- The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Luc’s expression darkens. “There was no ploy, Adeline. But if you think I’ll change the terms of his—”
Addie shakes her head. “I’m not talking about Henry’s deal,” she says. “I’m talking about mine.” She has practiced the words, but they still tumble awkwardly off her tongue. “I’m not asking for your mercy, and I know you have no charity. So I’m offering a trade. Let Henry go. Let him live. Let him remember me, and—”
“You would surrender your soul?” There is a shadow in his gaze when he says it, a hesitation in the words, less want than worry, and she knows then, she has him.
“No,” she says. “But only because you do not want it.” And before he can protest, she continues, “You want me.”
Luc says nothing, but his eyes brighten, his interest piqued.
“You were right,” she says. “I am not one of them. Not anymore. And I am tired of losing. Tired of mourning everything I ever try to love.” She reaches out to touch Luc’s cheek. “But I won’t lose you. And you won’t lose me. So yes.” She looks straight into his eyes. “Do this, and I will be yours, as long as you want me by your side.”
He seems to hold his breath, but she’s the one who cannot breathe. The world tips, falters, threatening to fall.
And then, at last, Luc smiles, his green eyes emerald with victory.
She lets herself fold, bows her head against his chest in relief. And then his fingers come up beneath her chin, tipping her face to his, and he kisses her the way he did the night they met, swift, and deep, and hungry, and Addie feels his teeth skate across her bottom lip, the taste of copper blossom on her tongue.
And she knows that it is done.
New York City
September 4, 2014
“No,” says Henry, the word half-swallowed by the storm.
The rain falls hard and fast on the roof. On them.
The clock has stopped, the hand thrown up in surrender. But he is still there.
“You can’t do this,” he says, head spinning. “I won’t let you.”
Addie flashes him a pitying look, because of course, he cannot stop her.
No one has ever been able to.
Estele used to say she was stubborn as a stone.
But even stones wear away to nothing.
And she has not.
“You can’t do this,” he says again, and she says, “It is already done,” and Henry feels dizzy, feels sick, feels the ground sway beneath him.
“Why?” he pleads. “Why would you do it?”
“Think of it as a thank-you,” she says, “for seeing me. For showing me what it’s like to be seen. To be loved. Now you get a second chance. But you have to let them see you as you are. You have to find people who see you.”
It is wrong.
It is all wrong.
“You don’t love him.”
A sad smile crosses her face.
“I’ve had my share of love,” she says, and it is time, it must be time, because his vision is blurring, the edges going black.
“Listen to me.” Her voice is urgent now. “Life can feel very long sometimes, but in the end, it goes so fast.” Her eyes are glassy with tears, but she is smiling. “You better live a good life, Henry Strauss.”
She begins to pull away, but his grip tightens. “No.”
She sighs, fingers threading through his hair. “You’ve given me so much, Henry. But I need you to do one more thing.” Her forehead presses against his. “I need you to remember.”
And he can feel his hold slipping as darkness washes across his vision, blotting out the skyline and the roof and the girl folding herself against him.
“Promise me,” she says, and her face is beginning to smudge, the swipe of her lips, brown curls in a heart-shaped face, two wide eyes, seven freckles like stars.
“Promise,” she whispers, and he is just lifting his hands, to hold her against him, to promise, but by the time his arms close around her, she is gone.
And he is falling.
I REMEMBER YOU
Title of Piece: The Girl Who Got Away
Location: On loan from the personal archives of Henry Strauss
Description: Collection of six (6) photographs depicting a girl in motion, her features erased, obscured, or otherwise unreadable. The final photo is different. It features a living room floor, the edge of a table, a pile of books, only a pair of feet visible at the bottom.
Background: The subject of the photos remains a topic of intense speculation, given the author’s relationship to the source material. The flash has erased all meaningful details, but the medium is what makes the pieces remarkable. In standard photography, long exposure would make it possible to achieve the desired effect of motion, but the Polaroid’s fixed shutter speed makes the illusion of movement all the more impressive.
Estimated Value: Not for sale
All works currently on display at the Modern Museum of Art exhibit In Search of the Real Addie LaRue curated by Beatrice Caldwell, PhD, Columbia.
New York City
September 5, 2014
This is how it ends.
A boy wakes up alone in bed.
Sunlight spills through the gap in the curtains, the buildings beyond slick with the aftermath of rain.
He feels sluggish, hungover, still caught within the dregs of sleep. He knows he was dreaming, but he can’t for the life of him remember the details of the dream, and it must not have been very pleasant, because he feels only a deep relief at waking.
Book looks over the mound of the comforter, orange eyes wide and waiting.
It’s late, the boy can tell by the angle of the light, the sounds of traffic on the street.
He didn’t mean to sleep so long.
The girl he loves is always the first to wake. Shuffling beneath the sheets, the weight of her attention, the soft touch of her fingers on his skin—they are always enough to rouse him out of sleep. Only once did he wake first, and then he had the strange pleasure of seeing her, knees curled up and face tucked against the pillows, still beneath the surface of sleep.
But that was a rainy morning just after dawn, when the world was gray, and today the sun is so bright he doesn’t know how either of them slept through it.
He rolls over to wake her.
But the other side of the bed is empty.
He splays his hand over the place where she should be, but the sheets are cold and smooth.
“Addie?” he calls, rising to his feet.
He moves through the apartment, checks the kitchen, the bathroom, the fire escape, even though he knows, he knows, he knows, that she is not there.
And then, of course, he remembers.
Not the dream, there was no dream, only the night before.
The last night of his life.
The damp concrete smell of the rooftop, the last tick of the watch as its hand found twelve, her smile as she looked up into his face, and made him promise to remember.
And now he’s here, and she’s gone, and there’s no trace of her left behind except the stuff in his head and—