I sat quietly in class as I listened to her. Her voice was mesmerizing and almost hypnotic as she sang for us. ALong with a friend, she was singing this same song, called "1000 Words" later that night in our high school talent show. She stopped after a moment, and the room felt empty to me without the sweet sound of her voice.
The class, thankfully, was a music class in which all of us needed to sing that day, so I was not long deprived of that beautiful sound I longed for. I was called upon first, and she watched as I made my failing attempt at a song called "Yellow"/ I was not, by any means, bad or unpleasant to listen to, but she was so much better, and so beautiful.
She was about five feet tall, with long blonde hair tied back in a French braid. Her smile could light up a room. Her eyes held a light which made even the sun seem dim by comparison. She was slightly pale, and had an average body, but that's not so important. She was also my best friend.
I finished my song, and sat down, not looking at anyone. I knew I had screwed up. I sat a few seats away from her, but the chairs beween us were normally empty, as they were today. After a moment, she turned to look at me. The teacher was finished her evaluation of me, and then the next person would go.
"Alex, your pitch was all over the place today. What's wrong?"
I couldn't tell her the truth. It's not like I could look at her and say, "Jenna, I screwed up so bad because you're amazing and I psyched myself out." It just wouldn't work.
"Alex?" She waved her hand in front of my face for a moment, snapping me out of my thoughts and back to reality.
"Are you all right?"
"Yeah. I'm just tired." I tried to smile reassuringly, but I am unsure if it was convincing.
"What's really bothering you?"
"Jenna, what makes you think there's something else wrong? I'm fine, really. I just haven't slept."
"Yes, I'm sure. You worry too much, you know."
"Why shouldn't I worry about you? I l-" She stopped there, pressing her hand over her mouth in that cute way she does as she realises she's thinking out loud. I laughed a bit, but then I became curious.
"You were about to say something, but you stopped. What were you going to say?"
"Nothing. I'm up anyway, so we'll talk later, all right?"
When she got up to the front of the room, she looked around nervously. I smiled to reassure her. SLowly, nervously, she began. Her voice was beautiful as always, like the sound of birds singing in early spring. It was the song she was doing for the talent show later that night.
I know that you're hiding things,
Using gentle words to shelter me
Your words were like a dream,
But dreams could never fool me,
Not that easily
As always, it was a sweet sound, entrancing and intoxicating. I couldn't get enough of it.
I acted so distant then
Didn't say good-bye before you left
But I was listening
You'll fight your battles far from me
Far too easily
The tone of it was almost mournful in the amount of heartache and pain conveyed through her singing. From the passion and the intensity she sang with, it was clear that she felt every bit of the pain in the song.
"Save your tears 'cause I'll come back,"
I could hear that you whispered
As you walked through that door
But still I swore
To hide the pain when I turned back the pages
Shouting might have been the answer
But what if I cried my eyes out,
And begged you not to depart?
But now I'm not afraid to say
What's in my heart
Now she looked over toward me as she sang. Clearly, she was nervous. I didn't know why or what I could do to ease her fears at all.
Because a thousand words call out through the ages
They'll fly to you, and even though I can't see
I know they're reaching you
Suspended on silver wings
Oh, a thousand words,
One thousand embraces
Will cradle you
Making all of your weary days seem far away
They'll hold you forever
She stopped then. Her time was done. I could see that she was blushing bright red as she sat down. I, being the lame geek type, said the only thing I could think of once I told her again how amazing she was.
"Hey, Jenna, you've got red on you," I said with a false British accent asI pointed at her cheek. Thankfully, she laughed. In the same odd accent, she replied.
"Shaun's always the one with red on him, not Liz."
"You're much prettier than that actress, anyway."
"Aw, thanks!" She said as she kissed me on the cheek.
"You really are."
The class passed uneventfully, as did the next two. I couldn't see Jenna again until lunch, but I couldn't stop thinking about what she had said. I couldn't help but wonder. What was it she had stopped herself from saying? It could have been nothing, but it could have changed everything. She would not leave my thoughs, and wanted to keep me wondering. IT was as if, as she sat in a room on the other side of the building, she knew my thoughts and was controlling them. Why did my worries hold such a power over me?
Lunch came quickly. I used the microwave in the school store to heat up my feast of ramen noodles, then went to my usual picnic table under a group of trees outside. Setting my bag down, I pulled out my notebook as I began to eat and wrote quickly. The pen I used made furious scratching sounds as it flew across the page. I was absorbed in my own world, until I felt a weight pressing on the top of my head, and I heard her voice.
