Here is the first final rough draft. I am not satisfied with the ending. I tried somehow combining the first paragraph with the conclusion, but got caught up in a different paragraph for the conclusion. Perhaps you guys can help me....I hope you like it!
She always felt as though she were playing a role to please those that surrounded her. As if possibly getting down to the core of her existence was too tumultuous of a task. It was always easier for her to feel more connected to her several figurative alter-egos. That way, she could find the bits and pieces of herself that truly added up and connected to one fucked up puzzle.
Whenever she had a boyfriend, she wouldn't wear too much makeup around her boyfriend's parents. She didn't want to look like a whore. Mostly, she'd wear her gym clothes and fix her long blonde hair in a ponytail and wear two sports bras to try and keep her breasts as flat as possible. No, no, no. She didn't want her boyfriend's mother to know that she was well-equipped with size double d breasts. She didn't want to depict the image of a voluptuous, sexual being. Didn't all mothers like to assume that their sons were asexual?
She had a handful of boyfriends over the past decade and they all believed that she was the wild vixen who was ready to fuck whenever they wanted. She had all types of scantily-clad lingerie that exposed her breasts as if they were penthouse tickets. With the help of alcohol, it was easy for her to establish an extravagant sex life filled with all kinds of toys and positions. No matter what time of day, she was ready to fuck. They all felt that she was a bit of a nympho and none of them complained.
The interaction with her conservative Grandmother was different, but she still felt like she was performing. They spoke of her favorite books and of all the things that she wanted to accomplish in life. She'd wear her preppiest clothes and quote Tolstoy or some of her favorite Elena Ferrante novels. She wanted to convey a very studious side to her Grandmother, who surrounded herself with intellectuals who went to prestigious Universities. She convinced herself that if she could speak eloquently about literature to her Grandmother that she was less of the black sheep in her conservative family.
To her peers in college, she performed the role of the party girl. Never mind her school-work, she was only at the University of Illinois to party after her dis-heartening rejection from Yale. She was notoriously known for frequenting bars even on Sunday nights. Although she wasn't in the Greek system, her partying ways enabled her to work at an all-Greek campus bar. She even had a bartending job at Hooters for a short period of time. She soon realized that her partying reputation had preceded her and that it made her employable.
To the world around her, she'd hold her chin up high as though she exuberated the confidence of a supermodel. Truly, she hid the fact that when she was alone in her room she'd undress in front of the mirror to pick apart her figure, especially over the past ten years, where she had fluctuated with her size. It didn't matter whether she was a size 0 or a size 14, she thought she was too fat. These insecurities were hidden by a bunch of bravado, but they were very real.
Currently, she felt as though she were playing the role of the perfect fiancé. Since she was on disability, which wasn't perfect, she spent most of her days cleaning her fiance's house, writing poetry, working out, and nesting within the house. She had come across some inheritance money and bought hundreds of dollars worth of décor. Since the outside of the house was a bit of an eye sore, it was important that everything appeared perfect on the inside. Truly, this was just a symptom that something was wrong in the household. Never before had she needed such a lavish interior. Perhaps it was as though if she could make everything appear perfect within, it would erase the fact that she did not truly love him.
So, why did she agree to marry him? Initially, she didn't. He proposed to her while they were in a hot air balloon. The romantic nature of the event pressured her to say, "yes", but the first thought to cross her mind was no. She never loved him the way that she loved someone else. In fact, she and her fiance had conversed via email over the past previous months, she regarded him as more of a friend. She became seduced by his incessant attention, by his constantly sending her flowers, by his affection for her, and by her desperate need to try and get over the man that she truly loved.
That man was Jay Fiore who she loved incomprehensibly and passionately. It was the only truly innocent love that she had ever felt in her entire life. She rarely masturbated to the idea of him, yet she wanted him desperately. A favorite poem of hers that conveyed her feelings for him was Lord Byron's, "She Walks in Beauty." The last line of the poem consists of, "A heart whose love is innocent!"
The love that she had for him was the most significant love of her life. Jay encapsulated all of the attributes of someone she wanted; therefore, she believed he was the perfect man. This made her want to strive to be her perfect self. She often asked herself what her perfect self would look like and be like. So, she was inspired to lose excessive amounts of weight as she tried to fulfill the role of the perfect potential girlfriend. She was even inspired to read more so that she could be as knowledgeable him and carry deeper, more intellectual conversations. If he was a walking encyclopedia, then she was going to be one, too. Although he was one of her biggest strengths, he was also one of her biggest weaknesses, causing her to try and overdose a handful of times over the past decade as she thought of him.
