by Lavender

Sometimes Liz would ask her: "Why do you put up with this?"

And she would reply: "Because he's worth it."


She has experienced passion. She has felt it flow into her, honey from his fingertips passing through her translucent skin, her invisible veins, rising in her and lashing out again. She knows what the friction of two bodies can produce, the rubbing and pulsing and sweating and sighing. The way the air would grow still around them, and how impossibly loud the sound of his breathing and her nails scraping against his skin became.

It was passion. It was stunning in its own way, but it wasn't what she wanted.


Once Liz had told her, "You have more talent in your little finger than anyone else in this town."

Once, she would have agreed.


When she had arrived in New York, the first thing that had made her think, This is it, this is New York, was the bathroom in the hotel lobby. It was marble and glass and gold and beautiful. Soft maroon handtowels were carefully stacked along the gray and green sinks with shining taps that reminded her of desert sun.

There was a young man with a chipped guitar and shabby black peacoat in the subway, singing. She looked at his eyes clenched shut, her own eyes wide and bright, and thought, I could never do that.

That was when she realized that she'd made her first mistake.

This wasn't forgetting to add the yeast to the bread dough. This wasn't denting her mother's car when she was fifteen and taking it out for a "test drive." This was her entire existence up until that second in time, as she was passing a boy who would live his entire life chasing something he could never have, simply because it was his and would always be.

There was only one thing in the world she could ever imagine herself seeking forever, damn the consequences, and it wasn't what she'd thought -- hoped -- it would be.


Liz told her once that she was a glutton for punishment.

She had denied it, but realized with a sickening feeling that her friend was probably right.


In the mornings she would almost always wake before he did. She would blink until she remembered where she was, who she was with, what she'd done. Her eyes would trace his profile meticulously until he woke up and gave her that bleary, early-morning smile that she'd grown to cherish and curse simultaneously.

"What are you thinking," he'd asked once, and she'd smiled at him and told him that she was thinking that she loved him and this, but mostly that, and he'd smiled back at her teasing.

Really she was thinking, Hurt me. Leave me in the middle of the night. Ignore me. Tell me to get out of your life. Tell me you've never loved me at all. Give me something I can twist into sweet chords and sad words.

Instead he would kiss her and their fervent exploration of one another would begin again.


"We've been through so much," Liz would sigh through a thin veil of tears.

"Yeah," she'd echo, but not nearly enough.


She wanted the need coiling up in the pit of her stomach when she touched the smooth wood. She wanted her fingers to dig and scratch until they bled on the strings. She wanted to just look at her instrument, her extension of herself, and feel the inspiration pouring out of her faster than she could control.

It had to come from her, not her-with-him.

With one glimpse of the curve of her cheek, a brush of her elbow bumping against his arm, he could go reeling. It sent her reeling. They were something stormy and dynamic and fascinating together.

She wanted to be all of that on her own. She wanted people to look at her and her guitar and see a whirlwind of ardor and agony. She wanted to chew them up and spit them out with a breath's worth of words. She wanted someone to watch her and not tell her that she was so good, that she was talented, but find themselves unable to string two coherent words together.


Liz had said, "Without your dreams, you're just me."

Now she thinks, maybe that's not so bad.


She thinks all of this as she lays in her expensive hotel room bed, the sheets tucked tightly around her body. It is bigger than his, and softer. It is more in every way possible. The comforter is pine green, her favorite color, with a gorgeous French pattern in ivory fabric you'd never find in Roswell, anywhere.

She looks at the guitar propped against the wall beneath the window, next to the oak desk she won't use. Her fingers don't itch to slide across the strings once more before sleep. They twist themselves in the cool green linens beneath her, imagining that there is heated skin against her instead.

She wonders:

Was it worth it?


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