It Ends with Us

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“You’d get the whole roof to yourself,” he says.

I hadn’t thought of that. If I owned it I could plant gardens up there. I’d have an outlet.

“Who lives there?” he asks.

“No one really knows. It’s one of the great mysteries of Boston.”

He laughs and then looks at me inquisitively. “What’s another great mystery of Boston?”

“Your name.” As soon as I say it, I slap my hand against my forehead. It sounded so much like a cheesy pickup line; the only thing I can do is laugh at myself.

He smiles. “It’s Ryle,” he says. “Ryle Kincaid.”

I sigh, sinking into myself. “That’s a really great name.”

“Why do you sound sad about it?”

“Because, I’d give anything for a great name.”

“You don’t like the name Lily?”

I tilt my head and cock an eyebrow. “My last name . . . is Bloom.”

He’s quiet. I can feel him trying to hold back his pity.

“I know. It’s awful. It’s the name of a two-year-old little girl, not a twenty-three-year-old woman.”

“A two-year-old girl will have the same name no matter how old she gets. Names aren’t something we eventually grow out of, Lily Bloom.”

“Unfortunately for me,” I say. “But what makes it even worse is that I absolutely love gardening. I love flowers. Plants. Growing things. It’s my passion. It’s always been my dream to open a florist shop, but I’m afraid if I did, people wouldn’t think my desire was authentic. They would think I was trying to capitalize off my name and that being a florist isn’t really my dream job.”

“Maybe so,” he says. “But what’s that matter?”

“It doesn’t, I suppose.” I catch myself whispering, “Lily Bloom’s” quietly. I can see him smiling a little bit. “It really is a great name for a florist. But I have a master’s degree in business. I’d be downgrading, don’t you think? I work for the biggest marketing firm in Boston.”

“Owning your own business isn’t downgrading,” he says.

I raise an eyebrow. “Unless it flops.”

He nods in agreement. “Unless it flops,” he says. “So what’s your middle name, Lily Bloom?”

I groan, which makes him perk up.

“You mean it gets worse?”

I drop my head in my hands and nod.

“Rose?”

I shake my head. “Worse.”

“Violet?”

“I wish.” I cringe and then mutter, “Blossom.”

There’s a moment of silence. “Goddamn,” he says softly.

“Yeah. Blossom is my mother’s maiden name and my parents thought it was fate that their last names were synonyms. So of course when they had me, a flower was their first choice.”

“Your parents must be real assholes.”

One of them is. Was. “My father died this week.”

He glances at me. “Nice try. I’m not falling for that.”

“I’m serious. That’s why I came up here tonight. I think I just needed a good cry.”

He stares at me suspiciously for a moment to make sure I’m not pulling his leg. He doesn’t apologize for the blunder. Instead, his eyes grow a little more curious, like his intrigue is actually authentic. “Were you close?”

That’s a hard question. I rest my chin on my arms and look down at the street again. “I don’t know,” I say with a shrug. “As his daughter, I loved him. But as a human, I hated him.”

I can feel him watching me for a moment, and then he says, “I like that. Your honesty.”

He likes my honesty. I think I might be blushing.

We’re both quiet again for a while, and then he says, “Do you ever wish people were more transparent?”

“How so?”

He picks at a piece of chipped stucco with his thumb until it breaks loose. He flicks it over the ledge. “I feel like everyone fakes who they really are, when deep down we’re all equal amounts of screwed up. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others.”

Either his high is setting in, or he’s just very introspective. Either way, I’m okay with it. My favorite conversations are the ones with no real answers.

“I don’t think being a little guarded is a negative thing,” I say. “Naked truths aren’t always pretty.”

He stares at me for a moment. “Naked truths,” he repeats. “I like that.” He turns around and walks to the middle of the rooftop. He adjusts the back on one of the patio loungers behind me and lowers himself onto it. It’s the kind you lie on, so he pulls his hands behind his head and looks up at the sky. I claim the one next to him and adjust it until I’m in the same position as him.

“Tell me a naked truth, Lily.”

“Pertaining to what?”

He shrugs. “I don’t know. Something you aren’t proud of. Something that will make me feel a little less screwed up on the inside.”

He’s staring up at the sky, waiting on me to answer. My eyes follow the line of his jaw, the curve of his cheeks, the outline of his lips. His eyebrows are drawn together in contemplation. I don’t understand why, but he seems to need conversation right now. I think about his question and try to find an honest answer. When I come up with one, I look away from him and back up to the sky.


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