She woke up every day and tested herself. Each morning, she'd think
about Max and see if it hurt any less. She kept thinking that little by
little, she'd be able to forget the time they spent together. But it never
worked. She couldn't even forget one bittersweet moment.
Days went by. Her acceptance to Harvard pre-med came, but she couldn't
take it. She needed to stay in Roswell--just in case. So she and Maria took
classes at the community college. Got their own tiny apartment, and felt
like adults for the first time in their lives. They even met Mrs. Evans
once a week for lunch, to talk, to support each other--to remember.
Max and Isabel finally told their parents the truth, the night before
they left. Isable said she couldn't do it any other way. She loved their
mother too much to lie about this. But Diane Evans turned out to be stronger
than anyone thought. She only smiled, said she always knew her children were
special, and let them go. Which was almost more than Liz and Maria managed
For the first week, all Maria did was cry and sniff her cedar oils. It'd
been Liz's turn to be the strong, supportive one. Night after night, they'd
fallen asleep huddled together, as if somehow they could bring their three
friends back. She didn't know if she would've made it without Maria--her
pillar of wackiness, her sanity and strength.
But as six months finally rolled around after the tearful good-bye, she
was finally coming to terms with the fact that they left. She knew they had
to go, and why, and how hard it was for them not to stay...but it didn't mean
that she didn't watch the stars every night, and count the days until Max
would be back. Maria still cried in her sleep some nights, remembering
Michael's last crushing hug and kiss, and how he'd cried hardest of all of
them. But Liz never doubted. It hurt, but she had faith in her
Czechoslovakians--all three. There were times late at night when she
wondered, but like Diane, she always knew they'd come home. And she'd be
waiting to welcome them.
It was still a surprise when she woke up so suddenly one January night.
Maria was passed out cold next to her, snoring on her lavender-scented
aromatherapy pillow. Something sang to her soul, even in a deep sleep. She
got up, looked out the window at the cold desert, the lights of Roswell dim
in the distance. She'd never seen the stars shine so brightly, or seem so
She stayed at the window for a while, watching as the sky slowly
lightened to indigo, and a light lavender, before erupting in gashes of red
sunrise. But it wasn't the glory of the day that made her heart pound. It
was the three figures she saw walking out of the sunrise, toward town.
The occupant of the bed snorted, and rolled over.
She kicked her best friend with her foot. "Maria!"
The occupant sat up, mumbling, her curls mashed to the side of her head.
"Gonna die, Liz, too busy sleeping'..."
She grabbed Maria's hand, and dragged the half-awake body to the window,
where she pointed.
And then she had to restrain Maria from climbing out the window to the
ground, two stories below.
She didn't know how they did it, but the next moment, they were flying
down the sidewalk on the outskirts of town. Bare feet pounded the pavement.
Their hands clutched each others. And Liz didn't even realize that she was
running through a town she'd spent her whole life in wearing boxers and one
of Max's old T-shirts.
And then she was caught up in a pair of warm arms, and Maria was being
swung around and kissed, and Isabel was hugging them both so tight... And
then she was back in Max's arms, touching his face gently, finding it still
the same it had been when he left. Her fingers memorized the planes and
curves all over again, touching his soft lips, feeling the wetness of his
I missed you, his soulful Czechoslovakian eyes said--his human eyes.
I waited, hers said back. I knew...
And all five of them stood, with their arms around each other, heads
touching in a huddle.
"Mom?" Isabel's voice was shaky.
Maria smiled. "We had lunch with her yesterday. She's fine. She misses
"But your parents...?" Liz looked to each of her aliens. "Didn't
Michael shook his head. "They died in the crash. There were a few
relatives, but..." He never took his eyes off Maria's face.
Max finished softly. "...it just wasn't home."
Liz met Isabel's eyes, and they exchanged a smile. "I'm gonna go see
Mom, Max. I'll tell her you'll be home in a while." She hugged Maria and
Liz hard one last time, and took off at a fast jog towards her house. Liz
couldn't help but wonder if there would be a stop at the Whitmans' house
before then. Alex was home on vacation from college now anyways.
Michael and Maria walked off a ways, arms wrapped around each other,
kissing and talking as they walked. Some things never changed. But Maria
finally looked alive again, like her vibrating self.
She looked up at Max, and found him staring intently at her face. He
never took his eyes off of her, even as they walked back to the apartment.
They didn't talk, because they didn't need to.
Back at their apartment, the door to Maria's room was already closed, a
do not disturb sign from some cheap motel already hanging drunkenly from the
doorknob. Max and Liz both laughed as she shut her door.
"So this is your new place, huh?" Max settled down on the unmade bed,
where Maria had slept just a little while before. "What about Harvard?"
She sat down on the bed beside him, curling up against his side. "I
couldn't go," she said finally. "I told them I needed a year off, because of
family problems. And they let me."
His hand reached up to stroke her cheek. "Liz the Valedictorian of West
Roswell High refused Harvard?" There was a smile in his voice. "I'm
She reached up, tipping his face towards hers. "Max Evans gave up his
home for me. I'm the one who's touched."
He looked out the window at the rising sun, and yawned. "Mind if I crash
She gave him a half-grin. "You need to ask?"
He disentangled himself from her quickly, stripping down to his T-shirt
and boxers, and laid back down next to her. She curled up in his arms,
resting her head on his chest.
He kissed her lips lightly. "We got to where we came from, and found
that what we were looking for was here." His fingers brushed up against her
chest, feeling the beating of her heart. "Home is where you are, Liz. Where
our hearts are. And our hearts are here."
Soon he drifted off to sleep. She ran her fingers lightly along his jaw,
feeling his chest rise and fall under her cheek. "Thanks for bringing my
heart back to me," she whispered to the new day. And she felt as if she
finally knew where the small-town girl belonged in the vast galaxies of stars.