Just a Breath Away

By Colleen

 

This is an alternate uber story. The physical descriptions of the two lead characters may remind you of two others we all know and love, but all characters in the story are from my own imagination. This story is an original work and is copyrighted by the author. It cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copyright July 2009-2010

This story depicts a loving relationship between two consenting, adult women and contains scenes of intimacy, but nothing too explicit. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something else.

Feedback will be welcomed at coleen30@webtv.net

I have also created a group for discussions of this, past and future stories. Join us at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/colleens_corner

 

 

 

Chapter 12

 

It was only nine o'clock in the morning on this Saturday, the fourth of July, and Carson was already busy at the stove. Breakfast was long over, but she had four huge pots cooking. It also happened to be the day of her family's tenth annual family reunion. More than twenty five Galloways, most by birth, but some by marriage would be gathering at the city's biggest and most picturesque park. Also in attendance would be a close friend or two. And the most important person in that small group would be Drew Dixon. At least to Carson and Logan Galloway.

Carson heard Drew coming from the bathroom. “Drew, can you come here for a minute?” she asked.

Drew had on her robe, but nothing underneath since she had just emerged from a shower. “What can I do for you Ms. G?”

Carson turned with a spoon in her hand. Her robed friend was standing about two feet away, her skin still rosy from the hot water and her shiny hair even darker with dampness. Carson's body reacted without benefit of her mind's permission. The spoon in her hand dipped and the reddish mixture dropped to the floor with a messy splat. “Oh, I'm…s…sorry,” she stuttered. “I thought you were…”

Drew sort of enjoyed her friend's flustered reaction. Although there wasn't any attempt on her part at seduction. Even if she hadn't promised that to Carson, it just wasn't her style. Unless, of course, it was playfully executed by two people in love. “No problem,” Drew said, grabbing a paper towel from the roll on the counter. “Let me get that.” She ducked to wipe the spill from the floor and then deposited it in the trash. “Now then,” she said as she returned to the cook's side. “What can I help you with?”

Carson had control by now, giggling internally at her silly self. She went on as if nothing had happened and dipped another spoonful. “I want you to try this chili,” she said. Drew let the spoon slip into her mouth. Tasting the mild version, she complimented on its flavor and meaty texture. Grabbing a new spoon, Carson scooped out another sample. “Now, try this one. My brother's love their chili hot and spicy. They would never forgive me if I only brought one kind.”

Drew was licking her lips after the second taste. “That is the best chili I have ever tasted,” she stated emphatically. “And it is just spicy enough. Anymore would mask the taste and the experience. Did I ever tell you that you are a fantastic cook?”

Carson felt her cheeks warm up. But then she was standing over a sizzling stove. “Thanks hot stuff,” she said. “Could you do me another favor…after you get dressed of course?”

Drew grinned. “Anything.”

“Give Logan a bath and get him dressed.”

“I will do that. What do you want him to wear?” Drew asked as she grabbed a glass of milk to wash down the tasty food.

“Shorts and a t-shirt, but you can decide which ones.”

* * *

After his bath, Drew carried the baby into his room and placed him in his crib until she gathered together his clothes and hair brush. “We're going to have some fun today little man,” she said as she started the task of wrestling him into his diaper and clothes. Logan was a wiggler, never wanting to be still for long. She gave him a toy to hold his attention…at least for a minute or two. “You're going to be seeing a lot of your family,” she told him, “some for the first time I bet. But they're all going to love playing with you. Just reserve a little time for me too.” She kissed his cheek, taking in his clean scent. Drew was very excited about the day ahead. She really liked Carson's family and was honored by the invitation. She expected some fun times. But most of all she just loved spending time with Carson and Logan. “Maybe we can feed the ducks at the pond,” she suggested. Logan's head popped through the opening of his blue shirt and he grinned, showing off his pretty teeth. “Would you like that huh? Oh, and tonight you'll get to see your first fireworks…if you're still awake by then.” Logan squealed his delight.

“How's it going?” Carson asked as she stepped through the door.

Drew was brushing Logan's growing hair. “Little mister GQ is all ready.” She picked him up for his mother's inspection. The baby wore tiny tan shorts, which had ocean waves rolling across the right leg, and a light blue shirt with a sailboat on the chest. Coincidentally, Drew also wore tan shorts, but without the aquatic decoration. Her lightweight polo shirt was darker blue and sans the boat, but still they made a cute, matching pair. So cute in fact that Carson had to run for her camera.

