New York City

March 17, 2014


Addie has woken up a hundred ways.

To frost forming on her skin, and a sun so hot it should have burned. To empty places, and ones that should have been. To wars raging overhead, and the ocean rocking against the hull. To sirens, and city noise, and silence, and once, a snake coiled by her head.

But Henry Strauss wakes her with kisses.

He plants them one by one, like flower bulbs, lets them blossom on her skin. Addie smiles, and rolls against him, pulls his arms around her like a cloak.

The darkness whispers in her head, Without me, you will always be alone.

But instead, she listens to the sound of Henry’s heart, to the soft murmur of his voice in her hair as he asks if she is hungry.

It is late, and he should be at work, but he tells her The Last Word is closed on Mondays. He can’t possibly know that she remembers the little wooden sign, the hours next to every day. The shop is only closed on Thursdays.

She doesn’t correct him.

They pull on clothes, and amble down to the corner shop, where Henry buys egg and cheese rolls from the counter and Addie wanders to the case in search of juice.

And that is when she hears the bell.

That is when she sees a tawny head, and a familiar face, as Robbie stumbles in. That is when her heart drops, the way it does when you miss a step, the sudden lurch of a body off-balance.

Addie has gotten good at losing—

But she isn’t ready.

And she wants to stop time, to hide, to disappear.

But for once, she can’t. Robbie sees Henry, and Henry sees her, and they are in a triangle of one-way streets. A comedy of memory and absence and terrible luck as Henry wraps an arm around her waist, and Robbie looks at Addie with ice in his eyes and says, “Who’s this?”

“That’s not funny,” says Henry. “Are you still drunk?”

Robbie draws back, indignant. “I’m—what? No. I’ve never seen this girl. You never said you met someone.”

It is a car crash in slow motion, and Addie knew it was bound to happen, the inevitable collision of people and place, time and circumstance.

Henry is an impossible thing, her strange and beautiful oasis. But he is also human, and humans have friends, have families, have a thousand strands tying them to other people. Unlike her, he has never been untethered, never existed in a void.

So it was inevitable.

But she still isn’t ready.

“Fuck’s sake, Rob, you just met her.”

“Pretty sure I’d remember.” Robbie’s eyes darken. “But then again, these days, it’s kind of hard to keep them straight.”

The space between them collapses as Henry steps in. Addie gets there first, catches his hand as it lifts, pulls him back. “Henry, stop.”

It was such a lovely jar she had kept them in. But the glass is cracking now. The water leaking through.

Robbie looks at Henry, stunned, betrayed. And she understands. It is not fair. It is never fair.

“Come on,” she says, squeezing his hand.

Henry’s attention finally drags toward her. “Please,” she says. “Come with me.”

They spill out into the street, the morning’s peace forgotten, left behind with the OJ and the sandwiches.

Henry is shaking with anger. “I’m sorry,” he says. “Robbie can be an ass but that was—”

Addie closes her eyes, sinks back against the wall. “It’s not his fault.” She could salvage this, hold the breaking jar, keep her fingers over the cracks. But how long? How long can she keep Henry to herself? How long can she keep him from noticing the curse?

“I don’t think he remembered me.”

Henry squints, clearly confused. “How could he not?”

Addie hesitates.

It is easy to be honest when there are no wrong words, because the words don’t stick. When whatever you say belongs to only you.

But Henry is different, he hears her, he remembers, and suddenly every word is full of weight, honesty such a heavy thing.

She only has one chance.

She can lie to him, like she would anyone else, but if she starts, she’ll never be able to stop, and even more than that—she doesn’t want to lie to him. She’s waited too long to be heard, seen.

So Addie throws herself into the truth.

“You know how some people have face blindness? They look at friends, family, people they’ve known their whole lives, and they don’t recognize them?”

Henry frowns. “In theory, sure…”

“Well, I have the opposite.”

“You remember everyone?”

“No,” says Addie. “I mean yes, I do, but that’s not what I’m talking about. It’s that—people forget me. Even if we’ve met a hundred times. They forget.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

It doesn’t. Of course it doesn’t.

“I know,” she says, “but it’s the truth. If we went back in that store right now, Robbie wouldn’t remember. You could introduce me, but the moment I walked away, the moment I was out of sight, he’d forget again.”

Henry shakes his head. “How? Why?”

The smallest questions. The biggest answer.

Because I was a fool.

Because I was afraid.

Because I wasn’t careful.

“Because,” she says, slumping back against the concrete wall. “I’m cursed.”

Henry stares at her, brow furrowed behind his glasses. “I don’t understand.”

Addie takes a deep breath, trying to steady her nerves. And then, because she has decided to tell the truth, that’s what she does.

“My name is Addie LaRue. I was born in Villon in the year 1691, my parents were Jean and Marthe, and we lived in a stone house just beyond an old yew tree…”

Villon-sur-Sarthe, France

July 29, 1764


The cart rattles to a stop beside the river.

“I can take you further,” says the driver, gripping the reins. “We’re still a mile out.”

“That’s all right,” she says. “I know the way.”

An unknown cart and driver might draw attention, and Addie would rather return the way she left, the way she learned every inch of this place: on foot.

She pays the man and steps down, the edge of her gray cloak skimming the dirt. She hasn’t bothered with luggage, has learned to travel light; or rather, to let go of things as easily as she comes into them. It is simpler that way. Things are too hard to hold on to.

“You’re from here, then?” he asks, and Addie squints into the sun.

“I am,” she says. “But I’ve been gone a long time.”

The driver looks her up and down. “Not too long.”

“You’d be surprised,” she says, and then he cracks the whip, and the cart trundles off, and she is alone again in a land she knows, down to her bones. A place she has not been in fifty years.

Strange—twice as long away as she was here, and still it feels like home.

She doesn’t know when she made the decision to come back, or even how, only that it had been building in her like a storm, from the time spring began to feel like summer, the heaviness rolling in like the promise of rain, until she could see the dark clouds on the horizon, hear the thunder in her head, urging her to go.