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Not This Time

Elle looked into his eyes once more, still compelled by their green color but also afraid. She was afraid of the boy she thought she had known and loved. Pulling away her glance she took a folded manila envelope from her coat pocket and tucked it between the staircase banister and the wall. He couldn’t follow her; she couldn’t let that happened. She made up lies and left, saying that she was going to New York to get a job and have a life. He had believed her when she said that they would be able to start their relationship over there, and it wouldn’t have any dents. Not this time. He tucked her dark hair behind an ear and kissed her goodbye. She pretended to care; she kissed back, although rather hurriedly. Behind her closed the wooden door, its face painted with tacky red paint, blotchy in spots and smooth in others. The texture of the brush could be seen if you stood very close to the door, if you watched as it shut behind you. Elle turned not a single time, and walked in a straight line to the black car parked in the driveway. The paint was matte and lacking in shine but it was still anyone’s dream car when she rode away in it. Watching from the kitchen window was the boy, and he held furled hands by his sides, refusing to care. When he allowed his heel to come in contact with the cabinets, he wanted to kick. He wanted to bust open the thin wood, so vulnerable and like wet paper to his power. Instead he told her he understood, and let her drive away when he knew she was not coming back. She was never coming back.

6 months earlier, Alexander
The music was loud, the lyrics incomprehensible as it played through the speakers in the car. My car, I told myself as I smiled. Elle Hansen sat in the passenger’s seat beside me, drumming manicured nails against the dashboard as if out of spite. I kept my patience steady and held my hands against the wheel, carefully gliding the car into a parking place with confidence.
“So, doughnuts or coffee?” I said, opening Elle’s door and slightly bowing. A blush rose up the sides of her face and a wide smile showcased her straight teeth. Not because of the braces, but because she was Elle, and she didn’t need makeup or braces to be beautiful. She just… was. She dropped a folded bill into my hand and tapped my forehead with a finger as if saying, “You know what I want silly. Why do you even ask?”
We had only been dating for two months, and still we already knew each other like the backs of our hands. Do you recall that shelf in your room you never seem to have time to clean off, and you like it that way because you know where everything is? That how it was for us, we could just fit each other’s pieces together and remember where they were placed. It struck me as rather unordinary for Elle to pick someone like me, because I am not (and never have been) the typical guy. Yeah, I’ve tried out for teams and made them, but only because my past girlfriends had been cheerleaders and wouldn’t have admitted it but simply wanted to see me in multiple jerseys. That was in the time when I still cared what people thought, and woke every morning to the thick gray fog of a school bus, ready to carry me off to paradise. Here’s the real thing though. I have never liked sports or cared for short skirts, or stared at every feminine from that passed me throughout high school. I love music and I love to sing, but not even half of my friends could tell you that. Maybe I’m not always on pitch and I’m not a professional pianist. You can call me all of those things and mean it offensively, but I’m not a football player and never will be. Elle understood that and she still loved me, partly because she felt the same way, although her voice was clear and poured out of her throat like thin syrup. The other side of our relationship I did not understand, but perhaps it was some emotional connection. I wouldn’t have known; I had never really loved someone before, I’ve only been a tool to those who chose me.
“Alexander, the place will shut down before you get up here if you keep moping about like that!” she called from the door to the diner. Shaking my head I went behind her, checking my back pocket for my wallet and walking inside.
This is how secret places work. You find a somewhere that is special to you, and you share it with someone when you know the time is right. Two weeks ago I had brought Elle to Simon’s for the first time and she nearly went through three entrees of Shrimp cocktail and parmesan chicken. However, Simon’s has the absolute best coffee known to mankind, and nothing else really sticks out after you taste it. My wallet was empty other than a twenty dollar bill, and I was glad to get the usual order of coffee and cake doughnuts for both of us. Resting my elbow against the counter, I waited for a waitress to seat us. The interior of the diner was all dark and red, its theme set somewhere between medieval and black and white movie times. The scent resting in the air was always the thick trail of cinnamon and cloves, but no one could tell you why. Following a rather short woman with blond hair tied in a knot atop of her head, we were lead to a table and sat on either side.



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