* * *

 

When they arrived at the park, the sun was shining brightly on the crowds of celebrating people. Carson was greeted with hugs from everyone in attendance at the reunion. She happily introduced Drew to those who hadn't had the previous privilege. Being the only baby, Logan soon became the most popular person and began making the rounds among the family members.

At game time, Carson and Drew teamed up for an old fashioned sack race. Despite their difference in height, they had good synchronization and came in third. Donning plastic covers and shower caps the duo triumphed in the egg toss. They did, however, pass on the tug of war over the dirt pile, leaving the grubby stuff to the kids and the guys.

Dozens of candid pictures were snapped. Eating, playing, relaxing, it was all captured for posterity. Del also divided each family group for the year's official reunion portraits. Of course, she asked that Drew join Carson and Logan for a photo. As much as she wanted a picture of the three of them together, Drew tried to decline, citing it was for family. Carson leaned next to the doctor's ear. “Please Drew; you are family.”

The doctor wasted no more time. She slipped onto the bench as close to Carson as she could get. Carson let Logan share their laps and she wrapped her free arm around Drew's waist. Drew followed the gesture and took the baby's hand in hers. Triple smiles made it picture perfect.

One final group shot was taken before everyone went off to do their own thing.

* * *

Over the next few hours, Carson and Drew shared some chocolate cake, they walked to the other side of the park to catch a patriotic presentation by a children's choir and they played Yhatzee. Carson was packing the game away as Drew looked over to the playground. “Do you mind if I go get Logan?” she asked sheepishly. She really missed the tot. He had been visiting with other family members, mostly grandma, for almost three hours.

Carson smiled. She loved the way Drew treated her son. “Sure, go ahead.”

Just a few minutes later, the laughing doctor came back with an equally happy boy. She had a seat at the picnic table and passed him over to his mother. “There's my baby,” Carson said, hugging him tightly. “I bet you could use a diaper change. We'll be right back,” she told Drew.

While they were gone, Carson's father asked Drew about her house. “That three day rain last week slowed things down,” she explained. “But it should be finished in about a week.” There was an odd melancholy in her voice. She didn't want to move back to her house. She was happy where she was, even in the guestroom. Drew felt as if she had that family she'd always wanted…even if Carson was still resisting that final step. But that was an important step, saying those three words. And they couldn't be a complete family without it.

When Carson and the baby returned, they all had a mid afternoon snack of fruit and cheese. Logan's sleepy eyes drooped as he sipped the juice from his special cup. He slept in his mother's arms for just over an hour.

After Logan's brief nap, mommy and Drew took him for a short and very slow stroll. He was just taking his first steps, but he still needed the aid of a hand hold. Grasping an index finger in each hand he stomped, unsteadily across the ground between his two most favorite people.

Del, Dana and Brett's wife Lily were huddled together in a game of cards. But they were momentarily distracted when the trio had stepped away from the table. “They really are a perfect family,” Lily said. She didn't know Drew as well as her sister and mother in law, but the evidence was clear to her eyes.

Del smiled. “Yes, they are. But please don't say anything like that to Carson. She still has some issues. And we don't want to push anything. But a little prayer to help Carson find her way wouldn't hurt.”

Drew headed them toward the pond so she could fulfill her earlier promise to Logan. Once he spotted the floating birds, he let out with a string of baby babble. In his excitement, he let go and took only two steps before tumbling to the ground. He took the fall well, still too interested in the ducks to realize what happened. “Whoa buddy,” Drew said, scooping him up. Carson did the mother thing, cleaning off his hands and knees, checking for scrapes, and adding kisses to his little hands. The unscathed baby pointed toward the busy pond and grunted. “Okay,” Drew said, “we get the point”. As she walked closer to the still waters, Carson was tempted to tell Drew to be careful. But she held back because she knew that Drew loved him as much as she did, and that the doctor would protect him with her life. Carson watched happily, letting Drew have the fun of introducing him to this new experience. The tall woman squatted and set the energized baby between her legs. She kept a tight hold around his belly as she retrieved a bag from the pocket of her shorts. Pulling out a small piece of bread, Drew demonstrated by tossing it down to the waters edge. A rather colorful mallard honked loudly and quickly waddled over, helping himself to the treat. “Um, um, um. Eeeee.” Logan blaringly made his exuberance known.

