In the slightly cramped single room apartment that represented the typical freshman dorms of the Purdue University campus in Indiana, Adam Park sat at his large desk, his chin propped on his left hand and his right hand absently clicking on the mouse of his computer. His dark, weary eyes continued to pan along the seemingly endless jargon that composed his final paper on the subject of gender conflict in Shakespearean drama.
"I swear, if I ever take a Renaissance literature course again, it'll be too soon!" Adam moaned to himself, leaning back in his chair in order to free his left hand. He shook off the numbness that set in due to the weight of his head resting upon it for so long, and reached over to grasp his coffee mug. After taking a long sip of the powerful caffeinated brew in order to sharpen his cloudy awareness, Adam took another deep breath, and let his dark eyes rest once again on the bright computer screen.
"Pullin' another all-nighter, Adam?" came an amused voice from the door. Adam didn't bother to turn around, but slumped his shoulders in response.
"I have no choice, Leif," he answered, his voice tainted with exhaustion, "This paper is half my grade, and it's due at eight o'clock tomorrow morning!"
Leif grinned. "Well, at least when you're done, you'll finally be finished for the semester. Everyone always says first semester freshman year is the hardest. It'll get easier as time goes by."
Adam scowled slightly, clearly not buying his roommate's well-intentioned comments. "We'll see."
Leif glanced over Adam's shoulder, and scanned the document shown on the screen. "It looks like you're just about done, Adam. But still, you should've finished this ages ago! Has something been distracting you? After all, your other final exams were done three days ago! There's no excuse for this."
Adam shrugged. "I just... couldn't keep my mind on the assignment."
Leif sat his hand on Adam's shoulder, a serious expression crossing his face. "Hey, Man, tell me you weren't mooning over Tanya again."
An amused grin crossed Adam's tired features. "Please, Leif! I'm not that pathetic! We've been through for almost a month now. Besides, I have more important things to occupy my time with."
Leif shrugged his shoulders, stepping away from Adam towards his own bed. "If you say so. Anyway, I'd better get going."
Adam looked away from the computer, and turned around in his swivel chair to look at his roommate. "Where are you going at two in the morning?"
"Well, the only reason why I stayed this late is because of that big frat party tonight," Leif explained, haphazardly throwing a handful of belongings into his duffel bag, "I was done with exams yesterday."
"What's the rush?" Adam inquired, "Why on Earth would you want to drive at this time of night?"
"My house is only about an hour from here, and I like driving at night more. The roads are less crowded, so I can zip along at my own pace."
Adam chuckled slightly. "Well, don't kill yourself."
"I won't," Leif said with a grin, zipping up the bag, "So, did you decide what you were doing this break?"
"I told you, I'm going to Chicago with Andrew and Jimmy tomorrow afternoon."
Leif shook his head. "The Chicago trip is only for five days. What are you gonna do after? Winter Break is five weeks."
Adam shrugged. "I... I guess I could hang around here..."
Leif frowned slightly. "Are you telling me you won't go home and see all your friends and family, just because of what Tanya did to you?"
Adam rose from his chair, his eyes narrow with impatience. "Tanya didn't do anything to me that I didn't deserve!"
Leif met eyes with Adam and easily perceived his friend's anger. "I knew it."
"You're still hung up on her. Don't bother denying it, either... if you weren't, you wouldn't have blown up at me just now."
Adam blinked, and brushed the comment aside, sitting back at his computer. "No, I'm not," he defended, "I'm just tired and stressed out about this paper. That's all."
Leif sighed. "Adam, listen to me. I'm your friend, and I'm worried about you. I understand that you and Tanya had something special, but it's over now. Don't keep dwelling on it. It'll only make you crazy."
With that, Leif hefted his bag, and waved at his roommate. "Have a good break, Adam. I hope you're in better spirits next term."
Adam watched as his friend walked out the door, closing it gently behind him. Adam waited for a few moments, making sure Leif was gone. Then, he pulled open the top drawer of his desk, and lifted a gold frame. A smile instantly spread on his weary face as he gazed at the photograph.
Standing on stage, with the colored lights bathing her in surreal blanket of energy, Tanya Sloan stood, grasping her microphone as if her entire being depended on it. Her full, red lips were puckered slightly, gently breathing out the concluding note to the song she performed as an encore that night, "Endless Love."
She had looked so amazingly radiant that night, with her dark curls piled on her head and held fast by an antique gold and pearl clasp. Her full-length cream yellow gown hugged her curves quite flatteringly, allowing her enough freedom to dance to the tunes she sang, while accentuating her elegant stature. And the glow in her eyes showed the passion she felt, as if the song she sang mirrored her true feelings.
As if she were singing the song directly to Adam.
Wish I'd told her how I felt,
Then maybe she'd be here right now, but instead...
Adam remembered so clearly that wonderful night in May, when he and Tanya attended the Senior Prom together. She was so stunningly beautiful in that pale yellow gown, she absolutely radiated grace and refinement. She glided along the floor with every step she took, and took Adam's breath away with a glance. It took all of Adam's willpower to keep his knees from going weak when they danced.
