. They brought alcohol and now they bring the worst scourge of our people, drugs.” Ahote says in disgust at the slovenly behavior of his friends.

    The others just laugh at him for believing in the old Shaman.

    “Skywolf says that the thunder in the skies above the road is the angry Gods telling us to keep to the old ways,” Ahote tells them as they laugh at him and drink their whiskey.

     “Give over man, we do not believe in the old Gods or their punishment,” says Ahanu the oldest of Ahote’s friends. “You spend too much time on the old ways. We are the new generation, and we will live our lives according to the new ways,” says Ahanu.

    Achote leaves them to their booze and drugs as he walks with a heavy heart to the old Shaman’s house and enters.

    “I tried to tell my friends about the angry Gods that live in the storm clouds,” he says, as the Shaman Skywolf looks at him with sadness in his eyes.

     “They were never taught of the old God’s ways. They only learned what the white man told them in their schools. They only want what the white man wants now, to bleed the land of our sacred past.” says Skywolf.

    “They will see what I have said is true.” The old Shaman says. “Stay away from the mountain road tonight Ahote.” he warns.

    Ahote walks to his humble home on the reservation.  His mother greets him the door. “What have you been up to today Ahote,” she asks. He shrugs and walks into his room. The walls are covered with native lore. He seems to be the only one of his friends that still believes in the old ways. He worries for his friends that seem to be on the road to jail or worse.

    “Ahote,” yells Ahanu from outside the house. “We are going to go to the mountain road to race tonight. Are you coming with us?” he asks.

    “Skywolf says we need to keep away from the mountain road tonight. He says the Gods are angry,” replies Ahote.

    “Why do you listen to that old man?” Ahanu says. “We are going. If you are ready when we come by we will stop for you,” he says, as he walks away.

    Skywolf comes to Ahote’s house. “I know in your heart that you will go with the others Braves tonight. I will pray to the Gods to keep you safe, but they have their own will. That is all I will say. You are a young man now and can make up your own mind.” he says as he walks back to his house his heart heavy for his young friend.

    Ahote is torn between his friends and the old Shaman.  What would it hurt to just go with them to keep an eye on them, to keep them from harm?

    The horn honks outside Ahote’s house. “Have fun with your friends’ tonight,” his mom says.

    “Come on Ahote. The road waits,” shouts Ahanu. Much laughter and blustering talk reach him as he walks to the car.

    “I will drive us to the mountain road,” says Ahote. “You are all too drunk or stoned,” he says.

    “Whatever man,” says Ahanu. “Just get us there. The white boys are going to lose a lot of money tonight.” he brags.

    The clouds are darkening as they get closer to the mountain.  Ahote’s fears grow the farther he travels down the road. His hands start to shake as they get closer. The words of Skywolf thunder louder in his ears!

    “We must turn around,” Ahote says. “We will all die if we ride the road tonight. The Gods are angry that we do not heed their warning,” he says.

    “Get out of my car you coward,” shouts Ahanu. We will go on without you.”

    “Maybe we should listen to Ahote,” one of the other boys in the car, Ciqala says.

    “If the rest of you feel the same as Ahote and Ciqala, get out now! No one is going to stop me from the race tonight,” growls Ahanu.

    Ahote and Ciqala get out of the car and watch it race towards the mountain road.

    “I am afraid for them,” says Ciqala. “I wanted to be brave, but Skywolf is right. The old Gods are angry tonight.”

     The clouds have almost covered the road. The sky becomes dark gray, angry like a storm-tossed sea.

      Ahanu tries to turn the car around but it is too late. The storm covers the car and shouts of agony are heard by Ahote and Ciqala as they run towards their friends’ car. As they do the cloud lift into the sky and becomes clear with thousands of glittering stars. The car is gone.

    “Skywolf was right,” says Ahote. “He warned me not to go to the mountain road tonight. Why could I not stop our friends from this death?” he cries.

    “They would not listen to anything that you or Skywolf warned them about, and now they have paid the price of the angry Gods,” Ciqala speaks softly as he begins to change before Ahote’s stunned eyes.