Drew took another piece from the bag and put the crumb in the baby's hand. “Now it's your turn Logan. Throw it down.” He did, and another, more fearless, duck wobbled over and tossed it back in a gulp. After its hasty retreat, Drew took Logan's hands and clapped them together excitedly. “Wow, buddy! What do you think of that? You fed a duck.”

Logan was not satisfied with just one; he squealed for more. And Drew obliged until the small bag was empty. “All gone little man. Say goodbye to the ducks and let's go see mommy.” His tiny hand gave a baby sized wave all the while Drew carried him back to the bench where Carson waited. Taking Logan into her arms, he pointed at the water and said, “Mum, mum, mum.”

“That's me. Was that fun Sweetie?” she asked, kissing his cheek. “Judging by your reaction, I'd say yes.” Carson turned to Drew. “Thank you.”

Drew laughed. “I had just as much fun as he did.”

“I know.”

Logan was sill captivated by the flying, quacking birds, but he was content to watch them from his mother's lap. Carson and Drew took the time to quietly enjoy the weather and the sights around them. With no ulterior motive in mind, Drew's arm eventually encircled her friend's shoulder. In response, Carson's hand softly fell upon Drew's bare knee.

It was all beautiful.

* * *

 

It was closing in on six in the evening. The reunion had quieted down some, as most of the family had gone horseback riding. As much as Drew loved doing that, she had stayed behind to be with Carson, who had declined because of a slight headache. At the moment, Drew sat on the picnic bench with her back to the table. She was facing west and the sun was on its trek, slipping toward the horizon, but still had a few hours of shine left. But the brightest spot in the observant blue eyes was a particular sun kissed blonde. Carson was standing on a small bridge, talking to her sister-in-law Dana. Carson looked to be feeling better after taking something for the pain. She was laughing through their conversation, making Drew curious as to the topic. Behind her, Drew heard Del reading a story to Logan. Everyone seemed content for the moment. Drew continued to watch her blonde friend, but was actually lost in her own thoughts. The subject though, was one in the same. Drew loved Carson. She figured she would always love Carson. And she realized that was okay, even if Carson never fully returned those feelings. Loving, made Drew even happier than being loved. And Drew was very happy.

From the corner of her eye, Drew saw a group of teenage boys on bicycles and skateboards, riding down the path. They were loud and obnoxious, making rude comments about most of the females within their sight. They picked up speed as they neared the bridge and one individual started showing off. A boarder was hanging on to the back of a bicycle and they were moving at top speed. The seated rider raised both hands in the air, laughing at his stunt. But the boy's attention was suddenly distracted by a scantily clad young woman. The two wheeler wobbled as he lost control. Drew foresaw the eminent collision as the bicycle closed in on an unaware Carson. The passenger tumbled to the ground and his board went airborne. On her feet and sprinting to the scene, Drew watched in horror as Carson was hit in the head by the flying projectile. Carson then pitched back, toppling over the low wall and falling into the pond below. Drew bound over the barrier and followed her friend into the water three seconds later. Finding her almost instantly, Drew swam to the shore, pulling Carson onto the grassy bank. Del hadn't seen the accident, but was alerted right after. With Logan in tow, she raced to her daughter's side, arriving to find the doctor performing CPR. Del gasped as she watched Carson's blonde hair turning red as blood poured from a wound on her forehead. Someone had already called 911 as Drew called for a blanket to keep Carson warm and a towel to wrap around her head. Almost instantly, the items were thrust into Dana's hands and she rushed to Carson's side, covering her sister. Being a former ER nurse, Dana knew how to handle the injured woman.

Del could only watch helplessly…and cry. Even though he would never remember, she kept Logan's gaze away from where his mother lay on the ground. But he began to cry, sensing the tension and bustle surrounding him. Curiosity, being in the human nature, a crowd of onlookers gathered quickly, whispering and mumbling as spectators do.

* * *

Carson found herself in the dark. Total darkness. Pitch black. Suddenly there was a point of light a few yards away. “I'm dead,” she whispered.

