“I braved a hundred storms to leave you
As hard as you try, no, I will never be knocked down”
-“Turning Tables” by Adele
Afterwards, all she knew was the fight had been loud. Adeline had known it was coming, felt it as she watched the thunderheads thicken and darken through the window. She felt as if they were gathering in her gut, threatening to drown her inside herself. As she packed her books in her worn leather backpack, they simmered. When she got in her car, they felt more like hail stones, dropping low in her belly and resting there, waiting. By the time Adeline pulled up in front of the apartment, the storm’s claws had curled like a vice around the vicious green sky. This is tornado weather, she thought, and didn’t only mean outdoors.
Upstairs, she fumbled with the key and cursed angrily at the broken lock. The door slammed behind her. Adeline pretended it was the wind.
“Hey, baby,” he said, and a smile that once had melted her now made her shrink away. Simon, of course, noticed. “Hey!”
Adeline had thought she could be civil, she really had (wanted to think that). But Simon’s voice and his hand, easing her backpack strap down with a sensuous touch that wanted, badly, snapped the tightrope of her politesse.
“Please, not right when I walk in the door.”
His face took on a puppy dog kind of hurt. Loathing now seemed too passive of a term. Adeline remembered why she was there. Courage coiled in the pit of her stomach.
“Actually, how about never?” Adeline started.
From there, it was over. It didn’t matter to Simon that he had slept with Adeline’s best friend the night before, it didn’t matter that she didn’t love him anymore, it didn’t matter that she’d tried to break up with him even before he became a cheating louse. Simon wanted what Simon wanted. Adeline had tried to have this conversation (fight) before, but somehow, she had never managed it. When she had discovered nature was as angry as she was, Adeline felt powerful.
When he threw a plate at her- which had never happened before- Adeline decided to cut her losses. Nothing was going to change, anyway. They were going the same place they had always been going- away from each other. She hiked her backpack up on her shoulders. There was nothing at Simon’s place she needed. Potentially, ever again.
“Wait-” he shouted as the door whipped shut. That was only partially Adeline’s fault.
Outside, the winds were intense. Adeline thought she really could see hail coming down. She darted to her car and threw the backpack in the backseat, wincing as she heard book spines impacting leather. From the driver’s seat, the weather looked deadly. A tornado was slowly swirling down from the clouds as lightning crackled around it. The rain was only faint, and blowing practically horizontally.
Adeline put the car in gear and carefully pulled out of her parking spot.
“AHHHHHHH!” She hit the brake so forcefully that a small, practical part of her mind wondered if she’d broken the pedal. “SIMON. OUT OF THE WAY.”
He stood, arms out and waving, in front of her hood. He was shouting something, but she didn’t care. She honked once, then, when he didn’t budge, laid her arm on the horn and stared him down. Simon gestured frantically to the tornado, which was approaching the overpass leading out of town. He pointed back to his building.
Adeline didn’t let off the horn. “Hell, no, Simon!” She backed her car up. Good thing this is a tiny sedan, she thought, squeezing by a SUV. Once clear of the other parallel parkers, Adeline gunned the engine, racing away from the twister down the deserted street. In her rearview mirror, she could see Simon, standing in the middle of the street. As Adeline turned the corner, hail began to pelt his neck. He lowered his arms and trudged toward his building.
Adeline honked once and sped away. Freedom was as savage as the storm, and she was just as dangerous. There would never be a way back.