An: This came into my mind after I heard the song Rememberin Sunday by All Time Low. I was going to use it as a school assignment, but I can never meet the page requirment. Too many ideas to put a page limit on. I know, I should work on my other stories but yay for oneshots!
I've lost my mind. It's the only way that I can explain this. When did I lose it? Was it now? Now, that I was pushing the limit on my car and breaking so many driving laws I couldn't believe it?
Or had it happen before this? Maybe I've been cracked my whole life. I mean, I've done nothing but stupid meaningless things. So what that I've graduated college with a business major and am already been offered a very promising job? That job is long gone now. Now, that I'm speeding down this road at dawn. I'm supposed to be at work today.
I've wasted the last couple of days, "celebrating" getting this job. Let's just say that I can't remember when I've been completely sober. It had to be only a couple days when I was sane and sober. I used to be normal. Stupid, yes, but normal.
I've lived my life exactly how I expected it to turn out. Since leaving for school I had accomplished everything I'd ever wanted to. I should be happy. I should be practically pissing myself with joy.
But I'm not. I'm speeding down the roads fast enough to turn myself into a puddle if I were to hit something.
I press my foot harder on the pedal, the engine screaming at me.
It's not like I don't have friends. I haven't talked to them in a couple of weeks, but I made friends at college. I'm good at working with people. I always know what they want and I figure out how to give it to them. I had a girlfriend, Emily. I say had, because I just broke up with her half an hour ago through a text message that I punched out before leaving my house. That was at two o'clock in the morning.
Have I not made it clear that I've just recently gone very mad?
There was nothing wrong with Emily. She's been worried, sure. I mean it's obvious that there's something wrong with me. I don't know why she hadn't noticed it when she first met me a year ago. Why hadn't I noticed it? How could I have gone four years without noticing anything?
What was I doing those four years? Certainly not thinking.
I stop the car at the side of the road because I'm entering suburbia and I don't need to get pulled over by a cop. Maybe standing up and walking around will make me feel better. I slam the car door shut and walk around the car before leaning against it. I'm suddenly too tired to walk. It's warm out, even in the early morning. A breeze hits my tired face and it feels so good. The air is heavy and I can feel a summer storm about to start. It was summer four years ago, too, on a Sunday. I had felt a breeze just like this when we had gone to our favorite diner for the last time. We had eaten eggs. She had loved eggs. Her source of protein, she had always said. Maybe that was how she could always beat me in arm wrestling when we were really little.
A sudden sob fills my throat and I fall to my knees on the side of the road. My stomach lurches; I don't remember the last time I've eaten.
"Jessie." I say it aloud, hoping it will wake me up from this nightmare. I haven't said her name in so long that it feels weird in my mouth. It makes sense because this is all her fault.
No, it wasn't. It was mine.
Emily wanted to marry me. She said we could wait of course, but she wanted to move in with me. Why did I hate that? What's the big deal about that?
We've only been dating for a year. A year isn't that long, is it? I've known Jessie for a lot longer than a year. I'd known Jessie, I mean. I don't see her anymore.
Maybe it was Emily wanting to move in with me that set me off, but we talked about that last week. If that really wanted to make me crazy, I would have ran away last week, right?
Maybe it was Jessie's stupid plastic ring I found yesterday. But I didn't blow up yesterday. I didn't blow up till 2 o'clock -- exactly – this morning.
I know what set me off. It was that Godforsaken dream I had.
I get back into the car and start driving, too fast again.
"You have to start cleaning up around here a little before we move in together," Emily said.
"Yeah." I was too busy balancing my checkbook to notice she had started re-organizing my closet. "Wait a sec! What are you doing? Don't touch things!" I didn't know why I was mad; it wasn't like she was snooping or anything. But I didn't want her going through my things. Not the things in my closet, anyway.
She pulled out a small box that I didn't remember and blew dust off of it. "Really, Alex, when's the last time you got rid of the dust bunnies back here?" She opened the box and pulled out a black plastic ring. My heart flew up to my throat. I didn't even completely understand why, but I flung myself up and grabbed the box away from her. The ring fell to the ground. She flinched away warily. "Alex! What the hell is wrong with you?"