“Not yet.”

Carson heard her own voice, but knew she didn't say that. She furiously looked through the blackness to find the source of the optimistic words.

“I'm here.”

Carson turned around to find herself looking into a full length mirror. “What's happening?” she asked timidly.

Her reflection smiled. “It's time.”

“For what?” Carson asked, her voice quaking nervously.

“It's time for you to believe in Drew's love. It's time for you to trust her not to hurt you.” Carson's eyes slipped shut. “Stop turning away from yourself!” the reflection demanded. Carson looked back. She started to speak, but was stopped. “You don't have to tell me all the reasons why you can't,” her reflection said. “I know. But I also know what you won't let yourself consciously feel. You are equals. You have balance.” Still seeing a bit of uncertainty in her own eyes, the reflection decided to take action. “Do something for me,” she said. “Close your eyes and think about everything you know about Drew. Think about the thing's she's told you…about the things you've seen her do and let it completely fill your heart.” Carson followed the command and remembered, not just the words, but the sight of Drew's expressive eyes and the emotions she saw there…the joy, the sorrow, the conviction, the devotion, the truth…the love.

The night of Logan's asthma attack. “I know you don't like this mask over your face, but it's gonna make you feel better.”

 

“Let me take care of both of you for one night.”

 

One of their many conversations. “ I joined the National Guard.”

 

“I just think maybe I could have helped the injured.”

 

Drew's sadness at a young patient's prognosis. “But it's not fair! We get the best medical training, have access to the finest technology and still we can't save a boy who hasn't had a chance to really live.”

 

“Dr. Kline's son is having his fifth birthday party this afternoon and I'm going to entertain.”

Drew playing with Logan.

 

Drew bowling for charity.

 

Drew planning Carson's birthday surprise .

Drew worrying about them in the storm.

 

The reflection spoke again. “People tell lies for personal gain. Carol was all about helping herself. Drew is all about helping others. She didn't have a second's hesitation to jump into the water and pull you out.”

“She would have done that for anybody,” Carson reasoned faintly.

“Yes, she would. But she wouldn't be terrified about losing them. As calm and professional as she is on the outside right now, she is equally as frantic on the inside to save your life. For you, for Logan, for your family…and for herself. Right now, as she gives you the breath from her own body, that is all that she wants in the world. She loves you…now and forever.”

Carson remembered something else Drew had said once. “Because you were so terrified. You have to love something very strongly to be that worried.” Then Carson remembered how she had felt the day of the tornado, after learning that a tree had crashed into Drew's house and she had faced the possibility of losing her.

The reflection nodded. “You know she already has your heart. It's time to give her your trust. She has earned it. She deserves it. Go toward your light. And believe.”

 

* * *

Drew begged again. “Please Carson, come back!”

Green eyes lethargically opened. She coughed and spit water which was hard since Drew had a tight hold on her neck to guard against any possible spinal injury. The doctor smiled happily, breathing heavily herself. “The ambulance is going to be right here. You are going to be fine.”

The tired, sore and drenched blonde managed a tiny hint of a grin. “I…believe you.”

“Of course; I am a doctor,” Drew teased. But her relief was very short lived as the blonde lost consciousness again. “Carson!” Drew screamed and scrambled to find a pulse and a breath rate as the ambulance rolled into the park, where it was directed by Carson's anxious family toward the lakeside accident site. Drew told the paramedics that she was a doctor and informed them of the patient's current condition. “She regained consciousness momentarily after about 60 seconds of CPR.” Drew watched as the gentlemen did their job efficiently. With Carson's body secured and an IV started, she was quickly loaded into the ambulance. As much as Drew longed to be with the woman she loved, it was because of those very feelings that made it unwise for her to administer any further medical treatment. She did what was needed to save Carson's life in the emergency, but Carson was in the hands of other professionals now. And Drew shifted into worried friend mode. She accepted a towel as she raced across the park toward the car. Carson's family was right along side with the same goal in mind. Stopping beside Carson's car, Drew reached out to take Logan from his grandmother, since the only baby seat was in that vehicle. She kissed the boy's cheek, sensing his anxieties. “Your mommy is going to be sick for a while Sweetie. But we are going to do everything we can to make her better.” Even if he didn't understand her words, the baby settled into her arms, and she clung to him like a lifeline.

