Yet she lays out this family plan the way you'd say, 'After yoga, I'll go to Lia's for the mani-special and then wax on about hairstyles and hemlines until dinner.' If I were gifted at making long-term plans, which by now we all know I'm not, and if I was at all hopeful, which we all know that I can never be, although it crosses my mind that it's entirely possible these are all just huge, fandking, temporary setbacks and nothing more, even though it's been going on for over three years now, since Holly died, and I met Lincoln Presley. Events that could be construed as somehow inevitably related. Yes, perhaps there's an expiration date on the said pursuit of unhappiness. Perhaps, things will eventually go my way after I actually discover what that way is supposed to be.
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You know what they say about air and water when it comes to fire, don't you?' she asks. Now, I'm curious. She hasn't spoken for the last ten minutes of the drive. 'What?' 'Too much air blows out the fire. Too much water destroys it.' I nod trying to determine what she's really comparing us to. 'The idea would be to keep the flame going, right. For years?' She nods. 'Like a relationship. Like a marriage.' She cringes at the word marriage. Noted. 'So you need the air-to stay constant-to fan the flames of the fire, and you know, grasshopper, ' I smile at her and catch sight of the corners of her mouth turning slightly upward in response to the endearment, 'a hot enough fire will burn water, so you have to be careful with the water too.' 'That I do know, ' she says softly. 'So that's the truth about air and water.' She sighs deep. 'Which is?' 'It's hard to maintain the balance to keep the fire going. You have to fan the flames without putting it out with too much water. But too little water will burn the fire right up. Too much fire. Too much destruction. We're out of control.' 'You're talking in circles, ' I say. 'No. That's us, ' she says with certainty.
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Finally, I formulate and say a little prayer to God, and since we haven't officially spoken since my mom and Elliott died that takes up quite a bit of my time. The rest of it I spend on trying to determine what I think love really is and what I actually feel for Tally Landon at this point. Upon deep reflection, I realize that I must be at the edge of life's abyss. This is me. All there is left of me; and yet, I'm looking over and contemplating its meaning on whether to jump or stay. I'm not sure this feeling for Tally Landon is made up of love any more than it is of hate. This must be a kind of purgatory-the in-between place-because these pervasive feelings of rage and passion for Tally are equalized and actually co-mingle together-like fire and water-each ready to extinguish the other. I've come to accept the truth. There may be nothing left for us. It could go either way.
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My smell stays with you? I ruined you... for what?' 'Your smell keeps me going all the time. I'm in a clutch game or at practice and it's full count? Your cloves and vanilla scent calms me down. I spray it on the front of my uniform and rub my right hand across like this.' I demonstrate by rubbing my chest and she watches me in fascination like a starstruck teenager watches a rockstar play his bass. 'I went to three different stores before I found the exact scent. Expensive. French perfume. Chamade by Guerlain.' She nods looking fascinated or charmed by me at least for a few seconds. 'I got it in Paris when I was there a few years ago. I love it.' 'I do too. So yes, you ruined me. For anyone else.' She's smiling but then it slowly disappears like a countdown does as it goes from ten to zero. 'What are you doing to me, Elvis?' she asks, looking troubled.
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I stand still for a long time, holding the note, and let it all sink in. Her leaving is almost palpable like a gale-force wind that's rolled into my life in the span of a single evening and left behind all this incalculable destruction, both inside and out. Yes, the tempest has passed, but the air around me feels different. I can hardly breathe. Nothing is the same without her. As the lone survivor of her particular storm, I begin to wonder just exactly what I'm supposed to do now.
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The ending is coming. I can feel it. I don't know if I can take it this time. But then again, I say that every time and yet, every time I take it. And, I come back to her again for more. I will take whatever time I can get with her. I will do that for a lifetime. I will. I know that much about myself. She is my water. I can never get enough of her, and it appears that I will die trying to love her, to keep her, to hold her with me, even though our time together seems to evaporate so swiftly. It slips through our fingers so damn fast that we don't even have time to savor it when we're together.