My phone goes off, and the little green light flashes. I slow the car down and pull over. Good thing there aren't a lot of cars on the street this early in the morning or I might have been hit.
I look at my phone. It's Emily. I don't answer it. I stare at the steering wheel, feeling my eyes get heavy again. I could go to sleep so much easier if that stupid phone would shut up. I turn it off, my arm feeling heavy and sluggish.
We didn't say anything as we ate our breakfast. My foot kept twitching. It won't be hard. I'll just have to say it and it'll be over. It was for the best. Besides, I was pretty sure Jessie wouldn't kill me. She would understand. She wouldn't even cry. Jessie never cried.
She looked up with her dark eyes. Maybe she knew it was coming.
"You know how I'm going to college tomorrow..." I trailed off. Man, I really shouldn't have waited until the last second. Or maybe that was a good thing, because than we would have been together as long as possible.
Jessie didn't say anything, so I just said it. "I think we should break up."
"Yeah. Okay." She took another bite of her eggs.
"Because we're going to be 12 hours away from each other, and long-distance relationships never work out, and we want to do different things with our lives. I mean, we are so different –"
"Alex, I get it." She grinned at me. Hearing her call me Alex made the statement sharper. She never called me Alex.
"We're still friends, right?"
"Of course. No hard feelings." It was too easy. Why was she acting like it wasn't hard? I didn't want it to be hard, but still. We've -- I thought we sorta ha – we meant something to each other, didn't we?
"Oh." Jessie slipped the plastic black ring off of her ring finger. She always wore it on her left hand, even in the shower she said. I used to wonder what she was going to do when she got married and had to put a different ring on her finger. Though I could never picture Jessie ever getting married -- unless it was to me, of course -- but that wasn't going to happen now. "Here." She gave me the ring. "To remember me by."
"But you love this ring," I told her. "You said you were going to wear it forever."
"Well I can't really do that now."
She laughed. "Don't you remember?"
She signed. "You got that ring from a quarter machine when we were three after relentless whining to your mom. Then you gave it to me and said I was going to be your wife. Technically, it's an engagement ring and I'm giving it back."
"Oh. I don't remember that."
"You were only three."
"So were you."
"Well I should let you get back to your house so you can make sure you're all packed." I didn't answer as I stared at the plastic ring. "Bye, AJ." She knocked me in the head lightly with her fist, but I was still trying to remember being three and clumsily shoving a quarter into a machine. When I looked up, she was gone.
I meant to call her, but I couldn't. Every time I tried, I thought about how she wasn't mine anymore. She had given back my "engagement" ring with a smile. Besides, if she wanted to talk to me, she would call me. She never did. I figured she must have gotten a boyfriend or something, but I couldn't picture anyone being good enough for Jessie. As time went by, I had decided that Jessie must hate me. Why wouldn't she? I broke up with her after promising to be with her forever, and I never even tried to stay in touch with her. I rarely came home for the holidays, since home was so far away. Besides, I might have run into Jessie. So I stayed at school and did work. I got a lot done for school that way.
I drive as I think. I don't really know where I'm going. It doesn't matter, as long as I'm driving.
Jessie was my first and best friend. She was my first girlfriend, my first kiss, my first lot of things. I used to think about her constantly. There was no world outside of Jessie. She was the most amazing person ever. Life without Jessie was pointless. I'm starting to think if maybe that's still true. Our mothers used to be friends, so we used to play with each other as babies. Back then, Jessie would always steal what I was playing with and make me cry.
She was the leader when we played pretend games. She came up with the ideas and told me what to do. She was a little on the bossy side, but I always followed her obediently. Jessie always knew everything and she would look after me like an older sibling, though I was actually older by a few months. Whenever I skinned my knee, she'd run off to get a band-aid and kiss my knee when she was done. If I was still crying after that, she'd push me over again and tell me to be a man.