    “We have been with you since your birth hoping for the old ways to take hold of your soul. You have passed every test we or Skywolf put in your path. You will become the Shaman now that we have called Skywolf to our tepee,” Ciqala says as he ascends to the heavens.

    Ahote stares down “the road” sad but with a new purpose. He will be the leader his people need. He will not let his tribe descend into apathy, but bring them to a new prosperity.

    He walks alone now.


  • 08 Jul 2017 9:49 AM
    Reply # 4938438 on 4927520
    E. Lettick

    Gloria,

    You have created your own Native American legend. This is a well-told story with just the right amount of suspense written around a very realistic teenage problem--peer pressure. I liked the flow of it and the authenticity of Native American lore.

  • 08 Jul 2017 10:35 AM
    Reply # 4938486 on 4927520
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)

    I agree with Eileen, Gloria, you have done a fabulous job of creating a believable story. Beautifully written. 

  • 09 Jul 2017 8:59 PM
    Reply # 4958479 on 4927520
    Julie

             Her hands clench the steering wheel. Hot tears burn her cheeks. She has had it this time. She cannot take any more of her husband’s negative remarks. He is bull-headed and selfish and yet blames her for all the problems they have. She works three jobs to keep them and  their three small children afloat. It is never enough. There is always something they have to charge on the credit card. And the bills pile up.

                She is driving to get away from the demands of another busy day at her house. “Mama!” “Rachel!” all day long. The one day she had off in so many weeks, she’s been awakened at 5AM and never got a chance to take a nap. To the point her nerves feel like the sharp overstimulated needles they have become. She welcomes the ominous clouds. They match her mood. Storm or not, she wants to drive.

                In the car, her little silver Corolla, she can play old, loud music and think. She steers herself out of the neighborhood, down the highway and ten towards the outskirts of town. She sees roads she’s never even seen before, her life consisting mostly of work and motherhood. Pre-schools and offices. That’s about as far as she goes. Her husband's words sting her mind while she drives. “You are going to have to do more. We cannot make it like this.”

                He has been a sloth. He sleeps until 2pm and lets her handle everything, the kids, their care, the laundry, the cooking-- all on her one day off. His ‘full-time’ work is really about 10 actual work hours per week. The rest is spent in the car or at home, ‘working’ from the computer. His computer work, she discovered, is porn. Their twin toddlers walked out of their home's front door, narrowly escaping being run over by passing cars while he did whatever men do while perusing porn and forgetting there is a world, much less young children about to be run over. She had only run their 3 year old to her pre-school down the road and come straight back. When she drove up, two teachers in the school across from their house were holding the squealing 18 month old boys under their arms while walking towards her. The boys were completely undone but mainly because they were stopped from their wild, unsupervised adventure. The men did not have much to say to her about the incident - just handed them to her with looks of disbelief, but her relief and gratefulness were obvious when she held them, sobbing.

                This drive, after ensuring that the children were safe and that her husband was actually watching them carefully this time, will hopefully help her get her mind straight before trying to discuss all the problems at hand with her husband.

             "Don't you DARE take your eyes off of them, you idiot," she warned, prior to slamming his laptop shut and taking it with her.

             In the car, she falls into another world. She lets the anger wash over her. She blares Sirius Radio's Hair Nation. After songs from Motley Crue, Ratt, the Scorpions and Bon Jovi, she feels a little bit better. Her mood is clearing and she's feeling tired, so decides to head back. Thinking of the children and what they could be getting into, she takes the very next turn to the right so she can go home. She will face what she must because she loves her children. Despite the stress, love for her children and anxiety about their well-being win.

                She approaches the turn and realizes she really did drive a long stretch. She has no idea where she is. The skies are darkening more and she realizes she could get in a mess if she does not head back. She pulls over to turn on Google Maps on her phone. She has to plug it into the lighter charger as the phone is about dead. She sees a cul-de-sac and decides to pull there so she does not have to a three point turn around. A feeling of panic washes over her as she sees something that feels like a dream. A man is standing at a house at the end of the cul de sac. The house is an old washed out sky blue with peeling paint. Cedar trees hide a lot of what she can tell is a pretty junky yard. The man standing in the drive-way seems eerily aware that she was coming. He looks right into her car. He looks at her, right into her eyes, as if he is expecting her. Or expecting something anyway.

