The unimaginable has happened.
After five glorious years of boy-band perfection, Zayn Malik has -- there's really no way to soften this -- quit One Direction.
Actually, if we're being honest, Malik's departure from the hugely popular British group was absolutely imaginable.
Last year at the Rose Bowl, where One Direction played three sold-out concerts, the 22-year-old singer looked as bored as I've ever seen anyone look while performing for tens of thousands of screaming fans.
And just last week Malik left the band's current tour, with One Direction's publicist citing "stress" as his reason for flying home to Britain.
But the inevitability of this outcome -- damn this outcome! -- won't likely blunt its impact on the group's ultra-devoted following.
In a statement Wednesday on the band's Facebook page, Malik apologized "to the fans if I've let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart."
He said his life with One Direction "has been more than I could ever have imagined," but added that he's leaving "because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight."
One Direction was formed in 2010 after its five members -- Malik, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne and Niall Horan -- tried out separately for the British edition of "The X Factor."
The group found instant success; private time since then has probably become something the members joke about rather than experience.
On Facebook, Malik's former bandmates said they're "really sad to see Zayn go, but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future."
The four will continue recording a new album -- the follow-up to November's excellent (and prophetically titled?) "Four" -- which the statement said would be released this year.