Chapter 19 - This Bird Has Flown

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Marisol slept like she been drugged. The room was still dark when she awoke, but she knew immediately she was alone. If Paul were still here he'd have a leg or an arm thrown over her, his weight on her somewhere. She dragged a hand over the cold sheets next to her, then fumbled for the bedside lamp.

On the pillow next to her was a note written on hotel stationery.

Your holiday may be over, but our story continues. I'll be here. Until next time— Paul xxx

Underneath the note was one of Brian Epstein's business cards.

She stared at Paul's writing until tears filled her eyes. That was it, then. She hadn't even said goodbye to him, really. It had always seemed that there would be another chance. Why had he left without waking her up? Maybe he'd wanted to avoid the whole goodbye scene. Her shoulders slumped as she sat on the edge of the bed, tears hot on her cheeks. At the foot of the bed she noticed one of Paul's white T-shirts, evidently left behind when he dressed in the dark to avoid waking her. She pressed it to her face, breathing in his scent, then folded it carefully and placed it in her bag along with Paul's goodbye note and Brian's card.

Then she picked up the telephone and waited for a hotel operator. She had just enough time to go back to Margo's flat, finish packing, and hug the twins one more time. In another four hours she'd be winging her way home to California, and Paul and England would be only an exquisite, bittersweet memory.

The Pan Am 707 shook violently, engines screaming, then the pilot released the brakes and the jetliner thundered down the runway, easing off the ground ever so slowly before climbing steeply into the leaden grey sky

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The Pan Am 707 shook violently, engines screaming, then the pilot released the brakes and the jetliner thundered down the runway, easing off the ground ever so slowly before climbing steeply into the leaden grey sky. Marisol watched the snow-covered city of London receding below, the size of a postcard, now a postage stamp, now nothing but miles and miles of ocean between her and America.

The British Isles disappeared behind her, sunlight glinting off silver wings and streaming into the airplane cabin. The gold bracelet Paul had brought her from Sweden sparkled in her lap. Colorful beetles marched around her wrist. So you won't forget me, Paul had said. As if. The very thought of him dazzled her so much that she got short of breath wanting more of it. And yet she had given him up, chosen to leave. She'd been too scared to sacrifice her family and friends, her life in California, for the remote possibility that Paul might fall in love with her one day if she stayed in England.

For most of the day she would hang suspended in an aluminum tube as the miles zoomed by below, with little to do but come to terms with that decision and all the other choices she had made over the last few months.

Staring down at the endless ocean, she had the eerie sensation of moving backwards through time, erasing everything, so that when she got home it would all be gone, only a dream, and she would return the same heartbroken girl who had just lost her fiancé. But she knew that wasn't true. She was different now—stronger, more resilient, and just the tiniest bit hopeful.

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