Jessie used to fight with the kids at school all the time. I used to be made fun of because I wore glasses and had braces. Elementary school was a very awkward time in my life. Jessie would punch anyone in the face if they even thought about bullying me. She held my hand whenever I was scared. We told each other everything. Jessie would tell me how she saw the world and people, and though she knew I didn't always understand her, she told me anyway and I listened. I was completely loyal to her. Why shouldn't have I been? She was my savior and I had had a crush on her for as long as I could remember.
Jessie was beautiful. She had a way of making a sneer attractive. She was half Native American and had long straight black hair, black eyes and dark, beautiful skin. She had some muscle on her because she worked out so much, but she wasn't bulky, and actually she was quite small. She always looked taller because she was so well put-together, and it wasn't until you went up to her that you realized she was small. Though she was taller than me until we got to high school. She had curves in high school, too, but she wouldn't go out with you if you asked her out. No, she had always been mine. Even before we were dating or anything, if someone asked her out, she'd blow up on them. She was angry a lot, but she was never angry at me.
Jessie didn't have a father. He had left when we were still very young, and I don't remember him very well. Jessie's memory was better than mine. She'd start thinking about things randomly and become sad, but Jessie never cried. Sometimes I wonder if she should. Keeping her feelings inside all the time couldn't be very good, you know?
"I didn't like that movie."
"Why not? It had a happy ending. You said you like it when movies have happy endings."
"But that was a bad movie."
"Why?" Though I didn't know why I was arguing with her. We had just watched some dumb chick flick, so of course I thought it was bad, but my mom told me you had to sit through chick flicks if you ever wanted a girl to like you. Good load of advice that was. Jessie wasn't like other girls.
"It was, too fake."
"It was a movie."
"It was a bad movie. People don't fall in love like that. Just because they spent a night together doesn't meant they're gonna get married and risk their lives for each other. They'll probably get married and then divorce the year after. And I can't believe they used the term, 'True Love'! True love doesn't even exist!"
I shrugged my shoulders uncomfortably. "I don't know. Maybe you just have to give it time."
"No, time just makes it die more."
"Well if you ever went out with someone maybe you'd know for sure," I mutter.
"And what the hell is that supposed to mean? You've never went out with anyone, either."
"That's because girls don't find me hot. Almost all the guys at school think you're hot."
"And they're all dill-holes that only want sex. See? There's no such thing as true love. After they get what they want, they leave."
I knew then that she was thinking about her father again. "Well, what about my parents? They're still together."
"Your parents are nice people. They're together because they know it's easier financially and they've made a partnership with each other. They realize working together it better than fighting. Sure they like each other, but do you ever see them holding hands or kissing? They're more friends than lovers."
"Well . . . you don't know that."
"Some people stay passionately in love until the day they die."
"Yeah, when they die young."
"You just got to give it a chance." I told her. "I mean . . . Do you think I'm a dill-hole?" I asked with a grin. Then, realizing what I said, I started laughing like a retard.
"No!" She waved her hand. "Of course not. You're way too innocent to be a dill-hole."
"Too innocent? See this is why girls don't think I'm hot."
"Aw . . . Poor wittle AJ wants to be sexy?"
"If it gets me a girl, hell yeah."
"Well is there anyone in particular?"
"Maybe . . . Sorta."
"Ooh. Is she sexy?"
"Of course she is. I happen to have very good taste."
"Then ask her out."
"That's easier said than done."
"Come on. Just do it and get it over with. Better yet, just go up to her and give her a peck on the cheek. Flirt, you know? You're terrible at flirting."
"I am not! And how would you even know? You've never even seen me flirt before!"
"My point exactly. You have no practice. I'm afraid to see it."
"I can't just go up to a girl and randomly kiss her."
"B-because . . . That's weird!"
"I'd do it for you, but I don't think it's gonna help you much." Of course Jessie would kiss a girl if you dared her to. She'd do anything if you dared her. "And that way, if she slaps you, you know for sure she doesn't like you. If you just ask her out, it might be difficult to tell if she likes you or if she just doesn't want to hurt your feelings."
"So you got it? Show some confidence. Confidence is attractive."
"You're gonna chicken out."
