A/N: Inspiration from this fic came
from Blue’s Just This? On fanfiction.net. If you’re into slash,
I highly recommend it. Also, a huge, Huge, HUGE thanks to my beta reader,
Elanor Gamgee, without whom I would have split infinitives and commas
where there should be semi-colons (and vice-versa!). Thanks!
Disclaimer: I don’t own it. Don’t
Steam drifted up from the sewer
grates as the frigid December air met with the warm, stagnant underground,
curling around the toe of a smart, low-heeled leather pump. She stepped
to the curb, almost slipping in the dirty city slush that was the remnant
of London’s first snow of the season. There would be more to come. “Taxi!”
she cried, though her voice was drowned out as a horn blared and a pair
of headlights rushed past, sending a spray of freezing ice melt onto the
woman’s tailored jacket. Not even a cab would stop at this time of night,
not in this part of town. She sighed, brushed herself off, smoothing the
pantsuit that had been rumpled throughout a horrendous day at work, and
adjusted the cashmere muffler so that it once again covered the entirety
of her face, leaving only a small slit that allowed steely grey eyes to
She continued to walk, aware
of the mournful vagrants that wandered the street, taking in her smart
business apparel and licking their alcohol-parched lips at the thought
of just how much liquor her purse might bring. It was like this every
night. She clutched her bag more tightly and walked a bit faster, smoothing
her pants and dragging her muffler up as she fought to keep her attention
anywhere but on her immediate surroundings. The muffler slipped again,
and this time she yanked it up as far as it would go; she recoiled as
her perfectly self-manicured fingernails scratched the surface of her
grotesquely deformed skin—the northern most edge of a scar that stretched
like the Appalachian trail from the middle of her chin to her right temple.
Yes, she would get him back some day. For what he did. For the torture,
both physical and mental, that she had suffered on his behalf. For the
bruises and cuts. And especially for making her love him.
Evan Jameson sighed and raked his
hands through his unruly black hair. Startlingly green eyes stared through
stylish wire-framed glasses at the spiral-bound notebook that rested in
front of him. The first page of the newly purchased book was already full
of what promised, merely by Evan’s name, to be a best-seller. While this
first of many pages would be worked, re-worked, changed, and probably
unrecognizable by the publishing date, it was, at least, a good place
What he did. He had been given
a death sentence for it. Nothing less than he deserved for all the lives
he had destroyed. Death, in fact, was too kind for him. She touched the
scar again and halted in the dimly lit street, suddenly drowning in a
flood of horrific memories. A knife, he had said. She should be lucky
that he had used a knife. She should feel honored that he wanted to be
the last to look upon her beautiful face.
She shuddered, recalling his
foul words, the malicious, sadistic smile on his face. No, lethal injection
wasn’t justice. He didn’t have to relive all of the pain he had caused.
He wouldn’t have to live for the rest of his life with the memory of searing
pain permanently blazoned in his mind. She alone would give him the justice
he deserved. A tear rolled down her left cheek from her one good eye.
The only one that could cry. He would pay.
Ginny clenched her fists. Yes, Harry Potter would pay for the lives he
Evan’s head snapped up. Where had
that come from? Ginny…Harry Potter…his eyes had drooped and the words
had written themselves. They never would have made paper, never would
have entered his waking consciousness, otherwise. He quickly scratched
the last two lines out and started a new paragraph, willing himself not
to re-read them, willing himself not to think about why he wrote human
suffering so well. Willing himself not to remember just how much of it
he had seen.
Ginny clenched her fists.
Yes, Harry Potter would pay for the lives he had destroyed.
She jumped as a gnarled, weather-beaten
hand clamped hard onto her shoulder. A beggar, one of those drunken vagrants,
startled her from her thoughts of vengeance. Fear momentarily clouded
her burning anger; a chill ran through her as she stared into watery blue
eyes dulled by years on the street and sharpened with a hunger that liquor
consumption alone had not cured. His mouth was stretched into a wide gummy
grin, his few misshapen teeth moldy and rotten, pouring a foul reek as
he fumbled greedily for her purse.
Her face contorted in horror and
the muffler fell, revealing her countenance and the length of her hideous
scar. The beggar’s ghastly grin disappeared. His bleary eyes focused,
traveling from her eye to her chin and back. Slowly he backed away, mumbling
his apologies and vanishing back into the dark alleyway. She suddenly
wished that he had taken her purse instead.
