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Bit by Bit

There was once a girl who’d text a boy: I caught a dream on my way home last night. 

And the boy would text the girl: I can’t wait to see it.

The girl would see an orange butterfly with clusters of green and gold. She’d text the boy her recollection, translated carefully into pixels. 

And the boy would text the girl: She’s beautiful like you. 

The girl would read the text and think, “He’s thinking of me, too.”

At each beautiful moment, the girl texted the boy to share.

And though the boy lived far away, he texted her right back every time. He seemed to wait by the phone for her.

Come home soon. What’s for dinner? I can’t wait to see you again.

That’s what the girl saw in her mind.

Until one day, the girl texted the boy and he never texted back.

What the girl didn’t know was that whenever she texted the boy, she’d sent him a bit of her memory. She didn’t know memories were the bits that made up a soul, made up her soul. She didn’t know that bit by bit, byte by byte, the snippets of her soul that witnessed beauty were sent forever to the boy. So, she kept texting and texting even though the boy never returned any of his soul. Through the cellular network’s waves, her very particles evaporated into air. 

The girl texted until there was nothing left of her but a rose bush in front of her home.

One day, the boy came to see the girl, but could not see the girl was home. All he could see were luscious roses glistening in the yard. The boy was overwhelmed by the rose’s luster, the scent that filled his hair. He came back day after day to care for the rose bush, to care for the growing beauty. The roses thrived under the boy’s care, her blossoms were bountiful, petals sleek.

The boy grew and became a man. He left the rose bush and the town behind. The rose bush grew too even though he was away.

The man fell in love with a woman. He brought her home to show her his rose bush, his pride and joy, the thing he watered and pruned and protected. The woman fell in love with this man who loved his rose bush and showered love on the thorny plant. 

The rose bush, left without memory, could not love. But she seemed to respond to what she felt coming from the man and woman by sending out her fragrance.

On their wedding day, the man crowned the woman with his roses. He loved seeing them in her hair. The rose, shriveled, still waited for his words, the words she’d hoped to hear one day.

Till death do us part, he’d say: I do.

Minyoung Lee writes fiction and essays in Oakland, CA. Her work appears in Monkeybicycle, JMWW, trampset, and others. Minyoung is an alum of the Tin House Summer Workshop and VONA Summer Workshop. Her prose chapbook CLAIM YOUR SPACE was published by Fear No Lit Press in March 2020. Her website is

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