"I'm not." But butterflies were bouncing around in my stomach as I tried to get myself closer to her on the couch without her noticing. I didn't know why I felt I had to sneak up on her. I could have just asked her right then. That would have been logical; talking was logical. Kissing someone without warning didn't make sense at all. Why startle someone like that? Why was I following her advice?
"I bet you five dollars that you will."
I almost missed her mouth because I was shaking so bad. I squeezed my eyes tight and dug my fingers into the material of the couch during the moment that I could feel her lips. I pulled away and looked at her anxiously, waiting for that slap in the face.
She laughed at me, giving me a shove that sent me to the other side of the couch. "You're such a dork."
"W-wait! Is a shove like a slap?! Is that like another way of being rejected? And how do I know when it's not rejection? You never said that part!"
She laughed again as she took my face in her hands. "Calm down, AJ. It's just a kiss!" She gave me another one and I felt the blood rush to my face and I lost my breath. "See? They're just kisses." She gave me two more quick ones. "Calm down."
I brought her back to me, kissing her gently as if she would break if I did it too hard, though I was more likely to break. I felt her lips turn upward against mine. "I love you . . ."
She pulled away a little with a frown on her face. "Slow down there, AJ."
"But I do." I looked at her pleadingly.
"Those are strong words that don't really–"
"But I do," I interrupted. "I do. I bet you five dollars I do." I was leaning closer to her without even realizing it and she pushed me away again with a laugh.
"I already owe you five dollars!"
"Jessie." I took her hands. "Please."
"Don't be stupid, AJ.
"Please," I only repeated. "Try it, at least. I swear to God I won't be a dill-hole!"
She laughed again. "AJ, you'll never be a dill-hole."
"Never," I agreed, feeling my hope go up again.
"I'll let you love me until you get tired of me and move on."
"I'll never get tired of you, Jessie. I've been with you forever."
"Sure." She kissed me with a grin on her lips.
"I am such a dill-hole," I say out loud, because I talk to myself now that I've gone crazy. "Dammit! I'm such a dill-hole!" I ram my fist against the steering wheel -- while I'm still driving – and almost drive off the road. A car honks at me as it races past.
Where am I?
I look for road signs. I had left the suburban town and had been on the highway for a while. The highway was good. You can't really get lost on the highway so I let out a breath and lose myself again.
"This is your mom's tree," I whispered.
"It's my tree. She gave it to me."
"If you say so."
"You don't love me, do you?"
"What? Of course I do! You always do that to me!"
She grinned at me and gave me a kiss before she returned to her carving. "AJ and JW" she read, before carving a heart around it. "I'm gonna put in a arrow, too."
"Be careful with the knife, okay?"
"This knife?" She waved it in front of my face.
"You want to carve it, or do you want me?" She parted her lips and pressed the tip of the knife to her tongue.
"Get that out of your mouth! You're gonna cut your tongue open! Are you crazy?!"
"Yes," she answered, spinning around before wrapping her arms around my neck. "You want to carve the arrow or shall I?" She pressed her lips against my mouth, then my neck, and I could feel her slide her tongue across my skin. Whenever she did stuff like that I had trouble thinking straight.
"W-what? Oh, um. You're a better artist than me."
"Okay then, love." She pulled away from me to carve the arrow. When she was done she turned to me. "Our love will stand as long as this tree. How does it look?"
"Perfect," I answered.
She grinned at me. A moment passed. "I'm taking birth control pills," she suddenly -- quiet randomly – said.
"W-what!? Why?!" The thought of Jessie having sex with someone caused my blood to rush up to my head and irrational thoughts of fighting with whoever this guy was to fill it. He was probably stronger and twice my size.
Jessie stared at me. "Why?" she repeated.
Then it occured to me that Jessie was my girlfriend, and if she was having sex with anyone it would be me. Right. I was rather dumb sometimes.
Jessie had that effect on me.
"Why?" she repeated again. "So I don't get pregnant, maybe?"
I nodded because that seemed like a good reason. There was another pause.
"And my mom won't be home till 10 o'clock tonight."
I knew that. Her mother always came home from work at that time.
