"I'm leaving," she says.
His eyes roll skyward. "Just like you left last time, right? Don't kid yourself, Adelyn. You're never gone long."
"This time, I'm staying gone."
He hears her drag down the suitcase and open and shut doors, the soft murmur of friction as clothes brush against each other and become pressed so tightly together that had they lungs they would not breathe. He hears these things as he has heard them before: passively. He reads a Camus volume at the small kitchen table, so full of memories (and really it had been her idea to have sex there, but he wasn't complaining) that he can almost feel tears stinging his eyelids. The saline liquid is no match for the stronghold of thick, dark eyelashes, and will remain an ocean atop his blue irises and the deep black pits of his pupils.
When she reappears, she carries the suitcase in both hands, no mascara tracks (and this is the first hint that this is not like the other times).
"I'll come get my CDs later," she says, void of tone.
"Who are you even going to stay with at 3 AM?"
She smiles. "I grew up here, remember? I've got old friends on every block." She takes an almost hesitant step toward the door. Almost hesitant-not quite so. "Goodbye, David."
He rolls his eyes again. "See you tomorrow."
When the door shuts, David realizes that he doesn't remember the last three pages.
The suitcase is heavy, but it should be heavier, and if this is all her life, then she is sad for the lacking. It's not that she wants more; she just wants different.
Different than David and two years of experiments in elasticity, where she can only go so far before snapping right back.
She strains her biceps and lifts, climbs stairs and knocks on a door.
Bailey answers the door immediately. "Adely?"
"I hoped you'd be up."
A true gentleman, just as she's always known him, Bailey immediately takes her suitcases, hugs her and kisses her on the cheek. She smiles.
"David?" he asks. She just nods.
"Come in, I was just watching reruns."
"You never sleep, do you, Bay?" she asks affectionately, barely remember what affection feels like.
"Not usually. No rest for the weary, et cetera." They sat on the couch.
Adele sank in and laid her head back, looking at the ceiling. Bailey had it painted a glossy white with pale yellow stars, and she recalls nights from a lifetime ago when she would sleep over and stare at them until she fell asleep.
"Are you alright?" he asks kindly. David and Bailey are a study in contrasts. David is light where Bailey is dark: David tall, with dirty blond hair and blue eyes to Bailey's five-eleven-and-a-half with dark dark hair and endlessly dark eyes. Bailey is Brooklyn; David is LA.
Bailey is kind where David is silent and indifferent.
Bailey knows the young Adele, Adele from childhood and Adele through teenage hell and Adele through college and into the real world. Bailey has been her best friend since they were six.
"I'm fine," she says.
"Are you staying this time?"
"Yes." This, for the first time, sounds plausible in her own head. She will not go back to David. The elastic will not slap this time. This time, she'll break the rubber band that serves as their only connection, and it will snap back to sting him as much as she stings right now,
Bailey pulls her into a hug, and she cries a little, but she puts no heart into it. She cannot find the space in her head to be sad when she feels so free.
David watches late-night programming on Cartoon Network and wonders where Adelyn went.
He contents himself with thoughts of her return, of happy tears, of smiles.
He fears they will not come this time.
David has no intentions of being a screw-up. He has a good job; he's a paralegal at a good law firm. He's intelligent and funny and sweet.
To everyone but Adelyn.
The reason for this continually eludes him.
If she would just stop coming back, he thinks, maybe I could treat her better. But therein lies the problem: impossible events breed impossible outcomes.
He knows he shouldn't yell as much as he does. He knows she deserves more freedom, and that she deserves better. He doesn't understand himself.
He loves her. He loves her more than he loves anyone. His friends, his family-they all pale in comparison to his devotion to her. And he needs her, with a scary kind of fervor that cuts to the quick of them both. Obviously, with her ethereal beauty and the way that she looks like an angel sleeping next to him sometimes when he wakes up in the middle of the night an glances over, he wants her. There is no two out of three situation here.
The situation here is incomprehensible. It hurts David's head when he thinks about it, so he tries not to. Often, he fails. This does not bother him so much as when he does not.
Adele sleeps on the couch, despite Bailey's vehement protests that she should take his bed, or at least the guest bedroom. She wants to see the stars, to feel small against the never-ending background of universe. She sleeps peacefully.
Rays of sun from Bailey's bay window greet her when she wakes up. It is 1:00 the next day, and Bailey has left for work. Adele recalls that she is not needed in the recording studio for two weeks. She is safe.
Refreshed, she goes to the kitchenette, where Bailey sat a banana and a bagel for her breakfast. She loves her friend, so unlike any other person she knows.
She finishes the banana first, helping herself to some bottled water. Halfway through the bagel, she makes a decision.
She showers, changes, makes herself up, repacks her suitcase, and heads back to David's.
David is still reading Camus when she walks in.
"No work today?" she asks.
"I'm sick," he says.
"I know that."
"I've been expecting you," he says. He smiles a little. "What took you so long?"
Reeling a little from the sudden subject change, she stammers, "What-I just woke up."
His smile turns to a smug smirk. "I knew you'd be back," he says.
This is not the way she meant it to be, but it is the way it has to happen. She never meant to be this kind of girl.
It will be no different this time, she is sure. They will fight and yell and battle things out until they're both too tired to move. She will leave again, and then she'll come back. This is the way things are when you're elastic.