That evening, while the lead singer of the live band took a short break, the audience began begging Tanya to sing just one song. Apparently, everyone remembered Tanya's magnificent, soulful voice, that rang in people's hearts with the strength of a church bell, yet caressed people's ears with the delicacy of a song bird. After a while, Tanya conceded to sing one song. The song she chose to sing was a solo version of Diana Ross and Lionel Richie's classic ballad "Endless Love."
Adam was swept away by the song. It felt so wonderful to have such a magnificent angel as his girlfriend. That was only one moment of pure admiration, forever captured on film. There were many, many others.
Tanya was so incredibly captivating to Adam. She had stolen his heart almost from the moment they met. They had suffered through trial after trial as Power Rangers, fighting side by side against all forms of evil. They were meant to be.
With so much bonding them... with all the love they shared... how could Adam let her slip through his fingers?
Disdain melting away his serene smile, Adam shoved the picture back into his drawer.
"I can't believe how pathetic I am," he muttered, "Here I am, three weeks since we broke up, and I still can't get her out of my mind. I can barely function! I struggled through all my exams, missed all the holiday parties, and barely even left my room. I keep staring at her photograph, while peeking over my shoulder to make sure there wasn't anyone there to see me. This is no way to live a life."
Adam pushed the keyboard of his computer further away from him, and folded his arms along the edge of his desk. Trembling slightly with buried anguish, he reflected on the last time he saw Tanya: Sunday morning of Thanksgiving Break.
Adam watched the hustle and bustle around him as he took a seat near the gate from which his flight would depart in just a few minutes.
It was uncanny how quickly the Thanksgiving holiday had passed by. He had arrived in Angel Grove that Wednesday morning, and was greeted by his family. He had spent the entire day, as well as Thanksgiving, with his extended family. It was tradition to celebrate the holiday together, and tradition was something Adam couldn't ignore.
On Friday, the entire gang got together at the Juice Bar for some down time. It was terrific to spend time with Kat, Tommy, and Rocky, but what he really wanted was to be alone with Tanya. He hadn't seen her since he left for Purdue University in August, and besides a few phone calls and the occasional letter, he had barely communicated with her.
That was something he had sworn he wouldn't do... but it was so difficult to do anything he wanted when he was drowning in exams and term papers. College was more work than he had anticipated, and combined with a part-time job to ease expenses, he barely had time to breathe.
It felt like Tanya was slowly slipping away from him.
He hoped to remedy that problem over Thanksgiving, but that was impossible. There were only five days of vacation, one of which was devoted to travel. He didn't have a chance to get reacquainted with his angel.
But Christmas Break was another matter... five whole weeks of freedom, without any work hanging over his head! He'd spend every waking moment with Tanya for the first few days, making up for time lost. Then it'd be just like the old days, before they were separated by thousands of miles.
He had intended to apologize to Tanya when she came to see him off. He wanted so much to spend just a few minutes of time together that he even asked his family to just drop him off, instead of wait with him. He had a girlfriend to get reacquainted with.
However... when he saw her slowly walk towards him, her head cast to the ground and her fingers folded tightly, Adam could discern something wasn't right.
"Tanya?" he asked, standing up from his seat. Tanya finally reached him, and smiled wanly at him. Adam noticed she didn't look directly into his eyes.
"Hi, Adam," Tanya greeted solemnly.
"Uh... hi," Adam responded, parting his arms to embrace her. Instead, Tanya sat down in an empty seat, and pulled him into the chair beside her. Dumfounded, Adam took a seat and studied her expression carefully.
He had never before seen his angel look so nervous... not even when they were in life and death situations as Power Rangers.
"Adam," she started, locking eyes with him for the first time, "I... I have something to tell you. I think we should split up."
Adam blinked in surprise. That was the last thing he expected her to utter.
"W... What?" he choked.
Tanya swallowed, her eyes scanning around the airport as she searched for the right words.
"Adam, ever since you started college, things have been... different. You're all the way in Indiana, and I'm here in Angel Grove, working at the radio station until I make enough money to start college myself. I... I don't know where I'll end up, and you don't know where you'll end up. Right?"
Adam felt his throat close up; so he nodded mutely in answer.
Tanya nodded as well, in confirmation. "So you see... we're moving in two distinct directions. I'm here, you're there. Staying together would be too much of a strain on you, especially with your new life and all.
"You... you just don't have time for me anymore. We've been clinging onto something that's not there any longer, Adam. I think it's in our best interests to just let it go."
Adam's mouth opened, but no words came out. Tanya gazed at him expectantly, as if hoping he'd say something... anything... to prove to her that her suspicions were wrong.
He couldn't believe it! He just couldn't believe it! He was too shocked to even fathom a response. He just sat there, stiff as a statue, as Tanya poured her heart out. And he couldn't even articulate a response.
He simply couldn't make a sound. He was silent; so silent, that he could hear his heart breaking.
^Flight 1870, direct from Angel Grove to Indianapolis International, now boarding at Gate 13.^
"Th... That's my flight," Adam said quietly, quickly grabbing his carry on. He turned toward the gate, glancing back one more time at his angel.