After all, Jay was a man that she met over the internet ten years earlier. How could she even begin to describe more about him? He was held so high on a pedestal that she couldn't even see him. She wasn't 100 percent sure what he looked like due to the many different attractive men in all of his photographs, but it didn't matter. Most of all, she was attracted to the way he made her laugh and how absofuckinglutely brilliant he was. He was like a walking encyclopedia.
He offered many firsts for her. Most of all, he was the first man with whom she didn't feel like she was pretending. She was her true self in all of the messages that she sent him. It was easy for her to be her goofy bastard self throughout the discourse of email, and this simply meant a lot to her. Furthermore, he was the first person whom she ever loved more than she loved herself, and why? Was it just because he was a Harvard English major, which she found to be so sexually and mentally appealing? No. Not only did he display incredible intelligence through his knowledge of various things, but he displayed a lot of wit through his humor. He was more intoxicating than any drug that she had ever tried in her past. With every message that he sent, she would jump in her computer chair, dramatically throw her arms in the air, and smile the kind of smile that one rarely sees. It was more than just a mere infatuation due to the nature of its substance. Although she had never meant him, he was always number one in her heart.
The past decade of loving Jay Fiore had been some of the worst years of her life. Horrible things had happened to her. She was emotionally dealing with being raped within the past five years. She was a svelte size four when the event occurred. She didn't recall all of the events of the evening, but she did remember waking from her black-out and screaming, "You can't do this and get away with it," before passing out again. The next day, she wiped the blood from her groin. This event contributed to the problems with her current sex life.
Her current sex life with her fiancé felt like a juxtaposition of the movies "Vanilla Sky" and "Eraserhead". It was simply atypical and confusing. She knew that she was partially to blame, but everything about their love-making felt awkward. Their fore-play was awkward. The way she would silently lay there as her fiancé rubbed lotion all over her before rimming her ass was awkward. Their lack of passion during sex was awkward. The way they'd never communicate while they were having sex was awkward. His circular thrusts back and forth inside of her felt awkward. It was quite possibly, some of the most awkward sex that she had ever had.
Now, as she stood in her red lace lingerie while looking in the mirror, she felt uncomfortable. Her fiancé was waiting for her in the bed and she wasn't in the mood. She had looked at Jay's Facebook page earlier, which wasn't helping her situation. She dreaded getting into bed. Their sex seemed so scheduled every night and already so familiar. She was already tired of sex with him. She wanted passionate and uninhibited sex! She craved the kind of night that was so mentally and physically stimulating that she and her lover couldn't wait to get into the bedroom. She wanted someone who would be so turned on that he'd bend her over as soon as they'd walk in the door, pull her hair, and passionately thrust inside her. Instead, with her fiancé, it was kind of like, "Um, honey. I have to get up early. Let's get it over with." She was only two months into their relationship, and already she felt as though she had been married for fifty years.
As she reflected, she thought to herself, "I seriously need a drink right now." This is her fucking fiancé and he's madly in love with her, she told herself. Wasn't his love enough for her? Couldn't he make her happy? She caved in and moved towards the bed.
"Oh, the red lace tonight. I like it," he said. She pulled the tight lingerie down as though it were too short.
She answered, "I thought you'd like it," with a little smile.
As soon as they started kissing, her fiancé grabbed ahold of her tightly and lustfully said, "I want you on top with this thing on." She didn't want to be on top of him, she thought to herself. She wanted to just lay there, close her eyes, and have it hurried up and done with. Man, she really did need a drink, she admitted to herself. So, she replied, "I'll be right back," and made a run for the liquor cabinet.
"Give him what he wants. He wants your inner whore," she told herself as she grabbed the whiskey bottle and took several chugs.
"He wants you on top with your tits flying everywhere and he wants to be ridden frantically while you're wearing that lingerie," she continued on. With that inner monologue, she took another chug.
"He needs me to be a wild drunk girl, and I'm afraid that if I'm sober, I can't give him that. I'm so submissive with him."
