Alex Fletcher's Not So Infinite Playlist: "I think I'm gonna be sad, I think it's today, yeah, The girl that's driving me mad Is going away"--John Lennon, "Ticket to Ride"
"It's just two weeks. I'll be back before you know it." Sophie reached out to rub Alex's shoulder. "Besides, think how much composing you'll get done without me there, talking all the time."
"Right. I'll probably have an entire symphony written by the time you return." He spoke with a briskness Sophie knew him well enough to recognize as at least partly assumed, and her heart melted at how hard he was trying.
This would be their longest time apart since becoming a couple, just over a year ago. But her parents had given her an incredible gift last Christmas: two weeks at First Pages, an exclusive Bay Area writers' retreat. There'd be workshops and guest speakers, as well as long, peaceful interludes in which people could write and create undisturbed. She just couldn't pass it up--and Alex would never have asked her to.
The intercom sounded then, announcing the imminent departure of her flight and advising passengers to start boarding.
"I'd better get going," Sophie said, slipping her purse strap over her shoulder.
"Then I'll see you off." Alex picked up her carry-on before she could stop him. Together, they made their way to the gate.
Once there, Alex set down the carry-on and drew her to him, ignoring the stares of curious onlookers. "Okay. Here's one for the road, darling." Cupping her face, he covered her mouth with his in a deep, lingering kiss that she felt all the way down to her toes.
"Wow," Sophie said, somewhat breathlessly, after he released her. She knew Alex could kiss, but this had been exceptional, even for him. "Keep that up, and I'm definitely going to miss my flight."
"Can't have that, can we?" He stepped back, managed a smile. "Mind you, that was just to ensure that you'll miss me like a major appendage for the next two weeks."
Sophie swallowed, her eyes stinging suddenly. "Babe, I already do."
His eyes glinted. "Good. I'll leave it up to your lurid writer's imagination to decide which appendage."
So she was laughing instead of crying when she got on the plane and strapped herself in for the long six-hour flight to San Francisco.
Alex stayed until the plane had taken off, then left the airport without a backward glance. He did not think--he would not think--about another partner, whom he'd also loved, who had gone away and never come back.
Day 1: Welcome To First Pages!
Session 1. Identity and Empowerment: Finding Your Voice as a Writer
Session 2. The Voice Within: How to Deal with Your Inner Critic