It's dangerous that he lives so close, but they don't bring that up.
He watches her put milk into her basket every Wednesday at 4 o'clock, like clock-work. She picks up a carton of french vanilla coffee creamer on Thursdays.
One day, he'll walk past her and say hello. She knows he's there. She knows he's watching.
But some things never change. She'll ignore anything until it forces itself to be seen.
He used to imagine he'd marry her one day, but that's not really how it works in the real world. Graduation comes and goes, and there are goodbyes, quick and sweet and the easiest things in the world on the surface.
"Is that it?" he asks her the day before her plane leaves. She got into a college out of state, though he can't remember its name — only that it's far away from Lima, far away from him.
Maybe that was the point all along.
She gives him a sad look, a pitying look, as if to scold him for being so naive. And that's kind of when he gets it, that if he was five, he'd hug her and tell her to never leave. That's what naivety is, if anything.
But he's not five anymore, and so he fucks her wordlessly and deliberately against the wall. If anything, that's what will stay on her mind. She'll get on her flight and leave with the memory of his tongue on her neck and his hands clawing her thighs.
Puck wants to be a vivid memory. He might as well remain fresh in her head.
She approaches him on a Thursday with coffee creamer in her hands.
For a moment he can only take this in, this perfect image of what he's missed out on. She hasn't changed much. Thinner, perhaps, a little taller. He imagines fucking her would feel the same, like nothing at all has changed.
"Hi." He smirks at her. "Weird seeing you again, huh?"
A red flush creeps up her neck and blossoms in her cheeks. "I'm married," she gets out at last, flashing a sparkly lump of diamond at him.
His heart skips a beat for a moment. "So am I."
She glances down at his hand, then back at him, and visibly forces her smile. "I guess that's it, then."
She arrives at his doorstep on a Friday. It's raining, and the beads of water on her skin make him think of things he shouldn't remember.
"Let me in. Is your wife home? This is a nice apartment. I was thinking of getting one with Drew."
She shivers as she steps inside and rambles on and on until he can't register exactly what she's saying, only that she's wearing a white shirt and she's soaking wet.
She looks at him. "Puck."
Something about that reminds him of something.
He thinks about it while he's fucking her, her head hitting the headboard with each thrust. He thinks about a lot of things, but mostly this. Mostly how everything comes into full circle when it comes to them.
"I missed you," she moans into his shoulder, biting down hard to stifle a cry.
Definitely a full circle.
His wife's name is Ashley. Real nice brunette he met when he was getting a degree at community college. She made him work for it, but in the end she agreed to marrying him, as long as they moved out of Lima.
He doesn't love her. But that's not really the point.
Drew works for some construction company and he's always flying across the country. Quinn married him last June and they look quite happy together in the picture on her dresser.
He thinks about it as he fucks her against the dresser.
There are a lot of things he thinks about.
He's become quite the thinker.
But mostly he wonders why he married Ashley and he wonders why Quinn married Drew. He wonders why they didn't just give up the inevitable marry each other. It wouldn't work — he could practically hear her voice in his head — but it would. It would work because it didn't.
"Maybe you just like to cheat." He trails his fingers down her shoulder and her arm, watching the goosebumps rise on her skin. "Maybe it turns you on because you know it's bad. It's not really about me, is it?"
She watches him with rapt attention. "I never cheated on you," she tries, closing her eyes and leaning into him.
He shrugs a little. He'll take that. He'll take anything.
"Admit what this is."
She licks her lips. "It's nothing. Sex."
His breath is hot against her ear.
There's something riveting about watching her. She twirls on a string, spins and spins and spins until she gets sick. She holds the whole world in her palm and never once lets it drop.
Mesmerizing. She makes angels look plain.
She doesn't turn around. She runs her hands over the picture of her and Drew on their honeymoon. "Yes?"
"I still —"
He doesn't get any farther than that. She looks at him until she looks right through him.
"What's her name?" Ashley screams at him. "Why her? Why not me?"
He thinks this is why he can't have Quinn. They hurt too many people. There's never a right time.
"I don't know."
And that's how it goes. Puck could write a story about it — The Day My Wife Discovered I'm a Cheating Whore.
But that doesn't make it better. Doesn't make it worse, either. He thinks about it as he packs some of his things. When you know someone for too long, it feels like you'll never understand what drew you to each other in the first place.
Ashley was there when Puck needed someone. His friends had moved away and flown away and cut him off from their lives. She was there and he took that. He ran with that.
Things change. People change.
She shivers as she arches her back off the sheets, curling her nails into her pillow. "No."
She shakes her head and moves his hand impatiently to the buttons on her jeans. "It doesn't matter. Puck."
He'll take it. He'll run with it.
Out of nostalgia, he does some research. It takes him weeks. Months, even. He searches and waits and searches again.
Three months later, he drops a print-out of a newspaper on her bed. She glances down from painting her toenails and drops the bottle on the bedspread.
Beth Corcaron, aged 13
There's a picture of a toothy little girl in a flower dress.
The title of the page reads Obituaries.
She screams. She beats her fists into his chest and punches pillows and kicks walls. She doesn't cry, but she screams. She lets it all out until her face is ashen white and her throat is sore.
She drops into his arms and seems to remember. She begins to cry into his left pec. "No."
He doesn't look at how she died. That's not really important.
She looks up at him and bites the inside of her cheek. "No."
"I still love you," he tries. "Always have. Always will. Until the day you stop loving me and even after that."
She shakes her head. "You can't say that."
He leans forward to capture her full attention, and she looks away from the dishes for a moment. "Why not?"
She answers him with a kiss. There's something terrible in her eyes, something lost and found. He can't quite catch it, but he can feel the sadness in her kiss, in her voice. He can't fix her. He's spent his whole life trying only to figure out the pieces were missing.
"I'm getting divorced next month."
There are times that things don't work out. High school and college and the real world are things that can't be touched. And if the world stayed static, it wouldn't be quite the same.
He holds her as the sun rises, his nose in her hair, smelling the sunshine and her shampoo. She captures the light of the room and swallows it whole.
"We're better this time."
She watches him until he's sure she'll never look away.
The sun rises. The day goes on.