So, she took one last chug for good measure and went back to the dimly-lit bedroom.
The liquid courage of the whiskey took control of her mouth and her body.
"Is this what you want," she asked, as though she were performing the role of a whore. She let him take a look at her before she straddled him.
"I think I know what you need," she said seductively. At first, she grinded slowly as she licked the whiskey off her mouth.
"Like this," she teased.
He gave her a smile, "You know what I like," he said.
He likes my inner whore, dammit, they all do, she neurotically thought to herself.
"I know what you like, babe," she whispered as she started grinding against him.
He responded, "You're so hot."
Oh, how she hated being told that she was so hot, she told herself! She tried looking at his muscular arms and muscular abs to get turned on, but she couldn't. She continued grinding him with closed eyes before she spit on her hand and lathered his cock and put him inside of her. At first, she started riding the rhythmic waves of their two bodies slowly, but with every moan of his, she began to move faster and faster. "Was it too fast?" she questioned herself. "Did her tits look alright," she wondered as she was practically flying over his cock with full force. She wanted another chug to kill her insecurities, but she was in this groove and from the deep guttural moans of her fiancé, she knew that he was enjoying it.
She frantically rode him. She was beginning to get a little turned on and she felt like surprising him. After all, she had never whipped out this trick on him before. While he was still inside of her, she mounted him in a crab-like position and began thrusting really hard against his body. Their bodies made heavy slapping noises against one another. Within just a few minutes, he climaxed.
She laid beside him as he basked in the glory of his orgasm while she began to ruminate. What was she going to do? Her fiancé preferred her sober, but she was still relying on her drunken alter-ego to please him sexually. She continued neurotically questioning her performance in bed. "They all prefer her drunken inner whore to my sober self," she thought to herself. She continued on this path of reflection. In college, when the alcohol was abundant, she once had a lover tell one of their common friends, "Fellas, if ten meant the biggest sexual tornado to ever cross my room, last night was about an eleven." The friend told her, "After that, I always wanted to have sex with you." She remembered hearing that and feeling proud of it then, but what hope did it give her now?
When she was drunk in the past, she had no problem putting on cow-girl boots and riding a boyfriend frantically in backwards cow-girl position, but nowadays—she usually laid on her back moving along with her fiance's thrusts. Was it the rape, was it her mentally rejecting him, or was it both, she began to contemplate. She felt as though she were frigid with her fiancé, like she couldn't be herself. She wondered how he could think this was good sex and want to marry her only after a few months of dating.
At times she'd imagine the hands of Jay Fiore caressing her during sex. In her mind, it was quite clear who she truly loved. Sometimes, while she and her fiancé were being intimate, she'd wish for Jay. Why couldn't it be Jay, she'd occasionally think to herself. Why couldn't it be Jay's dick inside of her? If it were, she'd truly be making love, she told herself. Instead, while with her fiancé, whenever he would leave his eyes open and stare at her while he was on top of her, it was too much for her. She'd glance at him and hurriedly close her eyes.
What was she going to do? She continued on her introspection as she heard her fiancé snoring. Now that she was older, less promiscuous, and wanting to settle down with someone who loved her, how could she encapsulate her inner whore without alcohol? She couldn't. For one, she wasn't comfortable with her body. For two, she wasn't even that comfortable with him. What was she supposed to do? Run to the liquor cabinet and take chugs of whiskey to calm her nerves every time they had sex? Wouldn't he eventually catch on and smell the alcohol on her breath? How could she portray a confident and extraordinarily sexual being without the help of alcohol? She couldn't even begin to fathom. Alcohol had been her strongest catalyst to wild and uninhibited sex in the past. Not only did it erase her nerves whenever she really liked a man and was being intimate with him, but it gave her the confidence to exude the appearance of a wild and rapacious lover. Now that she was settling down and getting married to a man who wanted her sober, how was she going to keep him content sexually?