                She nears the house as she must to go around the cul de sac. She keeps her eyes on him to watch what he is doing, and with the darkening sky above clouding her vision, she misses that her car is approaching a giant hole. With a big blur, the car sinks into the hole. Her fall seems like a dream. A sink hole, now used as a trap for an unlikely passerby.

                How did she get into this mess? How could this be happening? She looks up and sees the skies are darker still and it is about to storm. Google Maps announces "proceed to the end of Wellsley Road and take a left onto Highway 55".  Her heart sinks in knowing that no one else is going to be coming down this road.

                She is stuck. The man is approaching. She scrambles to other side of her car and her weight shifts it. She hears it creak, not knowing how secured she is. Another wrong move and it could fall down, however far down is.

                She opens her window, on the passenger side where she had scrambled before freezing in fear of her car's sudden descent. It is facing the top of the hole. She climbs out and can still reach the edge of the pit with her hands. She grasps on and tries to tell if her feet can touch anything below. She can hear the man and another one talking, laughing.

                What will they do to her?

                She holds the edge with a tight grip, fingers grasping gravel that wants to slip away from her. The car falls beneath her and she cannot tell how far down it went, but  the thud of it hitting the bottom of the pit and perhaps landing on what sounds like another car is not comforting. She hears the men approaching. She cannot hang on any longer. She will unfortunately need their help to get out. She does not have a good enough grip to climb up, nor upper body strength to pull up if she could get a grip.

                Instead, she lets go.

                In her split second decision she decided it was better than the alternative. Too much potential torture and trauma.

               And then, a loud crack of thunder awakens her from her dream. It is the thunder and not the sound of her car hitting another in a sink hole, thank goodness.

              Her lack of sleep caused her to drift off while waiting for Google to map her off of the strange road. She is startled when she comes back to consciousness and sees the dull blue house from her dream - her last vision as she drifted off. She drives carefully down the cul-de-sac, making sure there is truly road under her tires. A man and his son are out playing a game of catch and eye her warily, but she passes the house and heeds Google's directions to take a left off the road. She turns back towards her reality.

             The rain pummels her windshield, but the storm is no match for the dream. She is ready to get home and hug her children and weather whatever storm she must. Yes, it could be a lot worse she realizes. And this time in her life will pass. With or without her husband. She steps out of the car, into the rain, and breathes in her second wind.




  • 11 Jul 2017 9:05 AM
    Reply # 4967529 on 4927520
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)

    Racing the Storm


    Swollen and bruised, the storm clouds painted the sky with ominous shades of violet and crimson, diming the light of day to twilight. The electric scent of ozone warned of the coming rain.

    “Is there any news on the radio?” Caden asked, leaning forward in the driver’s seat, his shoulders tense. He peered out the windshield at the deepening clouds, the color leaching to gray. His anxiety was palpable though he tried to hide it with a smile when he looked her way.

    Shaking her head, Izzy twisted the dial. “There’s nothing but static.” She chewed her bottom lip and darted worried glances out the windshield. “The storm looks closer. Are you sure we can make it?”

    Caden gripped the steering wheel and pushed the gas pedal to the floor. “I don’t know, it feels like it’s racing us to town.”

    Lightning flashed, the wind buffeted the car lifting it off the road. Izzy gripped the door as the car shifted and regained traction. Caden struggled to keep the car on the road. Rain and hail pelted the car sounding like BBs in a tin can. They could barely see beyond the car’s hood as clouds encompassed the road and the storm intensified.

    “I don’t think we’re going to make it to your parents’ house tonight,” Caden said. “See if there’s a hotel nearby. Looks like we’re almost to town.”

    Izzy checked her phone but there was no service. “It’s still roaming. I think we’re going to have to do this the old-fashioned way.”

    “Is there a map in the glove box?”

    “A map, really?”

    He chuckled. “How did our parents do this without cell phones and internet?”

