I:

The day she began loving him is the day she learned to breathe. It was October, and the hair was falling across his forehead, and she reached her hand up to brush it out of his eyes. He caught her hand with his, and pressed a kiss to the inside of her wrist—in that moment, she was alive in a way she never had been before.

She was 22, and she was covered with wounds from a past that didn't make it easy for her to trust. There were things, she knew, that were stronger than love—there were things, she knew, that made love weak. She had spent the better part of her childhood waiting for her father to love her mother, waiting for her father to love her.

She spent the better part of her childhood crawling into her mother's bed in the middle of the night, she'd wrap her gentle arms around her mother's fragile body, and stroke her hair with the patience only a child can bring to their parent.

"You shouldn't have to do this, Gilly," Her mother would say, her voice warbling and sad.

"Shh," She would say—then, "I love you," And her mother would cry harder.

If her father stumbled home, she'd crawl out of their bedroom, holding her breath, and lie awake in her bed, waiting for the sun—this day, she knew, would be better.

She spent the better part of her childhood getting over that idea—realizing that tomorrow was not magic, and there was no salve to heal the gaping wounds—that they were, simply, a hazard of love.

And so, at 22, she brought her wrist to her body, and ran the pad of her thumb over the place his lips had touched.

"I love you." She said simply, but it was a revelation.

And he smiled, pulled her close to him, and dropped his lips to her ear—"I love you back."