The next day, she sat on the back porch smoking a cigar while trying to write some poetry. She sat idly looking at the lines on the page in a blur. What was she doing, she neurotically thought to herself. Why couldn't she get over Jay Fiore, a guy that she's never even met?! Why did she love him so much? Was it because of the way he made her feel about herself? He made her feel beautiful for simply being herself with him and he offered acceptance of who she was. Ten years before, he had sent her a friend request based upon the fact that he found her attractive! They were perfect strangers when they first started talking! Oh, why? Why couldn't she get over him? They had hardly conversed in months. Why wouldn't he message her like he used to? While she was with the first man that she broke up with for him, he always gave her attention. He sent her a hilarious video of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up." He had told her that she was his real-life Pam Beasley, a character from "The Office" that was with another man! She had wanted only him once he told her that! He had come on to her and he had offered so much of his attention. During that time, she was the happiest that she had ever been! She could have her live-in boyfriend and her internet boyfriend, she'd think to herself then. Nowadays, Jay was leaving her alone with this relationship, but her thoughts still kept tracing back to him! Oh, why did he have to like her Facebook status that said, "Boyfriend took me to look at rings today." Why did he have to like it? OH, how she wanted to be looking at rings with HIM.
She threw her book down in frustration and began walking towards the liquor cabinet in the kitchen. She couldn't drink right now, she thought to herself. Her fiancé would be so upset if he came home from work and she was drunk. She thumbed her fingers across the granite counter-top. What was she going to do, she continued to wonder. How could she embrace all of these emotions that she was dealing with? She needed to talk to someone. She knew that she couldn't calm her nerves with alcohol, so she decided to call her best friend. Perhaps, she could appease her. She reached for her cell,
"Girl, I need you so friggin much right now," she admitted.
"You sound terrible. What's wrong?"
"I don't think I love my fiancé."
"Holy shit. Okay, what happened?"
She began blubbering in a hurried voice, "I don't know. I just can't be myself around my fiancé, especially sexually. I'm battling with my drunk girl and my sober girl and they're not coinciding right now." She paused before she continued, "I'm feeling like I'm losing my sense of self in my sobriety."
"So you feel like there are two parts of you?
"I feel like a part of me has to be drunk to have sex with my fiancé."
"Why? Aren't you attracted to him?
"Not when he wears those black framed glasses! Those glasses are like birth control."
"Is this really about the glasses?"
"No, it's not. I fucking want Jay Fiore!"
"Fuck, girl. Not this guy again. You never even met him!"
"I know. I'm so fucked up."
"Sweetheart, you're not fucked up. You're just not over him. It's hard to get over a fantasy."
"He's not a fantasy man! I know he exists. I just never met him!"
"Would you prefer him over your fiance?"
"I don't know! I just feel like I'm always pretending with my fiancé. I'm pretending to be the perfect Stepford wife who is a culinary master and a vivacious fuck."
"I know you feel like you have to play certain roles with everyone in your life, but you shouldn't have to do that with the man you want to marry."
"I just don't feel like I'd pretend with Jay Fiore."
"Well, he's the standard to that you use to judge every man, so it makes sense that you feel that way."
"I know. I'm still so in love with him. I swear, the guy's a fucking legend. No one ever made me fall so hard."
"So, what are you going to do?"
"I guess I'll just move home to my Dad's and just feel like I'm pretending there, too."
"Girl, why do you feel like you have to pretend at home? That's rough!"
"I feel like I have to pretend to be the perfect pastor's daughter and go to church every week."
"I got an idea."
"Since he got to the heart of your hearts, and you feel like you wouldn't have to pretend with him, what if you go home and live as though you're the wife of Jay Fiore? Pretend to be engaged to him. What would the wife of Jay Fiore be like?"
"That's what I did the last time and look what happened! I took phentermine to lose weight to become a size zero and the paranoia that the diet pills caused led me to the friggin psych ward!"
"That's never stemmed from him. That stemmed from your childhood and being told that you were fat during your formative years. All of your doubts that lead you to pretend are caused by your need for acceptance. You were always yourself with him and he seemed to like you for it."
"This is true."
"He's is one of your biggest motivators in life. How about turning this into something positive"
"Do you really think this is a good idea?
"You've been talking a lot about going back to school and getting your Ph.D."
"That's because I don't like feeling financially dependent upon my fiancé! I feel as though I'm being forced into Stepford wife status!"
"This is your chance to do something extraordinary with your life."
"Is it? Or will I literally drive myself crazy again?"
"This time's different, sweetheart. You're not the same person as you were then. It's time for you to kick a little ass."
