“Does he mean so much to you?” he asks, voice flat and hard as river stones. “Then go. Spend time with your human love. Bury him, and mourn him, and plant a tree over his grave.” His edges begin to blur into the dark. “I will still be here,” he says. “And so will you.”

Luc turns away, and is gone.

Addie sinks to her knees in the grass.

She stays there until the first threads of light seep into the sky, and then, at last, she forces herself up again, walks to the subway in a fog, Luc’s words looping through her head.

You are not human, Adeline.

You thought you found each other?

You must have thought yourselves so clever.

Spend time with your love.

I will still be here.

And so will you.

The sun is rising by the time she gets to Brooklyn.

She stops to pick up breakfast, a concession, an apology, for staying away all night. And that is when she sees the paper stacked against the newsstand. That is when she sees the date stamped in the upper corner.

August 6, 2014.

She left the apartment on the 30th of July.

Spend time with your love, he said.

But Luc has taken it. He didn’t just steal a night. He took an entire week. Seven precious days, erased from her life … and Henry’s.

Addie runs.

She stumbles through the door, and up the stairs, turns out her purse, but the key is gone, and she pounds on the door, terror surging through her that the world has changed, that Luc has somehow rewritten more than time, somehow taken more, taken everything.

But then the lock slides, and the door falls open, and there is Henry, exhausted, disheveled, and she knows, by the look in his eyes, that he did not expect her to come back. That at some point, between the first morning and the next, and the next, and the next, he thought she was gone.

Addie throws her arms around him now.

“I’m so sorry,” she says, and it is not just for the stolen week.

It is for the deal, the curse, the fact it is her fault.

“I’m sorry,” she says, over and over, and Henry doesn’t shout, doesn’t rage, doesn’t even say I told you so. He simply holds her tight, and says, “Enough,” says, “Promise me,” says, “Stay.”

And none of them are questions, but she knows he is asking, pleading with her to let it go, to stop fighting, stop trying to change their fates, and just be with him until the end.

And Addie cannot bear the thought of giving up, of giving in, of going down without a fight.

But Henry is breaking, and it is her fault, and so, in the end, she agrees.

New York City

August 2014


These are the happiest days of Henry’s life.

It is an odd thing to say, he knows.

But there is a strange freedom to it, a peculiar comfort in the knowing. The end is rushing up to meet him, and yet, he does not feel like he is falling toward it.

He knows he should be scared.

Every day he braces for the restless terror, waits for the storm clouds to roll in, expects the inevitable panic to climb inside his chest, pry him apart.

But for the first time in months, in years, in as long as he can remember, he is not afraid. He is worried about his friends, of course, about the bookstore, and the cat. But beyond the low hum of concern is only a strange calm, a steadiness, and the incredible relief that he found Addie, that he got to know her, to love her, to have her here beside him.

He is happy.

He is ready.

He is not afraid.

That is what he tells himself.

He is not afraid.

* * *

They decide to go upstate.

To get out of the city, away from the stagnant summer heat.

To see the stars.

He rents a car, and they drive north, and he realizes, halfway up the Hudson, that Addie has never met his family, and then he realizes, with a sudden, sinking weight, that he is not supposed to go home until Rosh Hashanah, and that he will be gone by then. That if he does not take this exit, he will never get a chance to say good-bye.

And then, the clouds begin to roll in, and fear tries to climb inside his chest, because he doesn’t know what he would say, he doesn’t know what good it would do.

And then he is past the exit, then it is too late, and he can breathe again, and Addie is pointing to a sign for fresh fruit, and they pull off the freeway and buy peaches from the stand, and sandwiches from the market, and drive an hour north to a state park, where the sun is hot but the shade beneath the trees is cool, and they spend the day wandering the woodland paths, and when night falls they make a picnic on the roof of the rented car, and stretch out between the wild, weedy grass and the stars.

So many, the night doesn’t seem that dark.

And he is still happy.

And he can still breathe.

They have no tent, but it is too hot for covers anyway.

They lie on a blanket in the grass, and look up at the ghost of the Milky Way, and he thinks of the Artifact on the High Line, the exhibit of the sky, how close the stars felt then, and now, how far away.

“If you could do it again,” he says, “would you still make the deal?”

And Addie says yes.

It has been a hard and lonely life, she says, and a wonderful one, too. She has lived through wars, and fought in them, witnessed revolution and rebirth. She has left her mark on a thousand works of art, like a thumbprint in the bottom of a drying bowl. She has seen marvels, and gone mad, has danced in snowbanks and frozen to death along the Seine. She fell in love with the darkness many times, fell in love with a human once.

And she is tired. Unspeakably tired.

But there is no question she has lived.

“Nothing is all good or all bad,” she says. “Life is so much messier than that.”

And there in the dark, he asks if it was really worth it.

Were the instants of joy worth the stretches of sorrow?

Were the moments of beauty worth the years of pain?

And she turns her head, and looks at him, and says, “Always.”

They fall asleep beneath the stars, and when they wake up in the morning, the heat has leaked away, the air is cool, the first whispers of another season, the first one he won’t see, waiting in the distance.

And still, he tells himself, he is not afraid.

* * *

And then the weeks turn into days.

There are some good-byes he has to make.

He meets Bea and Robbie at the Merchant one night. Addie sits across the bar, sipping a soda and giving him space. He wants her there, he needs her there, a silent anchor in the storm. But they both know that if she were at the table with him, Bea and Robbie might forget, and he needs them to remember.

And for a little while, everything is wonderfully, painfully normal.

Bea talks about her latest thesis proposal, and apparently ninth time’s the charm, because it’s been approved, and Robbie talks about the show’s premiere next week, and Henry does not tell him that he snuck into a dress rehearsal yesterday, that he and Addie lurked in the last row of seats, slouched low so he could watch Robbie on the stage, brilliant, and beautiful, and in his element, lounging on his throne with Bowie’s flare, and a devil’s grin, and a magic all his own.

And at last, Henry lies, and tells them he is going out of town.