‘Don’t,’ she said, as he got on one knee, ‘I trust you too much to get my hopes up. Maybe I’ll hold you. Maybe I won’t.’ He blinked at her from down on the floor. He gave nothing away. He gave her nothing but a smile and a game, both of them hooked and unable to stop. All they could do was see through the silliness.

‘Don’t take me seriously. Ever. If I offend you, don’t take me at all, put me down and walk away. It will not offend me. Don’t worry about what I think of you, it’s all good, I promise. Don’t think of me at night when it is cold, but in your dreams where you are safe.’ The rest, she thought…

Don’t tease me. Don’t make my heart sing for the briefest of moments, knowing full well you’re taking it back any second. Don’t tell me I’m more than I am. Don’t make out it’s fine. Stop trying to fix everything, because you fail. Don’t tell me clichés. Don’t comfort me. Don’t humour me. Don’t – ever – pity me. Don’t act like you don’t know me well enough. People do in the first thirty seconds. You know exactly what I’m like. Don’t play with me. Don’t assume I know myself better than you do. Don’t assume I can take it all. Don’t hang back. Don’t deny me common honours.

Don’t, it is dangerous. It threatens my existence and my constitution. Don’t. Just don’t.

He knew what she meant by ‘don’t.’ It was always done with a certain look, a dimple and a look down to check her feet were still there.

He blinked at her from down on the floor again. Again she uttered, ‘Don’t.’

‘I do,’ he knew, was what she meant to say.

This story will go on forever, until we don’t play games. And this is how we know each other, give each other names.


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