“I didn’t know love could leave the lights on all the time,” Beth had said that night. “I thought it took more naps. Or blinked. I didn’t know it could just go on and on like this without falling off an edge. Like pi.”
That night, Lincoln had asked what kind of pie. His brain had been short-circuited on love and exhaustion and unable to process her words. But now, at this Halloween party, maybe he understood.
The furniture of their apartment looked fuzzy in the low light, and music drifted over and under the mumble of voices. The room was full vampires and ghosts—and two Wolverines—but all of it dissolved into white noise when his eyes met Beth's.
This was it. It was all-consuming, seemingly endless; it was pi. Going on and on, but never repeating. Each day together was new and old, adventurous yet warm and familiar.
Sometimes Lincoln caught himself trying to compare it to what he had had with Sam, but it always left him feeling traitorous and confused. He threw out the notebook.
Still, though, it clung to him. Sam crept inside some of his happiest moments. She was a puzzle he hadn’t figured out, ten years later. And then, somewhere inside him, the last piece shifted into place. He and Sam had been a foregone conclusion. She was a steamroller, and he had lain down on the pavement to be crushed. Maybe he’d always known that, deep down, but that hadn’t made it hurt any less.
He wondered if Beth thought about Chris that way. She’d certainly never had any illusions about him becoming a dentist. His emotional unavailability, however, had been somewhat of a surprise. Beth had wondered if she knew that, too, from the start, and set herself up for the pain. But Lincoln knew what it was like. Beth was an optimist, not a masochist.
She smiled at him now, and walked over to squeeze his hand. This, Lincoln thought, was the irrational number of relationships. They had no expiration date. So it wasn’t so much that he never knew the word for it, but that he didn’t know it could exist.
“It is like pi,” Lincoln murmured into her hair. They listened to snatches of conversation.
Christine was talking to his mom about the horror of processed foods. Eve gave Jennifer advice on how to deal with a grumpy toddler. So many things had changed when their worlds collided, but everything important was still the same.
When he held her close, Lincoln didn’t wish he could cover her like a hand grenade. When they kissed, he didn’t miss bending down. And later, after they picked up paper plates and red Solo cups, there wasn’t anyone he would rather fall into bed exhausted with.