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Every few nights I crept down to the den, switched on the panel full of dials and lights, and found my girl again.

The frequency was secret, prearranged. The pitch grew lower as our voices changed.

She sang:

Blad, Blad, don’t be sad, We’ll meet again before you know it. Blad, Blad, don’t go mad, Although you say you are a poet. Blad, Blad, don’t be bad, If there’s a line, make sure to toe it.

—It’s an expression, yes? “To toe the line”? It sounds so odd. I said it sounded fine, or even beautiful, the way she said it. Toh. Toh. I promised her I’d mind my mother, bring up my grades, and generally bring credit back to my name, so we could see each other. (Her father had made threats about forbidding contact between us, and he wasn’t kidding.)

We’d sync our schedules via Swiss Chronometer and eavesdrop on a planet at the tip of the fourth arm of Andromeda, straining to hear each crackle, hiss, and blip— each local anomaly: a passing comet or wayward ship, a pulsar’s heartbeat-skip…

She’d take down notes, decode it all by dawn, and, once she’d shared the juiciest gossip, yawn.

Blad, Blad, Blad. Stay sweet. Do not be bad with anyone but me. —Bisou bisou. Bonne nuit.

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