Evan sighed again and flipped the
notebook closed. He realized that any psychologist would give up his entire
practice just for the chance at an hour with the author’s brain. He had
done it again. He hadn’t meant to, of course, but it had happened. This
would be his seventh book in a row to have a scar prominently figured
in it. Oh, he knew the psychological implications of this. His subconscious
just wouldn’t let him off. The scar had become a trademark of his, one
he would gladly escape from. One he had tried to escape from but never
seemed able. Always famous for my scars, he thought bitterly. Except this
time, I’ve brought it upon myself. Physically or otherwise, there will
always be scars in my life.
He momentarily considered just tossing
the notebook out and starting something new, something fresh. Something
that didn’t scream “troubled past” from every sentence. Nevertheless,
he added the notebook to his collection and made the short trip across
his tiny London flat to his tiny stove and set the tea. As he took what
was supposed to be the first soothing sip, he winced as he realized that
he had forgotten to add the teabag. The amber brown of the liquid was,
in fact, the actual color of the water.
Most people would have died of shock
if they knew that the great Evan Jameson, author of six best-selling novels
over the course of seven years, multi-millionaire, and recently voted
most eligible bachelor by Women’s
Literary Republic, lived in poverty-level squalor.
Evan’s flat consisted of only three rooms. There was one pathetically
small bedroom that barely fit a cot and a reading light with room to swing
the door open to the inside and to pile his notebooks on
the floor. Next to that was a smaller bathroom
with a grubby toilet and a square standup shower measuring about one metre
by one metre—the water sometimes ran and sometimes didn’t, regardless
of whether or not he was up on his payments, and it was never warm. The
small common area had a stove, a sink, and a small wooden cupboard on
the wall. This served as his kitchen and living room; a worn, dirty couch
bought second-hand separated the two. There was a broken-down telly by
the window, which was boarded up but still emitted tiny shafts of light
through intermittent holes created by termites. The floor was covered
in a moth-eaten rug that might, at one point, have been red, but was now
a grayish brown color. Evan tossed the chipped ceramic mug into the beaten
sink and flopped himself on the couch. A cloud of dust rose around him,
making him splutter and clean his glasses.
Most people, in fact, had never even
seen him. He kept to himself, attending no book signings or publicity
stunts. His photo never graced the back cover of his books, either. He
limited his biographical page always to the same two sentences:
Evan Jameson was born in 1980.
He currently resides in Great
The mystery that was Evan Jameson
sparked many a coffee shop conversation and provided all of the publicity
he needed for a successful career.
Evan looked restlessly about his
dismal surroundings and realized exactly why he had been so creatively
stifled of late. The lack of light and color in that room which he spent
so much time had slowed his thinking to a dull torpor. He needed to get
out. He needed the caffeine that only a steamy cup of coffee could provide;
not even his beloved tea would suffice at this point. He also needed cleaner
water, but a cup of coffee would suffice for now. Rising slowly from the
musty couch, he grabbed his wallet and the notebook he had just been working
in. Perhaps inspiration would find him in the coffee shop.
Taking a breath of sweet London
pollution, watching the sky gradually turn a lifeless grey color, and
feeling the wet, sticky air before the rain made him feel alive again.
This was dreariness at its best. This was London. This was what suspense
novels were made of. As Evan passed down the street crowded with the beginnings
of afternoon rush-hour traffic, he watched as the buildings gradually
changed from broken, weather beaten low-rent housing to grandiose flats
that bordered lush gardens in which the rich people walked their poodles.
He was always amazed when he reminded
himself that, not only could he afford to live in one of these places,
but he could probably buy them out. It gave him a sense of liberty, but
at the same time he felt restricted by his old life. The hovel in which
he currently resided had been the end of one life and the beginning of
another. He had gone from one life of darkness to the next, from death
and war and mutilation on one end to loneliness and despair and destitution
on the other. He had traveled back to this world to which he had thought
he would never return, to this world that for so many years had treated
him with cruelty and cold indifference. It was where he belonged, now.
Out of the spotlight. Out of the hair of everyone whom he had caused misery
and pain. Awash in a sea of people who didn’t know him or particularly
care about him, as long as he paid his rent. That was where he belonged.