    Izzy strained against the seat belt trying to see the passing scenery.

    No cars cluttered the street. No sign of life in any of the shops. An awning hung lopsided, pulled from its moorings. The rusted brace scraped the brick façade, clanging their doom. Izzy reached for Caden’s hand. “Maybe we should have stayed in Tennessee.”

    The town was dark. “I think the power must be out,” Caden said, his voice edgy.

    “Do you have any cash?”

    “Not much.”

    Newly graduated from college and spending this last summer together, the best friends knew saying good-bye would be difficult. Izzy was starting ECU’s master’s program while Caden was joining his father’s architecture firm in Knoxville.

    “There.” Izzy pointed. “I think that’s an inn.”

    Caden splashed into the parking lot, stopping inches from the manager’s office. “I’ll see if I can get us a couple of rooms.”

    “One room. I don’t think I could stand to be by myself.” Unfastening her seat belt, she said, “I’m coming with you.” The wind shoved her door closed. Caden held the door open for her. It took their combined strength to close it.   

    Drenched, they ran into the inn’s office laughing away their fear.

    “Good God, you two look half-drowned.” A gray-haired woman with a kind round face hurried towards them with a couple of fluffy white towels. “What are you doing out in a hurricane?”

    Izzy wiped her face. “Thank you. We were traveling to see my parents when the storm came up.”

    “We didn’t have radio or cell service,” Caden explained toweling his head dry.

    The woman bobbed her head. “Cell service is spotty around here even in good weather.”

    Caden nodded. “Do you have any rooms to rent?”

    “We have an inn full of rooms. No one wants to stay here during this weather, but we don’t have any electricity and the generator only powers the freezers here in the main building.”

    “We’d like to rent a room to wait out the storm, but we have little cash. I have my debit card,” Caden said.

    “We can’t do nothing without the internet.” An older man stomped into the office, glaring at them. “You should have enough sense not to be traveling in this mess.”

    The old woman rolled her eyes. “We’re not sending these children out into that storm. Give them a room.”

    The old man grumbled but handed over a key. “You got any ID?” He wrote down their licenses numbers. “You’ll pay as soon as the power returns.”

    They agreed and after receiving a basket of snacks and water from the man’s wife, they made their way back out into the storm.

     Izzy found candles in the basket and lit them with the hotel matches.

    “If the storm gets dangerous we can get into the bathtub,” Caden said examining the room.

    “The wind seems to have lessened.”

    He peered out the window and shook his head. “I think there’s more to come.”

    Izzy whispered tearfully, “I don’t want this to be our last adventure together.”

    Caden touched her arm.

    She stared up into his dark eyes.

    “It won’t be, I plan to marry you.”

    She laughed. “We’ve never even dated.”

    He took her hand, caressing her fingers, he said, “We’ve been on several dates together.”

    “But not as a couple.”

    “I’ve loved you since we first met.” The wind howled. He pulled her to the bathroom. They huddled together as glass exploded nearby.

    “Why didn’t you tell me before?” Her voice trembled and she snuggled against him.

    “I didn’t want to lose your friendship.”

    Debris crashed against the walls. She turned in his embrace. He rubbed circles on her back, whispering nonsense against her hair.

    Izzy’s heart pounded. “I dreamed of being with you.”

    Caden laughed. “This is not the romantic moment I had in mind.”

    She smiled up at him. “I just wanted a date.”

    His big hands cradled her face. “I don’t want to leave without you.”

    “What about school?”

    He sighed. “You can transfer to UT.”

    “Or you could find a job here.”

    “Whatever we have to do to be together.” His lips brushed hers.

    “We’ll make it work,” she kissed him. “A long-distance relationship won’t be easy but we can do it.”

    He pulled her close. “Then we’d better make the most of the time we have left.”

     


  • 12 Jul 2017 8:20 AM
    Reply # 4969932 on 4927520
    E. Lettick

    Sherri, You've put together such a quick little glimpse of young love. I like the way you moved the story along through dialogue and wonderful pacing and description. Your final line foreshadowed what was to come with these two young lovers. Maybe we will meet them again?

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