"Having fun?" She asked playfully.
"Actually, I'm sort of stuck now."
"Mind if I join you?"
"I'd be insulted if you didn't."
"Good," she said with a laugh. Then she sat down across from me. As she did, I noticed her clothes for the first time that day. She was wearing one of those tight, low-cut shirts from Hollister, and a mid-length denim skirt. She looked different, though. Her clothes were normal for this time of year, but she looked worried, like she was in deep thought about a painful subject, despite her playful attitude.
"Alex, we need to talk," Her voice cracked on the last word, "Do you still want to do it?"
"Yes," I answered softly. I knew exactly what she meant.
As I gave my answer, she buried her face in her hands and began to cry. For a moment, she could not speak. Then, she began again.
"I-I don't want to lost you."
"I'll be fine, Jenna. I promise."
"What can I do to convince you to s-stay?"
"I don't know."
I stood and moved to the other side of the table to hug her, but she pushed me away and ran off, still crying, as fast as her sandals would allow her to go. As I went to go after her, I was stopped by a girl whom I knew was a close friend of Jenna's. She wore mostly black, and her hair, which fell only to her jawline, matched her clothes. I felt the sting on my cheek and heard the sound of the hard hit before I even saw her hand move to slap me.
"What the hell did you say to her?"
"Not now, Julia. I need to go after her."
"Not until you tell me what happened."
"She wanted to know something and she didn't like the answer she got! Ok?"
I ran past her without waiting for a reply. I had no idea where Jenna could have gone, but I needed to find her. I didn't know where to even begin looking. I searching for a while, and finally found her. She was sitting on a stairway, alone, crying. I have only seen her cry so hard one other time: at her father's funeral the previous summer.
"Jenna, please, don't cry anymore. I'll be fine. I promise." I tried to comfort her, but it was obviously not working.
"No. You won't, Alex. You'll die."
"I'll be fine. What makes you think I'm going to die?"
"I saw it in a dream. You remember when my dad died? The same thing happened then. I saw it in a nightmare, and then it happened."
"And you think the same thing will happen to me?"
"Yes. I've been so scared for you ever since you told me."
I just held her close to me and tried to comfort her. Neither of us said anything more. Nothing more needed to be said then. The bell rang after a moment, and we went to our next class. The rest of the school day was a blur to me. I was too lost in my thoughts to pay attention.
After the last class let out, I found her again. She was clinging tightly to me before either of us said anything. Her arms were wrapped around my waist, and her head was laid on my chest.
"I love you, Alex," I heard her say.
"I know," I replied, "We're like brother and sister, you and I."
"No. It's more than that. I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
A single tear slid down her cheek, and I quickly wiped it away without a word. I knew what she meant, but I could think of no way to answer her. There was nothing I could have said. She stepped away from me, crying again, and left to go to her bus. I went to my own, and waited. The whole way home, I sat with a notebook on my lap, staring silently out the window. I had so much in my mind that my head was spinning.
As I got off the bus, my phone rang. The screen displayed a picture of the most beautiful girl in the world, with the caption "Jenna" under it. I answered it before the second ring.
"Alex, it's Jenna. I want to apologise for earlier."
"You have nothing to apologise for."
"What about what I said before?"
"Why would you apologise for that?"
"Because you see more as a sister than a lover, and I was just a silly little girl with foolish dreams of her Prince Charming to think we could ever be anything more than we are."
"You didn't give me a chance to answer you before you ran off. I'll talk to you tonight. I have to go."
I almost lost her then. I was such an idiot to react that way. I would have to wait until after the talent show to talk to her now. What would I say? I had no idea. I didn't know what to do. For most of the night, she was all I thought about. I couldn't eat. I couldn't focus on anything else.
When I arrived at the talent show, I sat in the front row. Jenna's act was in the middle, so I waited patiently. As always, she sang beautifully, with Julia Peterson singing harmony parts. They didn't win, but I was met once again by a very angry Julia as I went backstage to find Jenna.
"You're dirt," she said to me, "I don't know what Jenna sees in you. You broke her heart," and she slapped me again, harded than before, "and yet she still loves you with all that she has."
That was the last thing Julia would ever say to me. The call from Jenna came in around 12:30 AM.
"A-alex, it's Jenna," She was crying like earlier today, "Julia's dead!"