He longed for that kind of life, so he ran. He had run all the way to
this world just to become famous again. It seemed his lot in life to be
famous, but he was determined not to live like it. He didn’t deserve to
live like it. And he didn’t want to.
As a celebrity, he was expected to
buy one of those huge flats in the city; he was
expected to have a dog and a wife and kids and drugs that he abused for
the sake of publicity. To get out of jail with his influence. To live
a normal celebrity life. Which is why he didn’t. He had destroyed their
perceptions of celebrity when they couldn’t find him, couldn’t watch him
day and night or send love letters or hate mail to his home address. Because
none of them would ever think to look for him in a fallen down shack.
He liked it that way, and intended to keep it so. He had never lived up
to people’s expectations as a celebrity in his youth and found old habits
to die hard.
The coffee shop that Evan frequented
was located on the intersection of two prosperous streets. It signaled
the end of the rich residential area and the beginning of a wealthy shopping
district. Edgar Allen’s was a traditional coffee haus; a place,
where, by day, the rich women stopped for a rest after walking their dogs
in the park and sipped lattes to trendy recorded piano music, and by night
the university students staged beat poets and local bands. The bohemian-wannabe
youth gathered there and ignored frothy cappuccino mugs the size of Lake
Eerie to socialize and listen to music.
Evan loved to come here right about
this time of evening—about six o’clock—as the well-to-do women left to
direct their kitchen staff to dinner and the younger crowd filtered in.
Not being too late at night, smaller children—well, ages ranging from
about eleven to seventeen—would come and lounge in the comfortable couches
and armchairs to talk, play games, and, during the school year, do homework.
There was even a fireplace that crackled merrily from across the kitchens.
It had taken Evan a good three years to realize exactly why he loved it
Now, as he entered the spacious yet
inviting shop, an almost empty room greeted him. As the summer season
came to an end, it was too hot and muggy for many people to want a cup
of steamy coffee, especially right at dinnertime. Evan knew that it would
probably be another hour or so before the beatniks set up their drums
and the university crowd drifted in.
The sweet aroma of freshly ground
caffeinated bliss took him over as Evan approached the counter and ordered
a tall black coffee. He took a seat in one of two squashy armchairs facing
each other by the window. Slowly he prised the lid from the paper cup
and took a long, decadent swallow, savoring every drop as the steamy bitter
liquid coursed down his throat. Surely this was what life was all about.
Evan set his coffee down, momentarily forgetting it, and flipped his notebook
open to the abandoned project of earlier that afternoon.
Jenny flung open the door to
her ninth-floor apartment and slammed it behind her, not caring that it
was past two in the morning or if old Mrs. Jenkins down the hall lost
a minute or two of beauty sleep. It had been a terrible night. Due to
her “accident”, she had been given special permission to come to work
at odd hours, often arriving at seven or eight in the evening after everybody
had left, and leaving early in the morning, before even the neighbourhood
bakers awoke to start the morning bread. She often passed down badly reputed
streets at horrid hours of the morning, and had seen the beggar who had
tried to rob her many times. An agreement of sorts had been worked out,
or so she thought. If she didn’t call the cops on him, he left her alone.
The same went for all of the other homeless folk on those streets. She
was as regular there as they were. He must have been exceptionally drunk
Evan was startled out of his writing
as he noticed several things. First, a redheaded woman had just sat herself
down across the shop from him and was now reading a book. His book, in
fact; his latest. He knew that it was his latest because he could see
his name printed on the cover from across the spacious shop. For the release
of his sixth novel, the publishers had deemed his name more profitable
than the title or subject of his book. Therefore, EVAN JAMESON was blazoned
across three quarters of the page. The title—Carpe Diem—was printed
in tiny white letters underneath his name; the only reason he could tell
the title of the book, in fact, was because he had written it. He had
the urge to get up, go over and talk to her, get into yet another discussion
of “what the author was really trying to say with this passage”
with the unwitting redhead, when he noticed a second occurrence: a blonde
(bleached, obviously, not natural) sauntered over and lightly touched
the back of his chair, turning his attention.
“Do you mind if I sit here?” she
asked in a throaty voice. “I can’t seem to find another seat.” Evan looked
around bewilderedly at the rest of the practically empty shop, but said
nothing, grunting instead an invitation with a slight gesture of his hand.
