Home > Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5)(3)

Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5)(3)
Author: Gayle Forman

Willem tells Allyson about only just finding out about the letter’s existence last month, trying to track it down, and only yesterday finding out what it said.

“How is that possible?” Allyson asks. “I got the letter back four days ago.”

“You got it back?” Willem asks. “How?”

“When I went to your house. Your old house, in Utrecht.”

Broodje’s place, on Bloemstraat, where he’d spent the dark days following his return from Paris, healing from the beating, from everything, really.

“How did you know to go there?” he asks. “To Bloemstraat.” He hadn’t lived there when they’d met, and he hadn’t given her any contact information. This was something he had regretted.

Allyson is embarrassed now, at the lengths she went through to find him. She doesn’t regret going through them, but she understands how overzealous it might look. In her discomfort, she starts to pull her feet away. But Willem won’t let her. He holds them fast. And this small gesture gives her the courage to tell him. About venturing to Paris. About tracking down Céline. About going to the Hôpital Saint-Louis. About Dr. Robinet and his kindness. The address, which led her back to the house in Utrecht. And to the letter.

“I kept the letter. I actually have it in my backpack.”

She leans over and pulls out a creased envelope. She hands it to Willem. There are generations of addresses here. Tor’s house in Leeds, the original Guerilla Will headquarters (how had she found that?), forwarded to Willem’s former houseboat in Amsterdam, since sold, and forwarded on to Bloemstraat.

“You can read it if you want,” Allyson offers.

“Seems beyond the point,” Willem says. Though that isn’t why he doesn’t want to read it. Tor had instructed someone to email him and tell him what the letter said. He doesn’t have the stomach to read the whole letter in front of Allyson.

But Allyson takes the envelope back, unfolds the letter inside of it, and hands it to him.

Dear Willem:

I’ve been trying to forget about you and our day in Paris for nine months now, but as you can see, it’s not going all that well. I guess more than anything, I want to know, did you just leave? If you did, it’s okay. I mean it’s not, but if I can know the truth, I can get over it. And if you didn’t leave, I don’t know what to say. Except I’m sorry that I did.

I don’t know what your response will be at getting this letter, like a ghost from your past. But no matter what happened, I hope you’re okay.

The letter is not what he thought it would be. Not what Tor suggested it was. It takes Willem a moment to find his voice again, and when he does, he speaks to the Allyson who wrote the letter as much as to the girl sitting here. “I didn’t just leave,” he says. “I’m glad you didn’t forget. And I wasn’t okay.”

“I know that now,” she says. “I think part of me knew it then, too but I wasn’t brave enough to believe it. I was okay that day but I wasn’t okay generally. I am now.”

Willem folds the letter, carefully, like it is sacred text. “I am, too.”

He hands the letter back to Allyson. She shakes her head. “I wrote it to you.”

He knows exactly where he will keep it. With the photo of him and Yael and Bram from his eighteenth birthday. With the photo of Saba and Saba’s sister, Willem’s great aunt Olga, who, like this letter, he only recently discovered had existed. This letter from Allyson will join the important things, thought lost, now found.

“I still don’t understand,” Willem says. “I went to the house on Bloemstraat last month and the letter wasn’t there.”

“That’s weird,” Allyson says. “Saskia and Anamiek never mentioned seeing you.”

“Who are they?” Willem asks.

“They live there.”

“Ahh. Well, I didn’t meet them. I let myself in with my key.”

Allyson laughs. “That explains it. They didn’t know you, either, though they knew of you. And also . . .” She pauses and then forces herself to finish. “Ana Lucia.”

“Ana Lucia?” Willem asks. He has not thought much about her since their spectacular blowout before Christmas last year. “What about Ana Lucia?”

“I met her.”

“You met Ana Lucia?”

Allyson remembers the girl’s fury. Another student at Ana Lucia’s college had told Allyson that Willem had been cheating on Ana Lucia with a French girl all along. When she’d heard that, it had seemed to confirm everything bad Allyson suspected about him.

“How did that go? Willem asks.

“Well, she didn’t punch me.”

Willem winces. “She wasn’t so happy to see you,” he says.

“I didn’t get it. I’d never even met her before.”

“You have. A bit.”

Allyson shakes her head. “No. I think I’d remember.”

“In Paris. In the Latin Quarter.”

Allyson’s mind spins and lands on the carousel of postcards that she had pretended to look at while Willem chatted with some girls he’d known from home. Ana Lucia was one of them?

“But why would she hate me?” Allyson asks, remembering her own jealousy at any girl Willem seemed vaguely interested in. But jealousy was one thing. Ana Lucia had literally thrown Allyson out of her dorm room.

“Because she caught me buying the airplane tickets to find you.”

Airplane tickets? Find me where? Allyson mind scrambles to incorporate this new information. It still doesn’t make sense. Willem had gone to Spain to meet the French girl he’d been cheating on Ana Lucia with. Allyson had suspected it was Céline, even though Céline had told Allyson she had not seen Willem since the day he was with Allyson in Paris. At the time, Allyson had believed her.

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