Her large dark eyes were glassy with unshed tears, but they simultaneously shone with determination. Tanya Sloan knew what she was doing. She had obviously put a great deal of thought into this separation, and her mind was made up.
There was no turning back now.
Adam waved slightly, unsure of what to say. He knew what he should say, but he just couldn't force the words through his throat.
He couldn't say what he felt. He couldn't give her the assurance she had needed. He didn't know why, but he just couldn't muster the strength. So, instead of fighting... he surrendered.
Biting his lower lip, he gripped his carry on more tightly. "Goodbye, Tanya."
"Take care, Adam," she answered in an even voice.
Adam inclined his head toward the gate, and continued onward. He didn't look back again.
Miraculously, Adam's eyes remained dry as he took his seat in the coach section of the airplane. He managed to place his bag in the overhead compartment, and sat down beside the open window. His gaze was fixed on the terminal, although he couldn't discern Tanya's form through the glass windows. Still, he was sure she was there somewhere.
He stared blankly at the airport, and continued to stare as the plane pulled away, and sped onto the runway. He stared as the road passed faster and faster below, and finally, it grew farther and farther away. He stared as he saw the airport, and then the rest of Angel Grove with a bird's eye view. It kept getting smaller, until it was unrecognizable.
Angel Grove was gone. His angel was gone. Gone forever.
Adam shook slightly, waiting until the flight attendant announced the takeoff was over, and that passengers could move about freely. Wasting no time, Adam rose from his seat, and pushed himself toward the bathroom.
After locking himself in the matchbox-sized compartment, Adam leaned against the cold metal sink and let the tears flow freely.
He knew he was probably making the other passengers furious by monopolizing one of the few lavatories on the plane, but he didn't care. He cried until there were no more tears to shed. He let all his frustrations, doubts, and fears pour from the fountain of his dark eyes, until they were spent. At least, for the time being.
Once he had fully composed himself, Adam washed his face with cool water, and stepped outside... an empty smile covering his face like a porcelain mask.
Adam's eyes shot open, the memory fading like a dream. But the hurt still remained.
"I love you, Tanya," he said firmly, lifting his head from the desk, "I love you so much, it's killing me being without you! Why couldn't I just tell you? Why did I let you put an end to what we had?!"
"You... you just don't have time for me anymore. We've been clinging onto something that's not there any longer, Adam. I think it's in our best interests to just let it go."
But she was wrong. She had to be wrong. Adam certainly knew living without his angel wasn't in his best interests. He could more easily part with his right arm, or the air he breathed. Having Tanya Sloan in his life was as vital as anything else he could think of.
How did he let her leave? How did he let something as passing as college tear them apart? He left Angel Grove to work toward a fulfilling career, but what would it serve? What does success matter, without someone to share it with?
Adam just had assumed Tanya would be patient with him. He didn't realize that, since she wasn't yet in college, perhaps she didn't understand the pressures he was feeling during his first term.
Still, despite all the time he spent thinking on the matter, there was one question that lingered... Why didn't he try to make her understand?
Somehow, he knew that was the key. The only way for him to hold on to his sanity, and finally live his life again, was to patch things up with Tanya. He knew she still loved him... that's why she was so upset he hadn't been more attentive to her. She probably didn't want to be in his way.
If only she realized how much she mattered to him! She was his life's blood... his reason to make something of himself. She was his muse of inspiration, the light in his future. Why couldn't she see that?
Because, he never told her.
All that he had suffered, was all his fault.
"I should have just talked to her," he reasoned, gazing at his computer screen. The image of Microsoft Word had vanished awhile ago, leaving the blank screen of standby mode on. In the black glass, Adam saw his reflection staring back at him. He looked as hollow as he felt.
"Three simple words, could have spared all this pain. All I had to do was convince her of my love for her! I know that's all she really needed! I don't believe I didn't give it to her! Why am I being tortured with this insight now... when it's too late?!"
But... was it too late? Was it really? Was everything lost beyond all reclamation?
Or was there a chance... albeit slight... that he could be reunited with his angel?
The first genuine, hopeful smile that crossed his placid face in weeks materialized from the depths of his sorrow, bestowing upon the enamored young man the courage and determination needed to fix the mistakes he made.
"Tomorrow morning, I'm handing in my paper, and taking the earliest flight to Angel Grove possible. I know we can make things right again. I just know it."
Satisfied, Adam lifted the telephone from its stand, and dialed the number of a close friend.
^What?^ groaned a exhausted voice.
"Hey Jimmy! It's me, Adam."
^Adam, why the hell are you calling me at... three-thirty in the morning? Is the building on fire or something?!^
Adam smiled at his friend's semi-conscious ramblings. "No, but something important has come up. I'm not going to be able to go to Chicago after all. I have some things to take care of at home."
There was a short silence on the other end. "Good luck with Tanya," Jimmy said, a smile evident in his voice. Adam chuckled slightly, and rested the telephone on its stand once again.
They knew. They probably all knew. All the people he tried to hide the truth from had perceived his true feelings.
"I'm don't have to be alone. Not anymore."