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Just One Year (Just One Day #2)

By´╝ÜGayle Forman

ty dishes, then dry them. I throw open the windows to air our the place, and sunshine and fresh air come blowing in.

By noon, I've collected the bottles, tossed the cigarette butts, washed and dried the dishes, dusted and vacuumed. It's about as clean as it was on its best day with Daniel, though when he comes home with Abraão and Fabiola, I'll have it spotless. Ready.

I make a coffee. I check my phone to see if there's any word from Linus, but it's sitting on my bed, dead. I plug it in to charge, setting the coffee on my shelf. The envelope is still there, with the photos of me Yael, Bram, Saba, Olga. I run my finger along the crease of the envelope, feel the weight of history inside. Wherever I'm going next, these are coming with me.




I glance at my phone. It's still dead, but soon there will be some word from Linus and Petra. Part of me thinks that I must be fired. That has to be the price to pay for last night's triumph, and it's okay because it's a price I'm willing to pay. But another part of me is losing faith that the universal law of equilibrium operates that way.

I go back into the lounge. The Adam Wilde CD has been repeating and the songs are starting to become familiar enough that I know I will be able to hear them when I'm not listening to them.

I look around the room. I fluff the cushions and lie down on the sofa. I should be in suspense, waiting for word about tonight, but I feel the opposite. It's like that moment of pause when I step out of a train station or bus station or airport into a new city and it's nothing but possibility.

Through the open window, the dissonant sounds of the city-of tram chimes and bicycle bells and the occasional jet roaring overhead-drift in and mingle with the music and lull me to sleep.

For the third time in one day, I'm woken up by the ringing of a phone. Like this morning when Yael called, I have that same feeling, of being somewhere else, somewhere right.

The ringing stops. But I know it must be Linus. My fate, Marina had called it. But it's not my fate; it's just about tonight. My fate is up to me.

I go into my room and pick up the phone. Out the window, climbing through the clouds I make out the blue-and-white underbelly of a KLM jet. I picture myself on a plane, flying out of Amsterdam, over the North Sea, over England and Ireland, past Iceland and Greenland and down Newfoundland and along the Eastern Seaboard, into New York. I feel the jerk, hear the skid of the tires touching down, the explosion of applause from the passengers. Because we are all of us, so grateful for having at last arrived.

I glance at my phone. It's full of congratulatory texts from last night, and a voicemail from Linus. "Willem, can you please call in as soon as possible," he says.

I take a deep breath, prepare myself for whatever he has to say. It doesn't really matter. I went big and now I'm going home.

Just as Linus answers there's a faint knock at the front door.

"Hello, hello . . ." Linus's voice echoes.

There's another knock, louder this time. Kate? Broodje?

I tell Linus I'll call him right back. I put the phone down. I open the door. And once again, time stops.

I'm shocked. And I'm not. She is just as I remember her. And completely transformed. A stranger. And someone I know. The truth and its opposite are flip sides of the same coin, I hear Saba say.

"Hello Willem," she says. "My name is Allyson."

Allyson. I say the name in my head and a year's worth of memories and fantasies and one-sided conversations are revised and updated. Not Lulu. Allyson. A strong name. A solid name. And somehow, a familiar name. Everything about her seems familiar. I know this person. I'm known to this person. It's then I understand what I was dreaming about this morning, who it is that's been sitting next to me on that plane all this time.

Allyson walks in.

The door clicks shut behind her. And for a minute, they're in the room with us too. Yael and Bram, thirty years ago. Their entire story rushes through my head, because it's our story, too. Only now, I realize, it was an incomplete story. Because so matter how many times he told it, Bram never told me the important part. What happened during those first three hours together in the car.

Or maybe he did, only without words. With his action.

"And so I kissed her. Like I'd been expecting her all that time," my previously melancholy father would say, always with wonder in his voice.

I'd thought the wonder was for the accidents. But maybe it wasn't. Maybe the wonder was for the stain. Three hours in a car, that was all it took. And two years later, there she was.

Maybe he was overwhelmed, like I am overwhelmed, by that mysterious intersection where love meets luck, where fate meets will. Because he'd been waiting for her. And there she was.

So he'd kissed her.

I kiss Allyson.

I complete the history that came before us, and in doing so, begin one all of our own.

Double happiness: I get it now.

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