Once upon a time Alice had this feeling with someone else. This feeling that she couldn't quite work someone out.
It had been Levi.
(Or it could have been Vincent, or Rory, or Max, but here, it was Levi).
"She's the love of my life," Levi had drunkenly slurred across the bar, not taking his eyes off Alice.
"I'm glad," Alice had laughed, throwing back one of the cranberry and apple concoctions she used to drink. She'd bought a bottle of the Apple liquer a week after and had drunk it in one go with Ryan. She never drank it again.
Alice could never quite work out if Levi's first statement was the truth or if his subsequent claims and requests spoke greater volumes. But of course, people don't always say what they mean, or mean what they say. Levi was not the only human for whom this was true.
Alice had encountered it with Rory, too.
"You can't leave him for me."
Rory had whispered as he reached around and held Alice's stomach, his nose in the nape of her neck.
"I know," Alice had replied, closing her eyes and breathing deeply.
Perhaps she did know. And perhaps she knew Rory was lying, but Alice didn't like playing games. No matter how sweet someone may seem. She liked honesty, so she preferred to believe everyone was honest.
Vincent, too. But perhaps that was later. Or perhaps he told the truth later. Maybe he lied to begin with.
Alice had been in a car amongst friends- well, workmates. Drunken, older workmates who played taxi for her when she played up. She had been young, much younger, when Vincent had been around. They were heading into town when Vincent texted her. Three months too late.
"Come over," he said.
She regretted not complying in the past. Just as she'd regret not complying with Levi's requests in the future. But then, in the car, she knew it was for the best.
"I'm out with friends." She sent back.
"I was falling in love with you."
She would probably think about that one for years, she'd thought at the time. And so she did.
So perhaps no one in her life ever really made sense.
And then there was Jake.
She was fairly certain he was lying, most of the time.
He was fairly certain he was telling the truth, most of the time.
"Why don't you stay a while?" he'd say, raising his eyebrows and pouring another glass of wine with a laugh.
"Perhaps I will," she'd always reply.
Alice had vowed never to fall for Jake after he'd tried to break her down one day.
"You're pathetic." was all he'd texted her after she walked out of his apartment.
Alice had been with one too many narcissistic nutcases to know what this sort of communication meant.
Once when Jake had been running his fingers through her hair on his threadbare couch, her legs up against the wall and his legs on the floor, he'd tried to tell her something.
"I feel like..." He'd momentarily stopped stroking her hair, and looked into her eyes. Maybe searching for the right words to explain how he felt. Maybe searching for the right words to produce the desired effect.
"Like... perhaps, you're one of the ones for me."
Alice fluttered her eyelashes in reply as she gazed up at him.
She could never quite work out if he was trying to manipulate her or seduce her.
Recently, Alice had met Jake's best friend, Suzy, for lunch down the way.
"Jake is just something else," Suzy told Alice, attempting to look a little too interested in her pumpkin cannelloni.
"Mmm?" Alice had questioned through a sip of gin, flicking her long hair over her shoulder and raising her face, eyes closed, towards the sun.
"You know, I love him, and he-" - Alice never listened to much more of what Suzy had to say. Alice knew Jake loved Suzy.
Or perhaps he didn't. Perhaps he was manipulating Suzy and he loved Alice.
Or perhaps he was lusting after Alice and he loved Suzy.
Or perhaps none of anything she ever tried to work out was true.
Perhaps this was what had lead to this. What this or this was, she'd never know.
Alice, sitting now, in the airport. She didn't want to go home to Rory. She didn't want to go North to Levi. She didn't want to stay here with Jake.
And so she sat, red licorice bullets in hand, just waiting for a flight to call her name.