This is what she needs to do, she thought to herself. She therapeutically caressed her hair to console herself. Was she ready to break-up with yet another man that wanted to marry her for Jay Fiore? Yes. Yes, she was! How was she going to do that yet again? Breaking up with the first boyfriend that she was living with was hard enough. How was she going to deal with this break-up, too? Man, she needed a drink, she continued thinking to herself. She caressed her hair yet again. A drink, she thought to herself. She needed a drink. She paused for a moment. YES. DRINKING. That's how she was going to end things with her fiancé! She'd just get drunk every night until she pushed him away. Her fiancé hated it whenever she'd drink!
Every day for several days, she was drunk every night that he'd come home from work. Finally, on a Saturday morning, after he smelled alcohol on her breath, he had had enough. He stayed the night at a hotel, canceled the engagement, and she packed her things. She remorsefully packed the thousands of dollars that she had spent on nesting for the house. How wonderful it would have been, she reflected, to have that money for her future.
Throughout the time that she was with her fiancé, she had posted many things on her Facebook of her and her fiancé to try and make Jay Fiore jealous. Now that she had chosen Jay, she felt the need to give her and her friends on Facebook some closure to her engagement. So, she posted the song by Sheryl Crow, "The First Cut is the Deepest," along with the explanation that her fiancé and were her breaking up. She knew that Jay Fiore would see it. She hoped that she was conveying to him that their relationship hadn't worked due to the feelings that she still had for him. After all, the lines of the song consisted of "I would have given you all of my heart, but there's someone that's torn it apart….If you wanna try to love again…." She desperately wanted to message him to tell him the truth, but she was afraid that if she messaged him, "Once again, I've chosen you," that she would scare him. So, she rationalized her passive-aggressive behavior with the lyrics of a song. It wasn’t the first time that she had conveyed her feelings through the lyrics of music. Throughout the past decade, they had both conveyed their feelings through music.
When she got back to her Dad's house, wondering what the wife of Jay Fiore would be like was at the forefront of her mind. She often ruminated what attributes Mrs. Jay Fiore would possess.Well, she'd be beautiful. She was beautiful, she neurotically thought to herself. She'd be absolutely brilliant. Okay, she thought to herself, she needed to make her brain a sponge that soaked up a bunch of Harvard grad mumbo jumbo. She'd be comical. Well, she was comical, she thought to herself. She'd smoke pot. Well, occasionally she liked to spark up a fat doobie. She'd do volunteer work. Well, she did volunteer work, she told herself. Most of all, she'd have a successful career and money of her own to fall back on. So, she decided that would be one of her main concerns. She would build some kind of foundation for herself so that she would have more to offer other than her penniless Coach wallet.
She started vigilantly studying the GRE vocabulary list and engrossing herself into all types of literature. She started taking online creative writing to work on her writing craft. The more she reflected upon the love that she felt for Jay Fiore, the more that she felt the need to write the story of the past decade. She truly believed that if he were to read the pages of her devotion towards him throughout all of those tumultuous years, then he would know how much she loved him, and choose her.
In those weeks and months of working on herself, she missed him desperately. She was afraid to come on too strong as she had before. She was afraid to tell him that she was still so in love with him. She knew that she had made several mistakes in the course of the past decade. She had so many things to say to him, but she didn't know where to begin.
One night, as she laid in bed, she searched the internet for remnants of him. She wanted concrete evidence that this man was somehow a lie or a figment of her imagination. In doing a search for him, she found that he had written for an entertainment company sometime after college. This excited her. How perfect it would for her to write her side, for him to write his side, and for them to write their happy ending together.
The next day, she confessed that she had searched for him on the internet to her best friend.
"I want to send him a letter. I need a sense of connection with him right now and Facebook isn't enough for me anymore."
"What are you going to say to him?"
"I'm going to apologize to him and indirectly let him know that I still love him. She paused before she continued, "I don't want to say anything that will scare him."
"Well, this could be a good step for you. You either need closure or you need encouragement."
"I don't know if I'll ever be able to put closure and Jay Fiore in the same sentence, but I need to do something else other than just pretending."
At this point, she needed to know whether she should move on and try and pursue him. So, she wrote him a letter and apologized for her bad behavior in the past decade. She also included a cd that she had made for him. She titled it, "The I'm Sorry I Was Bat-Shit Crazy" mix. She was careful not to put too many love songs in the cd because she didn't want to come on too strong and this was difficult for her. Instead, she made a cd filled with a lot of electronic songs without lyrics. She wanted to give him some kind of assurance that she was still in love with him, so she ended the cd with Moby's "In My Heart." At the end of the letter, she quoted Khalil Gibran, "Between what is said but not meant, and what is meant but not said, most of love is lost."
