She's found that when you leave no one will come to find her.

She'll sit.

On a bench, in a park, at the beach, in the top most left hand corner of a cold, steel amphitheater, behind the racks of too-small, over-priced, rainbow colored skinny jeans. In a box, on a hill, on a roof overlooking a crowed city and those specters who slip and slide and inhabit each nook and cranny and precious little space that's sometimes called home. Under a gray old bed, between the folds of an over-sized unabridged dictionary, tucked into a mothers dead great-aunts purple wood rocking chair with that flower quilt that the dead great aunt of a mother that no one ever really knew quilted. In an empty classroom, and empty car, and empty house. Nursing a glass of scotch and covered in a barley-used blanket in a barley-used bed watching a movie on a barley-used TV in a barley-used room in a barley-used house in a barely-used world.

They'll forget her, than. They say how important she is and how much they need her but they always, always leave her behind. She cannot remember why. She cannot remember when it had stated. But she does remember the first time she'd been with them all, her friends, and she'd looked away and saw how easy it'd be to just slip away, slide into a car, drive away, and never come back.

"Where've you been? We missed you."

It came from that boy – the one whom is popular and missed and noticed – he's him, hair like royalty and eyes like the warm brown glass of earth she keeps in her room, and years too young, (though it's just one year); he is kind and he is sweet and they are going to eat him alive, out there, she knows it -

"I don't think you ever have."

Her voice is dry and scathing and she can't help but ignore the glances from the other around and (for a moment that slips and kneels and gnaws at her, years after) she remembers that they really do care.

He quiets, that boy, and she wonders why she feels as though she's lost something. The pause covers a multitude of sins and secrets, and her mouth tastes like pennies and acid.

He sighs, combs his hands through his hair. Breath, than a sigh again; it is cynical and dry, the way she notices – ribs expand, lips part slightly as the breath skates through them, a swallow, a blink, and a breath.

(She remembers – he' fallen and she had carefully put his glasses back on for him. He'd given her a crooked smile and confessed that he sometimes wished he'd had an older brother)

"You'd be surprised how ofter I missed you."

It's soft, not meant to be said – what ever he means, it's fragile – it won't stand up to the scrutiny of the others around and it cuts and burns and eats her pen and it's just -

She turns around and backs away ad walks and in her mind she's already bought the plane ticket and packed her bags -

She thinks he yells something like stop running away and why can't he understand that it was never her running away because how an she come back if she was never there in the first place -

The sun winks at her from the sky and oh, the secrets they would spill on the grass, if only they could.

She thinks she hears him yell (don't let me lose you)

.

.

.

She came to New York with nothing but five hundred dollars.

She lives.

And it's twelve years to the day when they all had been friends in a backwards school in the west coast and sat together and awkwardly held hands and read absolutely nothing and maybe even kissed in the heat of summer and ten years and a bit since it all started falling apart and nine years since she left and the others just broke behind her, because how could we not see? and now, now he has her address clutched in his hands and is leaning against the brick wall across the street from where she lives; a wall that makes up a theater whose neon sign says "where the great come to pretend." and he's hesitant.

They hadn't forgotten her, they missed her, like he said, not that she had been around to cae. But he cared and he couldn't let that go, so he found where she was and -

She's walking out and she's smiling (and her smile is still the same – it punches him in the gut and grabs him by the groin) and she looks right at him and it's been a minute and she's still staring, eyes fixed and fearful and a little angry and there is no trust at all in her eyes and that hurts.

But than she asks, "who are you?" and that hurts more.

.

.

.

It's a heart skip and two beats later; he's sitting in her kitchen.

.

.

.

(it's been nine years)

(Come back with you? Are you just gonna stay?)

At least here I'm somebody

It's been nine years – nine years (and she so enjoys telling him it, seeing the pained look on his face)

.

.

.

And he smiles, because he hates New York and he misses the west coast already but this is her home.