- Novak carried an umbrella with her everywhere for nine years. And when he asked her why, she told him, "Ever since my dad died, sometimes it feels like the sky is falling." That was six months ago, and he still catches himself checking for cracks between the clouds when it rains.
- He likes to remember her eyes. The left was blue and the right was brown, like two people in one, and faded, like old photographs. But then he remembers that old photographs are the only things she exists in now, and his office will get so small that he needs to go outside to breathe.
- He wanted to be gentle, even if he couldn't think of a way how. But things were already ruined between them, and he knew that long before he ever sat her down in his parlor. "If you have to hate me, I want you to," he said. Her face was deadened by the weight of her pain. "As long as you feel anything for me, I want you to." She shook her head. And she kept shaking it when he followed her, his bare feet in her footsteps all the way to the foyer. As she turned the knob, he begged her. Please Novak, talk to me. But all she said was, "I just hope you're fucking happy," and the door slammed so hard that he couldn't hear the sound of everything breaking.
- It was the dead of night in November when she called. She called and asked him to rescue her and her bloody arms before her brother saw. "Look," he told her in the car, after. "You can't do this, okay?" He wanted to look at her, but he knew she was crying. And he knew it wasn't because of the penicillin shot. Her chin was at her knees. "I just want to be worth more than what I'm drowning in." "Novak. You are." "Not to you, I'm not," she snapped, and it was quiet for the next twenty miles.
- She was the first one to say it. "I love you, too," he whispered in the dark, breathless, as the shirt dipped off of her skin. It was something, being in love with a girl that's so vast and mysterious, like the cosmos. But it was only that: something. It wouldn't matter in a couple of months, when he'd be the one who said it first. "We need a break." And when the glow of her starry smile fell, he was left in the darkness of a galaxy with no way home.
- She took him to her father's grave in April, down by the waterfront where she had convinced him to throw lit matches in the river during their third date, so she would know he'd be a little safer that night. "My mother buried him herself. She died with the soil still under her fingernails." The headstone had grooves in it, from where the edge of the shore skimmed it. "She loved him," said Novak, "but she held on too tight." He nodded, and when the wind whispered between them, she put her head on his shoulder. And he realized that, maybe it was better to hold on too tight, before it was gone. Before it was just waste at a river bottom.
- He grabbed her hand off of the cold grass. "When was the last time you wished on a star?" The rings on her fingers rippled as she made a fist. Her head turned when he tried to kiss her, and a wing of red hair swept her cheek. "I don't." He knew he shouldn't wonder, because everything she said was so goddamned tragic that he would never be able to stop thinking about it but he asked why anyways. And she told him that she'd always be a million years too late. "Those stars are dead," she said. "Just like my dreams."
- For weeks he tried. He tried to say, "I know you're afraid" during breaks. "You don't want to get involved with me, Collin," she told him every time. And it was almost convincing, until one day he saw her fingers trembling under the faucet. "Oh." He leaned against the counter, beside her. "But maybe I do." It took nearly seven hours after their shift, under her umbrella and a spring downpour. But she said her Saturday afternoon was suddenly free, and he spent the rest of the night remembering how her jeans fell over her boots, how the denim dragged in puddles and she didn't even mind.