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“Be strong.”

It was more of a command than a request, but I knew his intent. He acted like my father sometimes, or like an elder sibling, but he was a year my junior. As he cautioned me tersely, his bright eyes sparkled, and the corner of his mouth cocked like it was built on a hill, by a one-legged queer. This was his sleeper, used to disarm and disable, and it lulled me like a nursery rhyme.

I thought of the previous month, when, for several days, I didn’t know where he had gone or he was doing. It was like I’d fallen through thin ice and gasped for breath until he returned. He was my salvation–my steaming hot cup of chocolate.

“Be strong,” he repeated, blanketing me with his body.

I was a duckling without him, I was Waldo, and I didn’t know where to find myself.

He lifted my hand and asked me once, “do you know who you are”

I lost myself for a moment in his gaze and said, “I’m yours.”

He seemed disappointed at the answer because his eyes dulled ephemerally, but they sparked to life before it even registered in my head. I smiled back. I knew what he meant when he told me to be strong. He was saying that I shouldn’t rely on him so much, and I agreed.

“Be strong,” he said once again, and his voice quivered as he held my head to his shoulder.

“I’m sorry, love,” I whispered into his ear, “I want to be a stronger person–I want to make you happy.”

He jerked away from me, holding onto my shoulders. Tear trails ran from his soft eyes. “No…you’re perfect. It’s me. I’m all wrong. I’m all screwed up. It’s me who’s weak. It’s just so hard to…be strong.”

This is very rough and still needs at least twenty more revisions. So, any comments What does it mean to you, if anything