She took my hand in hers and gave me a very devilish grin. The blood was pounding in my ears and I couldn't hear very well. I wasn't sure if she said something or not, so I asked, "What?"
"We have plenty of time." She pulled on my arm and led me into her house. She left the knife on the small table in her foyer before leading me up the stairs.
"W-what are we doing?"
She turned around slowly, her eyes half closed before giving me a sultry kiss on the hand. Then she continued up the stairs.
We went into her room and she sat me on her bed. "Jessie?" She sat on my lap, wrapping her legs around my waist and pressing her mouth against mine. She pressed me down on her bed and I tried to think just what the hell I was supposed to be doing now. My heart was pounding a million times a minute and I knew I must have been blushing like mad.
She pushed herself up and crossed her arms as she took off her shirt. Underneath she was wearing one of those black lacy bras that you see in posters for Victoria's Secret stores and I felt the blood start to rush down between my legs.
"J-j-jessie, wait-what-what did you say-pills?-pills you're taking?-You're taking pills?!" My voice cracked and squeaked, which it still did every once in a while.
"Shh," Jessie whispered in my ear. "Calm down, AJ." Her calling me "AJ" helped me calm down a little. If she had called me "Love," or "Baby" like she sometimes did, I'm sure I would have continued to freak out, but she called me "AJ." The only person that called me AJ was Jessie. This was still Jessie. It wasn't some random model from Victoria's Secret, though I bet she could be one.
She started to kiss me and I fell the familiarity of her mouth. It was just like making out, except Jessie wasn't wearing a shirt, and oh my God she was taking off mine. I felt myself harden and goose bumps crawl across my skin as our bare skin moved against each other. Her skin was so perfectly smooth that I found my lips kissing it all over.
My hand rested on the clasp of her bra, but before I did anything with it I felt her hands go down my pants. I made a noise I'm not quite sure how to describe and Jessie laughed before she sucked on my neck.
When did my belt come off?
I tried to go for the bra again but Jessie suddenly pulled away. "Maybe we shouldn't do this."
"What?" It came out too loud so I tried again. "What?"
"I mean, we're only 17. Maybe we're too young for this."
"R-right. Of course you're right! You are right!" I moved back, trying to get my pants re-organized. "Just . . . like, sit over there so I can calm down."
Jessie started to crack up.
I looked up from my pants. "What?
"I was just kidding!"
"You were?" She crashed her mouth to mine.
I jerk awake, and my knees hit the dashboard. I spin my head around and jump again when I see a man's face pressed against my window. "WHAT THE HELL?!" I roll down the window. "What?" I don't remember stopping the car.
"Sorry, sir. I guess I shouldn't have done that. I just wanted to make sure you were okay."
"Yeah." I look around. It appears that I am at a rest-stop off the highway. I stare at the place, trying to figure out where exactly I am.
"Well. Okay then." The man leaves. I turn the car back on and look at the clock. It's about noon. Oh wonderful. Now I'm officially late. Yep, I am so fired. The thought lifted my spirits and I put myself back on the highway.
Thunder rolled across the sky. "It looks like it's gonna storm. Do you want to go inside?"
"No." She tilted her head back to the sky. "I like it when it storms. It cools down the air."
We sit on her porch in the sticky air. "I wish I was a thundercloud," Jessie said.
"I'd be able to see everything from the sky and I could make as much noise as I wanted."
"I could see as you as a thundercloud."
Jessie smiled. "And when it rained I could finally cry." The wind blew back her black hair, making her look really pretty. I took her hand and she gave me a squeeze and a grin. "I want to travel the world, AJ."
"Yeah. I think I want to go into art, too. Or maybe music. I can't decide what I like doing more. So I'm going to travel the world first."
For some reason her words were making me feel lonely. "I get to come with you, right?"
She gave me a real smile that showed her white teeth. "If you're willing to, love."
"Except for that whole, you know, money problem."
She waved her free hand. "Money! We don't need money. We got our own two feet."
"How are we gonna cross the ocean?"
"Swim, of course."
