This is not LH yet. Petaluma, California. Time unknown.
"Yeah, he's here," April said, pausing her pour for a second to look around. "Somewhere."
"There's a football game in the other room," Carly said. "He's probably comatose."
Kyle was there, somewhere. That was how Carly felt about him in general -- that he was there, somewhere, not quite tangible but not quite negligible either, and she didn't know what she was supposed to expect from their relationship.
In the life Carly had been written out of, her boyfriend Joe had just asked her to marry him. It was a relief, in a way, because she hadn't been sure what to say. She didn't know how to decide. She thought they loved each other, but she was also quite sure he was cheating on her, so where marriage fit into his plans boggled her mind. He had all these plans -- he had quit DJ'ing in clubs and he picked up a gig doing weddings instead. They bought a house in the suburbs together. He would change, he told her. He would be different, except she didn't believe him.
And then she was here, and he wasn't, and a weight was lifted from her. She didn't have to decide anymore. Not about Joe, anyway.
Then, from three seats down, Tyler said, "Yeah, Kyle's not really "husband" material, is he?"
And Beau said, "But he's handy -- he helped me move that fridge out of April's old apartment. And he's funny sometimes."
"No, not ugly," Beau added. "Maybe a little short."
"But not too short," Tyler said. "Not too short for Carly anyway. Hey, Carly, how tall are you?"
Carly found herself stunned, with half the bar discussing her boyfriends faults and virtues while he floated around, somewhere, standing in front of a football game, oblivious.
And when Corbin left her for a moment to use the bathroom, Carly had something to say about it.
"You're right," April whispered.
"No, I mean about this not being a dream."
April nodded. "I just have this feeling. There's something about my being here that just feels too big. It's too much. Like, if all of this was going to be in the books, then it wouldn't be happening here. And because it is happening here, that means something."
"But I thought She liked you," Carly said. "I know She likes you. It seemed like She really likes you."
"Maybe that's even worse," April said. "You know how people say, 'Sometimes The Author just needs to kill off her darlings?'" April frowned. "I think I might be a darling."
He didn't answer, just gaped at her with surprise. It annoyed her that he was so surprised.
"It's like caramel," she said. "I understand that it tastes good. I'll admit that. I understand for a lot of people, it tastes really good. But for me, it's just... okay. I mean, I'll eat it if it's there, but I never crave it. If I have the choice between caramel and something else, I think the strawberry cheesecake, or the peanut butter cup, or the coconut creme pie would probably make me happier. Do you like caramel?"
It's not because he's more confusing than he is mysterious, or that he's more childish than he is dangerous. It's not because his furniture doesn't match or lacks color, or is wicker -- though there really is no excuse for wicker furniture in any circumstance. She isn't sure if she wants to break up with him, or if she just wants to move on. Or if she just isn't sure either way.
Or if maybe he's a robot? Yes, that would explain a lot.
"We're here for a reason," she said. "Whether you believe that or not. We're not here forever. We wake up every day and all we know is that it's one less day we have left. And I think you're wonderful, and funny, and lovely, really, but I just don't feel like I know where this is going." She paused. "No, actually, I don't feel it's going anywhere."
"I spent twelve years with someone who just wanted to have fun, and I'm sorry, but I don't have another twelve years. Maybe I do want an itinerary."
"Wow," he said.
"So I think maybe we should take a little time-out."
"Is that what you want?"
"Want? I want you to feel something, and I don't think you do. And it's not that I don't think you could, I just think you're not in that place. And that's fine, if that's where you want to be. You're fine, I think, but sometimes 'fine' is just not enough."
"I... don't know what to say."
But she shook her head. She needed to stop -- if he had loved her, this wouldn't be how she'd want to find out anyway. Maybe she was still drunk, maybe it was the fight with Leila. Maybe she just needed a good sleep and a cigarette, wherever it was she might find one. Like hell if she was going to cry over this, in front of him, dissolve into a puddle of tears when he clearly didn't feel a thing.
His lips began to move, to crinkle, to churn, as if he were trying to muster up something to say. And she waited for it, seconds, a minute, two whole minutes she stood there waiting. But nothing came out. And somehow she knew it would end that way.