She sent it priority mail and was told that it would arrive on a Thursday. To calm her nerves during the course of the few days, she smoked a little pot with her best friend.
Her best friend reassured her, "You're going to be just fine."
"Why do you say that?"
"Cuz you're YOU. Jay Fiore doesn't even deserve you. You're altogether such an extraordinarily wonderful person."
"You don't think that he deserves me, but I feel like I deserve him."
"A woman in love is so impossible to rationalize with," her best friend said.
"Especially when it comes to him," she confessed.
On the Friday after he received the package, she was a little high and relaxing on the couch when suddenly, a five digit number called her that said it was from the United States. “That's a weird-ass number," she thought to herself as she looked at the phone dumbfounded. Wait a minute, she thought to herself as the phone stopped ringing. What if that was him? He had to have been him. Never in her life has a number like that called her before! He would have received the package yesterday, she told herself. She jumped up from the couch and began mimicking the years that she’d throw her arms up in the air at every message that he’d send her. Her heart started racing and her hands were shaking. She couldn't talk to him, she thought to herself. If she had answered the phone, there was no way that she could have kept her cool. She would have behaved like a girl with a celebrity crush. After all of these years, he still had that effect on her.
So, she waited for that number to call again. She confided in her best friend,
"What if he doesn't call again?"
"Well, it probably took a little guts on his part to call. It may take some time for him to call back. Or he may change his mind and not call again."
That would probably be for the best right now, she reflected. She would have been too nervous on the phone. She needed time. She needed time to work on her writing, get accepted into Rutgers to get her MFA, and write the beginning of their love story.
The days passed and the number did not re-appear on her phone. She found that she was greeted with mixed feelings of nervousness, happiness, and apprehension.
Not until the following weekend did she feel as though she received a sign from the Universe. One Sunday morning, she logged onto her iTunes. She looked at her computer with crinkled eyes. Wait a minute, she thought to herself, she hadn't given the song, "Magic" by Coldplay its own playlist. She clicked on the playlist. There was only that particular song featured on the playlist. She didn't do that! That was a song that she had recently put on her Facebook profile! That was a song that she felt like she was playing for him! The lyrics consisted of, "And I can't get over, can't get over you…If you were to ask me, after everything we've been through, still believe in magic, yes I do." Was that how he felt about her? Did he put that on her computer as a reaction to her letter and her cd? Oh, it had to be him! And that had to have been him that called! She was suddenly brought back to all those years before whenever they would send love songs back and forth to each other. He once had played a plethora of love songs on her iPod while it had been locked! Oh, maybe he still loved her! Maybe there was still hope!
She carried that hope and encouragement with her throughout the following days. That was all the communication that they needed for right now, she told herself. Any other kind of communication may send her flying to the cuckoo’s nest once again. She needed more time to work on herself, she told herself. It wasn’t the right time.
Throughout her journey of self-discovery, she had gone through many phases with Jay Fiore. Now, he was like a valve within her pumping survival and strength throughout her veins. His being was a strong catalyst for her being. His survival was imperative for her survival. The poem that most conveyed her feelings for him was EE Cummings’ “I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart.”
Her puzzle may still have encompassed broken pieces of her wounded past, but she found that there were still many ethereal pieces left. Throughout all of this time, perhaps she was missing the most intricate piece of all. The omnipotent loving piece of his that would adhere to the broken edges and smooth her idiosyncrasies. Although she truly believed that he was the missing piece to her totality, she knew that nothing was etched in stone. She was aware that other pieces would come along that would try and forcefully fit into her puzzle, but that it was her duty to allow them to be malleable or not.
Although she knew that she couldn’t hold him or make love to him, she found layers of their love embedded throughout every song, poem, or piece of literature that they had shared. There was magic in Moby’s “In My Heart”. There was magic in the lyrics of Sheryl Crow’s “The First Cut is the Deepest.” There was magic in the quote of Khalil Gibran. There was magic in Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” All of that being said, perhaps the most magical thing of all was that their love had survived.