The gym closes at six now that it’s summer, so I take the long way back to my dorm to make up for the missed cardio. I follow the uneven path around the football field, then double back when faced with a steep staircase, preferring the slow burn rise of the nearby road. The air is thick with that strange stillness that has settled in the days since graduation. There is no acquaintance to fall into step with as I turn onto the main road, a foreign feeling on a campus where any journey, no matter the time of day or the obscurity of the path, is bound to be shared at some point. 

Near the top of the road, red and pink bush mallow flowers grow up the slope of the hill, hazy in the summer evening heat. I reach for my phone, my first impulse to share my discovery. The pictures are lackluster, though, the pixels failing to recreate the tightening of my chest that has nothing to do with exertion and everything to do with the feeling that these flowers have grown here just for me. I tuck my phone back into my pocket, and let the unfiltered beauty of the hill overwhelm me. 

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