In one graceful swoop, she sat, propped her cappuccino across from his
notebook, and pulled out, as far as he could tell by the cover, a trashy
romance novel. For several minutes she read silently, not seeming to care
at all that she had intruded on the person across from her. Evan continued
to write another word or two, but couldn’t concentrate with that blonde
woman across from him.
What if she knew who he was? Or,
even worse, what if she knew who he had been? Not in this life, but in
his past. What if she was one of them: another admirer, or even
worse, a reporter? From force of habit, he raked his hand through his
hair, causing his fringe to move. At the movement, the blonde woman glanced
up from her book and did a slight double-take. One that Evan had grown
very used to in his lifetime—both of them.
“Gosh,” she said. Oh, very innocent,
that, he thought, his suspicions still raised. “Where on Earth did
you get that awful scar?”
“Erm…car wreck,” he said evasively.
At her concerned yet bewildered look, he changed the subject. “Nice weather
we’re having, isn’t it?”
She arched an overly-plucked eyebrow
and gave a sardonic smile. “Sure, if you like the rainforest without the
plants. Personally, I think it makes my hair a bit frizzy. What’s with
the notebook, anyway? You look too old for a university student. My name
is Deborah, by the way. You can call me Debbie if you like.” She reached
a delicately manicured hand across the small table; he took it lightly.
“Well, Debbie,” he said easily, suddenly
slipping from his shy, unassuming nature, to one of those suave characters
in his books. One of those that usually ended up dead in his universe.
But, boy was it fun. “I’m Evan. I guess you could say that I’m an aspiring
writer. I like to write things down in my notebook. It isn’t as permanent
as when you see the work in print, I guess you could say. You can always
erase the pencil. And it has a more personal touch. I don’t know,” he
shrugged slightly. “I guess it sounds silly out loud, but it makes perfect
sense to me.”
“Well, Evan, you’ll have
to get yourself a new name if you want to be a writer,” she said with
another one of those coy, saucy smiles. He threw her a politely questioning
glance, though he knew what she was probably going to say. It was a common
joke that he heard when he was caught writing in public. “Everybody already
knows that Evan Jameson has cornered that market. Maybe you should use
a flashier…what’s it called, you know…when someone pretends to be someone
“No, that’s not it. A pet name or
“Oh. Whatever. Anyway, you should
get something flashier than that Evan Jameson bloke. He’s really overblown,
“Really?” he smiled. “How so?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I haven’t actually
read any of his books, but everyone says that he’s so mysterious
and all that rubbish. I think that there’s better reasons to read books
than just because you’ve never seen the bloke. And all those rumors, you
know, about the scars and stuff in all those books he writes,” she lowered
her voice and leaned conspiratorially closer. “They say that he’s psychotic.”
Evan stifled a snigger and looked
at the girl as if he were genuinely surprised and interested. My character
would play with her a bit, he thought. And then take her off to
her flat, have sex with her, and never see her again. That’s what Christoph
would do anyway, or Quentin. Of course, that was usually in the line of
pulling off some secret spy mission or another. And, he sighed inwardly.
And that was fiction. This is reality. Still, I can play with
her a bit. I just won’t go too far.
He leaned closer in to her as well,
mimicking her hushed tone. “Is that so? Psychotic, you say?”
She nodded deliciously, as if savoring
a luscious treat: the further defamation of an innocent man’s character.
“Stark raving mad. Probably why he doesn’t want to be seen by people.
He’s running from the loony bin, you know. They’ve been trying to catch
him for years, now. He has to hide in a different safe house every night,
sort of like that Hitler fellow. He’s just trying to get enough money
with his books to buy them off so they’ll leave him alone.” She nodded
with complete certainty, as if this was accepted scientific fact.
This time, in character or not,
he couldn’t help himself; he let a huge guffaw. “You’re mad, woman! You
should be in the bloody loony bin! How do you figure all that, anyway?”
The woman looked slightly hurt, but didn’t seem to be entirely put off.
She began to say something in her defense, but Evan didn’t hear her. He
was suddenly aware of that woman again, the redhead across the shop. She
had lowered her book, his book, and was now staring at him with
a look of sudden, unmistakable recognition in her face, no doubt attracted
by his raucous laugh. The worst part was, he shared the recognition. No,
it can’t be her. Not after all this time, not like this. Not her.