Del and her family arrived at the hospital about ten minutes later. Drew pulled in just a few minutes after. Dashing inside the emergency entrance, she kissed Logan once again and handed him back to his grandmother. For the first time since it had happened, an emotional Del Galloway threw her free arm around the tall woman's neck. “Thank you Drew. Take good care of her.”

Drew's eyes were red and puffy; she had done her crying in the car. Now she needed to be strong for the baby, the family and most of all for Carson. “I will Del. I'll be back with news as soon as I can.”

As a professional courtesy to the first responding doctor on the scene, Drew was allowed into the ER to observe as they treated Carson. The sodden clothes were cut away from her bruised body. More needles pierced her ashen skin. More medications were administered and Carson was attached to complex machines, set to monitor her vital signs. Drew's eyes drifted often to the screen and the blip representing the steady beat of Carson's heart…coincidentally corresponding to the beat of her own heart. Drew took a step back as a nurse, cautiously, removed the blood soaked towel, revealing the lurid laceration caused by the skateboards impact. Another doctor then stepped in to evaluate the injury. Well acquainted with emergency rooms, Drew knew that everything was being done according to procedure, but being desperately in love with the patient, she wanted everything done faster, she wanted immediate answers…she wanted them to make Carson well…now. The rational side of Doctor Dixon prevented her from complaining. But it was a struggle. Drew clasped the limp hand whenever the way was clear. She said the words repeatedly in her head. I love you. While the attendings waited for tests and x-ray results, Drew leaned over to whisper in Carson's ear. “I need you. Your son needs you. We want you back. Please don't leave us.” Drew took a chance. “I love you.”

Dr. Jack Irwin, trauma specialist, stepped back into the room and Drew turned to hear the prognosis.

Del, her husband Nathan, sons Duncan and Brett, and eight other family members had formed a prayer circle in the small, private waiting room they had been taken to, thanks to Drew. Nathan had led the short prayer and now cuddled his grandson close to his chest. Nathan Galloway, while always affectionate, was stoic when it came to showing other emotions. He had always kept his temper in check and hadn't cried his entire adult life. His parents were still living and healthy, and no one in his immediate family had been seriously ill or injured…until now. Walking to the window, Nathan held his grandson and thought about his own baby…his baby girl. The tears dripped onto Logan's blonde head as Carson's dad began humming a soft tune. It was the same tune he had sung to his infant daughter many years before.

A few minutes later, Drew quietly walked into the room, her face passive and unreadable. Del ran to her asking, “How is she?” Del knew her daughter was alive or Drew would not have been nearly as calm. But that's all she knew.

“Let's have a seat,” Drew said, hoarseness dulling her voice. “The doctors are taking care of the effects of the drowning. There was no spinal injury. It appears that Carson hit the right side of her lower back on the brick wall before she fell over and it caused some bruising outside and inside, to her kidney. But it should be fine.” She took a deep breath, preparing to deliver the bad news. “The head injury is serious. There's a hairline fracture above her brow, where the board hit her. And a small contusion at the back of her head indicates that she hit something under the water, probably a rock. There is some slight swelling, but no noticeable bleeding in the brain. But the concussion is severe. She still hasn't regained consciousness.” Drew had to glance away from the worried faces wanting positive answers, before she continued with the uncertain diagnosis. “And she might not for some time. There could be some permanent damage. We just won't know for awhile.” The blue eyes looked back to Carson's relatives. “I'm not saying this to scare you; I just believe that you should know the possibilities.”

Del took in all of the tentative information, but as a mother her heart would be drenched in pain and worry until her daughter was healthy and safe at home. “When do you think we'll be able to see her?” she asked shakily.

“She'll be in intensive care, but you and Nathan should be able to visit in a few hours.”

Not being able to do anything for the moment, the family headed out to different parts, some needing to get younger children home and some went for coffee. Nathan excused himself, needing some fresh air. Del had Logan and she didn't want to leave Drew alone.

The dark haired doctor sat back and scrubbed her face in a nervous fashion. “I don't want to burden you dear,” Del said, “and I do have trust in the doctors here, but would you please keep an eye on my baby. See that she gets some of your special care.”

