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Authors: Sarah Buhl
Maggie asked as she put on a long, thick sweater. She wrapped it around herself and pulled on her stocking cap. Hannah gave her a smile with a raised brow, and Maggie shrugged as she put her gloved hand in my direction.
    My response was to follow her and grab my jacket before heading outside. We kept our hands together. It was wholesome and felt pure. When we reached the sidewalk, I let go of her hand and put my arm out for her to take.
    “Why, thank you, sir,” she said with a smile. She tilted her head to the sky and breathed in deep. “I love the smell of winter just on the horizon.”
    I followed her lead and did the same thing because I loved the cold smell.
    “It feels cleaner, doesn’t it? Like the air is so cold there’s no room for the bad smells and chemicals we smell in the city,” I said.
    “Yes. I love winter and I can’t wait for it this year. You know some people hate it. I love it. My favorite thing in the world is a full moon in the middle of nowhere on a winter night. The ground is covered with snow and the moon is so bright, it makes the nighttime light up. It’s magical,” she said as she looked at the waxing moon hanging in the sky.
    She walked again, and I switched arms I had her hold onto.
    “Hannah, Lily, and I used to sit out in the field behind their house and watch the night sky, waiting for falling stars. That was during the summer, but during the winter we would sneak out at night and run through the field and twirl under the moon. That was amazing,” she said and closed her eyes, breathing in the night air again.
    “Why did you ask me to join you and not anyone else?” I asked.
    “Because, you understand what I’m going through better than anyone else. I don’t know why, but you do,” she said with a squeeze to my arm.
    I stopped our walk and turned to her. I put my hands on the tops of her arms and met her eyes. I liked the smallness of her and it made me feel even more protective and watchful. “I think it’s because we’re both wounded. So I see that in you, and I understand it. When people know you’re wounded—whether in battle, from disease, or by your own doing—they see you in a different way. It’s as if that is how you’re defined from that point forward. But, that isn’t you and it’s not me. We aren’t our disease or wound. We may not be wounded in the same way, but we both have wounds. So I understand that and I’m not looking at you different.”
    “What happened to you, Karl?” she asked, and it wasn’t the way others have asked me. She didn’t have the questions on her face like she did the first time I told her I had been in the military. Now she just wanted to know me and my story. We were two human beings connecting on a walk at night.
    The needle threaded once more. I tried to stop it. I knew if I threaded that needle now, there would be no going back. My heart felt like one of those empty pockets my grandma made. I couldn’t be more than a friend to her. She wasn’t mine to have. But that needle pulled the thread as soon as she asked the question.
    “You want to know?” I asked, and she nodded. “I will tell you part of it at a time, but you have to share some of yours, too. But we also have to tell one part of the wound and then a part of the healing. We can’t focus on the wounds. Deal?” I asked.
    “Deal,” she said as she pulled her hand from her glove and put her pinkie up.
    “You want me to pinkie swear with you?” I asked on a laugh.
    “Of course I do,” she said, wiggling her finger at me.
    “Okay, then.” I grabbed her finger with mine and we kept them held for a moment as she gave me a soft smile. She pulled my hand up by our little fingers and lifted them until they were between our faces. She kissed my knuckle and dropped my hand.
    The thread pulled through the needle and a knot formed on the end .
    “I served active duty and had a couple deployments. Regardless of where I was, I spent a lot of time being bored,

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