Quickly, feigning that he hadn’t
noticed the redhead, with a tone as nonchalant as he could muster, he
turned to his blonde counterpart. “Would you like to get out of here,
grab a bite to eat?” Before she could answer yes or no, he lightly took
her by the elbow and guided her out of the building, giving her just enough
time to gather her trashy romance novel and purse before whisking out
of the shop, ignoring the indignant stare that followed them from the
direction of the redhead.
Several hours later, Evan lay alone
in his grungy apartment building, reflecting on the afternoon’s events.
After he left the café with Debbie, they had made their way to a trendy,
expensive restaurant of her choosing. They had ordered appetizers and
their small talk found its way back to careers.
“What do you do with yourself, then?”
he had asked, trying to keep conversation up. She had been less than pleased
when he had hurried her away from the coffee shop, and was hoping that
she would soon forget if she could talk about herself for long enough.
It seemed to be working.
“I…” she had paused, as if trying
to remember a rehearsed speech. “I’m an acquisition manager for an estate
just north of here,” she said, finally.
had thought. She’s one of those rich wives who spend all day “acquiring”
expensive goods while her husband spends all day slaving to earn the money
that she throws away. I wonder how often she picks up random men in cafés?
Outwardly, however, he just smiled politely and did not question
further, instead letting the job description linger in the air and drifting
off into the recesses of his own universe. This silence seemed to make
Debbie uncomfortable, so she pressed on to him.
“So, what do you do with yourself
when you’re not aspiring to write?” she had asked, her fingers lightly
tracing invisible circles over the table, occasionally brushing innocently
against Evan’s. He might have found this very exciting if his mind had
not been back at the coffee shop, where the redhead sat with his book.
The evening ended right then, as he was first caught not paying rapt attention
to her. She had had to snap her fingers in front of his face several times
before he came back to himself and then had to have the question repeated.
The fingers had stopped their seductive sketching on the table and were
now clacking away impatiently. When Evan answered that he was a night
janitor at a local law firm, the blonde had, without another word, left
the restaurant as suddenly as she had appeared at the café. He had paid
and left without a single regret.
Presently, a buzzing noise brought
him out of his memories. Where on Earth was that coming from? It stopped.
He let a sigh of relief when, to his annoyance, the buzzing started up
again. After a full minute of this, he finally realized that somebody
was ringing the intercom from down below, wanted his permission to come
up to his flat. Nobody had ever, in his full nine years of living in that
hovel, wanted to gain access to his flat. He located the intercom on the
wall next to the door (hmm, never noticed that before!)
and pressed the little white button, leaning forward and yelling into
“YES?!” Oops. Too loud.
“Umm…Evan Jameson?” The voice that
answered back was feminine, hesitant. Familiar.
A pause. Who could possibly know
that he was here? Who he was? “…Who wants to know?”
“I…I found your notebook. At the
café?” Another pause. She must be expecting him to answer. None came to
his lips. “Umm…it…the notebook…said to bring it here if it was lost.”
Another pause. She was waiting for an answer. He was thinking. Indeed,
he wrote his name and address on all his notebooks in case they were lost.
He had never lost one before; he usually didn’t want to risk a fanatic
finding out who he was and where he lived. He was usually very paranoid
about that. In fact, in all the hubbub of the afternoon, he hadn’t even
realized that he’d left it. Why did that voice sound so familiar? Finally,
“Are you there?” He’d forgotten about her.
“Yes, yes. I’m here,” Best to
end it now, before something bad happens. “Thank you so very much
for your kindness. You can leave it on the mat. I’ll get it later,” he
said dismissively. The conversation is over. Leave me alone.
“Begging your pardon, but I…well,
I’m a very big fan of yours, and I did go an hour or two out of my way
to get this notebook to you…” Another pause. She must have expected him
to cotton on right then. He didn’t. “…And, well, I was wondering, if it
wouldn’t be too much trouble, if you would consider coming down yourself?”
“I’m very sorry about the inconvenience.
You could have mailed it to me, you know. Please, just leave it on the
stoop.” He winced at his tone of voice, cold and indifferent. Was this
what hermitdom had done to him over the years? Made him bitter and uncaring
towards a kind woman?
Her answer sounded strained, probably
choked with tears. “Now I know why you live like this.” Another pause,
this time for dramatic effect. “You’re a horrible man and nobody wants
to be around you! How can anybody so cruel write so beautifully? This
is what I think about your work!!” A ripping noise. This was not good.