Drew managed to give the concerned mother an optimistic smile. “Carson is young and otherwise healthy, so there is no reason to believe that she won't survive. She has a lot to live for.” Drew took Logan's small hand. “This little guy most of all. She would walk through the fires of Hell for him.”

“As you would for her,” Del whispered.

Drew was so interested in the beautiful baby that Del's words didn't truly register. “But I promise you that I will be here for Carson every step of the way,” the doctor pledged.

Del, Nathan and their sons were allowed a short visit some time later. They spoke softly to Carson, finally gaining a hold on their tumultuous emotions. Not one of them could imagine a life without her. Del convinced everyone else to go home right after. She and Nathan had decided to stay at Carson's house for a few nights, so Logan could sleep in his familiar surroundings. He was going to have a hard enough time without his mother's constant presence. Nathan went to their home to pack a few things for their stay. Del was left behind with Logan, but she wouldn't have it any other way.

Drew shuffled back into the waiting room. It was now almost ten o'clock and true darkness had just set in. Even though her clothes had dried from earlier, she had changed into some much more comfortable scrubs. She looked, and felt absolutely drained. Exhausted. But as she sat down next to the baby, she called up a smile. “Hey buddy. You're kind of confused about everything, aren't you?” Logan was tired, but the tension all around him had kept him awake longer than usual. There was a loud boom somewhere outside the hospital. Drew suddenly remembered that it was the Fourth of July. “Can I take him for a few minutes?” she asked Del. Wearily, his grandmother passed him over as Drew explained her reason. “I promised him this morning that he would get to see his first fireworks tonight. I want to keep my word.” Drew carried him to the window and pointed out the brilliant bursts of color in the night sky. The poor baby only watched for about five minutes before sleep finally overtook his small body and his tired head settled onto the tall woman's shoulder. Drew quietly whispered secret words as she held onto him for a few minutes longer. She loved him so much. She loved Carson so much.

Del took Logan home a few minutes later. Drew went back to Carson's room and settled in to the bedside chair for the night.

 

* * *

Early the next morning, Del returned to the hospital. After stopping at the nurses station and finding out that her daughter's condition had not changed, she went on to the room and discovered Drew slumped in a chair, asleep. It was obvious that the doctor had never left; she was wearing the same clothes from the night before. Drew held Carson's hand in hers.

“Drew?” Del shook her shoulder and called her again. “Drew?”

The sleepy doctor roused slightly. “What?” The alarmed blue eyes zoomed in on the woman in the bed and then to the myriad of machines connected to her.

“She's fine Honey,” Del soothed. She pulled over another chair and sat next to her daughter and Drew. Del laid a hand on Carson's leg as she spoke to the distraught doctor. “Drew, you need to take care of yourself better than this. Maybe I shouldn't have asked you to look after her.”

“I would have stayed here anyway,” Drew assured as she stretched out her back and rubbed her stiff neck.

“I guess you would have,” Del said. “I know how much you love her.”

“She's my best friend,” Drew stated proudly.

Del nodded. “I know. But you're in love with her.”

Drew couldn't lie as she stared at the pale, but beautiful face. “I am. But we're not…together.”

“Yes…I'd assumed. Carson is afraid of getting hurt again.” Del wasn't going to tell the story; it wasn't her place. But she did want to reassure Drew. “She does love you Dear…she is in love with you.”

“She told you that?” The hope in Drew's voice was almost painful.

Del reached inside her purse. “Not in so many words,” she admitted. “It's clearly written on her face when she looks at you though. Everyone can see that. And it's clear in every one of these photos.” Del handed her a stack of pictures. Drew stared at each one at length. The sack race. Sharing cake. Walking with Logan. The three of them at the duck pond. Carson and Drew relaxing in the shade. And many more. The final shot was the beautiful family portrait. Actually, there were two shots of that. Drew remembered the camera clicking twice, but she didn't know that Carson had turned to look at her the second time. Drew saw the love, in the photos and in person, but until Carson admitted it to herself, their relationship would remain the same. “She will come to trust in both of you,” Del assured. Drew sighed and smiled hopefully. Del tapped the doctor's leg. “Go home for awhile Drew. Get something to eat. Play with Logan. I'll stay here with Carson.”

Drew nodded reluctantly, and after a long look at Carson and placing a kiss on her cheek, the tired doctor headed home.

To be continued in Part 13

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