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All the Lovelies...

Gods. Why does this always happen around the beginning of the school year? And I know I'll probably never finish it. But it happens every year. Right along with all the back-to-school colds. It's short story season.



"You've got to let it go, man," Andrew Blythe told his best friend one night.
The only answer he got was a sigh. Alan had been sitting in the same chair for almost a week now, staring out the window of his dorm room. At first it had been pathos. Two days in, it had become pitiful. Now it was bordering on pathetic.

But no matter what anyone told him, Alan Castle just sat in his chair, staring out the window as if waiting for something. The which he was - but she wasn't coming, and everyone knew it.

A lot of people seemed to think that Marin had just taken off - Alan's girlfriend had always been unusual, unpredictable, and it took very little for people at a distance to simply assume that she had picked up and left. For all the drama surrounding Marin's disappearance, it was a normal enough sounding explanation, and one that everyone, in general, was comfortable accepting. It was certainly simpler than explaining the truth of what had really happened.

People closer to Alan knew - knew, first of all, that no one would ever do such a thing to him. No one who became close to Alan Castle did so without becoming totally devoted to him, Andrew included - he had that effect on people.. He and Alan had been best friends since sophmore year in high school, and Andrew doubted that there was anyone alive who knew Alan better than he did, excluding, possibly, Alan's parents. That said, Alan actually had very few close friends, possibly because aside from being brilliant, creative and kind, he was also rather shy, though no one would know it to look at him. It may also have had to do with the fact that Alan was generally considered to be more than a bit odd.

He talked to himself, and he jumped at loud noises, and he spent long hours sitting in the shadowed corners of brightly-lit public places, watching crowds from underneath downcast lashes. He wrote poems, and tended to scribble them on whatever surface was most convenient. Andrew had found snatches of verse inside Alan's textbooks, on napkins, once even on the wall next to his desk in magic marker. Alan had an air of depth - the casual observer looked at him and saw someone who just *knew* things. And indeed, Alan knew a little about everything. Enough so that it scared Andrew sometimes. People thought he was strange, and so kept their distance. But people who were closer knew.

They knew that Marin had not been quite what she had seemed to be.

Maybe none of them but Andrew knew quite what she *had* been, but they'd known there was something about Marin - something they couldn't quite explain, something that had made some people nervous. Something that had made them look at Marin with a kind of awe. Marin had been, if nothing else, inscrutable. No one really knew her but Alan, and maybe Andrew. And even they hardly knew her at all.

"She's not coming back."

Alan's shoulders sagged. "I know that, Andrew," he said.

"Then why do you keep staring out that window?"

Alan shrugged again.

It had been a week, but it felt like much longer.

(*sigh*)

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Chandri MacLeod
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