He was dumbfounded, and a panic of
what might be happening to his story filled him. “Please, I’m sorry,”
he begged. “Don’t cry, please! Come upstairs. I…I don’t know what I was
thinking. All these years…I’m just not used to people anymore. Just…come
up.” He felt a cold dread clamp on his heart as soon as he said it. Why?
He had just had perfectly good conversation with that…that…Debbie earlier
that afternoon. He had, of course, just been playing with her, but why
would he care so much more about this mysterious woman? Why would this
be so much different? Why was his heart beating like that? Why did
her voice sound so familiar? It can’t be…
There were muffled steps on the stairs,
gradually getting louder. They stopped right outside of his door, pausing
awkwardly, hesitantly. Finally, she knocked lightly. He sat on the edge
of his couch, debating whether or not to open the door. He could hide.
That was silly, though. Just plain childish. She knew he was up here;
there was no way out now. He walked slowly to the door, sure that she
could hear his steps just as he heard hers. Hmm, he thought. The
paint is peeling. I should repaint the door.
She knocked again, a bit more impatiently
this time. He undid the chain and drew back the bolt. This was it. The
door creaked as it opened, and Evan suddenly had to fight the urge to
faint, or throw up, or both. Luckily, he did neither.
“It’s you!” they both cried. Her
auburn hair dangled free, covering the side of her face, covering it.
“Harry!” The tears poured down her
cheeks as she rushed forward and grabbed him around the waist in a tight
hug. “God, I knew it was you! I knew it! How could you? How could you
do this to us? How could you leave us like that? We were so worried! Mum’s
going to kill you when she sees you again!” She looked up into his eyes,
all of those thoughts burning into him from those liquid brown eyes, but
as she did so, a lock of hair fell away from her right cheek, exposing
a light pink scar from her temple to her cheekbone. A curse scar. What
had done. Why he lived his life like
this. Why he ran away. How could he own up to that? How could act like
nothing had happened?
“I…” he gulped. “I don’t know what
you’re talking about. I don’t know this Harry that you are speaking of.”
He tried to impassively pry the crying redhead from his chest, to pretend
that he didn’t want more than anything for her just to hold on to him
like that. “Please, leave, miss. This is very inappropriate.” This was
killing him. Why? Why fight? Why was he even trying? What was wrong with
him? She knew…they both knew that it was a lie…why try, when giving
in was so easy?
Her head snapped up, anger burning
now in those beautiful eyes of hers. “You…you don’t…” She seemed as though
she were trying to swallow something very large whole. “You don’t know?
You…little…git. It’s here, Harry! I saw you! You saw me! I know it, and
so do you! IT’S RIGHT HERE!” She waved the notebook that had been concealed
in her bag in his face. “IT’S RIGHT HERE, YOU STUPID GIT! Would you care
to read it, or would you like me to? I’d be very happy to enlighten you.”
“Please, don’t. Please, I don’t know
what you’re talking about. Please, Ginny, don’t say it.”
“He would pay,” she recited.
“Ginny clenched her fists. Yes, Harry Potter would pay for the
lives he had destroyed.” She looked back at him, clearly seething.
“I’m sorry. Is there some point that I missed where THIS IS NOT BLOODY
YOU, HARRY?” The tears streamed down her face unchecked; the sobs wracked
her body so that she had to sit to keep from collapsing. Slowly the sobs
ebbed and became soft whimpers. She looked at him with eyes like brown
pools and said softly, “You did destroy our lives, Harry. Not by anything
you did in the war, but by leaving us. I don’t know what you were running
from, but we all died the day you left. We always thought that you were
so strong, so brave, but now I know what a coward you are.” She picked
herself off the floor and straightened herself, walking calmly towards
him. For a moment he thought that she was going to strike him, but instead
she did something that hurt much, much worse. She reached up and lightly
brushed back his fringe, touching that accursed scar on his forehead.
“This is you, Harry.” Then she left.
Evan didn’t know what was wrong.
He wanted to run to her, to hold her, to reclaim his former life, but
he couldn’t. He had seen them; the wounds that he inflicted on her, both
physically and mentally. War was hell, but the aftermath was even worse.
He couldn’t move or speak, or stop her as she walked out the door. She
left the notebook, open to that page, to that passage, laying on the floor.