Home > Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5)(11)

Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5)(11)
Author: Gayle Forman

“That makes no sense whatsoever,” W says.

Except that even W—mathematical, logical, analytical W—somewhere understands that it does.

• • •

The night goes on. Pitchers of beer. Bottles of wine. The novelty of the Allyson-Willem hunt takes a backseat to more prosaic matters. Soccer. The weather. There is a debate about what Wren and Winston should do tomorrow. Allyson tries not to think about leaving tomorrow.

It’s not that hard, because Willem’s hand has snuck under the table where for the last hour, it has been playing lightly on the birthmark on her wrist. (Allyson never knew her wrist had so many nerve endings. Allyson’s wrist has turned to jelly. Allyson can’t really think of much except for Willem’s hand, her wrist, except perhaps for the other places she’d like his hand to go. Meanwhile, both her feet are now completely wrapped around his right ankle. She has no idea what that is doing to him.)

Wolfgang gets up to leave first. He has to work tomorrow, not so early, because it is Sunday, but early enough. He kisses Allyson good-bye. “I have a sense I will see you again.”

“Me, too.” Allyson has a feeling she’s coming back to Amsterdam. She’ll have to get a job on campus, pull double shifts at Café Finlay during school breaks to afford the ticket. The thought of coming back makes her happy, but she can’t really think about the year of not being here. So she doesn’t. She just concentrates on her wrist, the little circles Willem is drawing, which are reverberating through her body in ever-growing waves, like when a pebble is tossed into a pond.

Kate and David, who have been doing their share of under-the-table canoodling, use Wolfgang’s departure to make their own excuses. There are hasty kisses good-bye.

Before she leaves, Kate says to Willem: “I’ll be in touch on Monday. We’ll have to start working on your visa paperwork right away, but we can get it expedited and probably have you out for October.”

“Definitely,” David says.

Willem has known since yesterday, since before he even asked Kate if he could join up with Ruckus, that this was the right thing, that it would happen, but now with David’s enthusiastic support, it has become very real.

“What visa paperwork?” W asks after Kate and David leave. Dutch nationals don’t need visas for tourist trips to the States.

At that moment, Allyson snaps out of her wrist-related haze (maybe because Willem has stopped caressing her wrist).

Willem has not had time to tell anyone about his apprenticeship with Ruckus, not his friends whom he will leave behind, and not Allyson, for whom the move has different implications. Which is maybe why he feels so nervous now. He isn’t sure how she might react. He doesn’t want her to feel pressured, like the move means he has expectations. (He has hopes, of course, especially now that he knows how close she is to where he will be, but hopes are different from expectations.)

Willem doesn’t realize he’s left them all hanging until Broodje says, “What’s going on, Willy?”

“Ahh, nothing. No, not nothing. Something big, actually.” The faces are expectant, even those of Wren and Winston, people he did not know of until tonight. “Kate and David run a theater company in New York City, and I’m going to be an apprentice there.”

“What does that mean?” Henk asks.

“I’ll train with them, build sets, do whatever is needed, and eventually, perhaps, perform. It’s a Shakespearean theater company.” He looks at Allyson now. “I forgot to tell you that.”

He forgot to tell her everything. He was terrified to. He is terrified now. The ominous silence hanging over the table isn’t helping. And Allyson having unraveled her feet from his ankle really isn’t helping.

Maybe they aren’t so in sync. Maybe what for him is good news, a reason to hope, is just too much too soon for her.

He vaguely hears people around the table offering congratulations.

But he can’t process it. He is looking at Allyson.

And Allyson is not congratulating him. She is crying.

• • •

Allyson sees Willem’s face, his panic, and she knows he is misreading her. But she is helpless to explain right now. Words have left her. She is emotion only.

And it is too much. Not Willem moving to American, not Willem moving a bus ride away from her. It’s that this happened at all. How it happened.

Allyson has to say something. Willem is looking so upset. The table is so quiet. The restaurant is quiet. It seems like all of Amsterdam is holding its breath for them.

“You’re moving to New York?” she says. She keeps it together for an entire sentence before her voice cracks and she dissolves into tears again.

It’s Winston who gently touches Willem on the shoulder. “Maybe you two should go now.”

Willem and Allyson nod, dazed. They offer halfhearted farewells. (It doesn’t matter; good-byes with these two aren’t to be trusted anyhow) and leave amid promises from Wren to call in the morning and Broodje to crash at W and Lien’s place tonight.

• • •

Silently, they walk to the bike racks outside in the narrow alleyway. Willem is desperately trying to think of something to say. He could tell her he doesn’t have to go. Except he does have to go.

This isn’t about her. It was catalyzed by her, and she’s woven up in it, but this is ultimately about him and his life and what he needs to do to make himself whole. He’s stopped drifting, he’s stopped being tossed around by the wind.

But he doesn’t have to see her. It doesn’t mean that. He’d like it to mean that. But it doesn’t have to.

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