Big fat raindrops hit my windshield, obscuring my vision and I have to turn my windshield wipers on. I pull off the highway and into an exit. I don't think when I do it, but afterwards I realize where I am going.
I'm going home.
I'm going back to Jessie. I'll find her and beg her to forgive me. We can travel the world together. Who cares how expensive it is? She can show me her paintings or play me her music. Whatever one she did choose. She probably does both. Then we'll get married. I'll give her back her ring. I have it in my pocket. I didn't remember I put it in there until just now.
I drive for the rest of the day, making decisions on instinct rather than looking at signs. It occurs to me that I really need to pee, so I stop at a convenience store. I could have stopped at my house to pee, but then I would have to talk to my parents and that would delay me from seeing Jessie. Besides, they might have tried to stop me. Jessie probably has a boyfriend or something. I'm too afraid to find out for sure by talking to them. If anyone has to kill me with the news, I want it to be Jessie.
The convenience store has some kid working at it that I've never seen before. I expected the same guy I went to school with to be still there, but of course he wouldn't be here anymore. I startle the new kid a little as I rush into the store. I really have to pee. Once I've taken care of that, I realize that their might be a chance that Jessie isn't even staying at home anymore. It's summer, so she might be home visiting her mom, but I wasn't sure. I go up to the new kid who was dealing with a middle aged couple. Again, I don't recognize these people either.
"Um, Excuse me," I say to the kid. "I'm sorry, but I'm looking for someone. I'm just wondering if you've seen her around the area. Her name's Jessie Waters. She's my age, with dark hair, dark eyes. She's half Native American."
The boy shakes his head unhelpfully. He obviously doesn't care. I turn to the couple, hoping for better luck. "Have you? She's the daughter of Mrs. Waters. Mrs. Waters works down at the hospital."
"I'm sorry, dear," the woman said. "We don't know any Mrs. Waters."
"Thank you," I say before heading for my car. That isn't a good sign. It's about six o'clock now, and the storm clouds make outside ever darker. I'll just go to Mrs. Waters's house, and if she isn't there, I'll ask Mrs. Waters where she's staying. It sounds like a good plan.
I drive fast, but once I get to her road I slow down to a crawl. My heart starts pounding as I get closer and closer to her house. I can see the maple tree in her yard.
The lights to the house are on. I get excited, but before I can open the car door I lose confidence and sit back down. I watch the house, the only noise being my windshield wipers as they go back and forth. Now that I'm here, what the hell am I going to say to her?
"I haven't seen or talked to you in four years, but I love you and I want to get married."
Yeah, 'cause that would go well..
Maybe I should call first. That would be better than just showing up at her doorstep during a storm. I might scare her and her mother into heart attacks.
I turn on my cell phone and 15 messages from Emily pop up. I ignore them and dial Jessie's number. The phone rings, but no one answers. I look at the lighted windows. I can see the TV's on. They're home. Why aren't they picking up the phone? I get the answering machine and it's one of those ones with a robotic male voice instead of the voice of the people who actually live there. I hate that because it makes me second guess myself if I have the right number or not. I try again just to make sure. The same thing.
That's it. I'll just have to go up and knock on the door. I get out of the car into the pouring rain. Before I get to the door, I stumble to the maple tree. I can't see very well with the rain and the dark and I almost slip on wet grass, but I grab onto the damp bark. Running my hands down the trunk I find the place where Jessie had carved our names. I look at it more closer when I feel something unusual about it.
There's a big X crossed over it, dug deep by a knife. I press my forehead against it and close my eyes. "Jessie . . . I'm so sorry."
She must have been upset. Why did I think she didn't care? Of course she cared. She just never said when she was sad. She never cried. She wouldn't cry for me, but that didn't mean she didn't care.
I push myself up from the muddy ground and go to her front door to ring the door bell. I wait there for a good five minutes, watching the news on the TV through the window. I push the bell again. I hear some stomps and the door is flung open by a short, angry-looking old man.
That certainly is not Jessie or Mrs. Waters.
"Who the hell are you?!"
"Um-uh! Forgive me, I'm . . . I'm Alex Jones–"
"Who? Wadda ya want?!"
"I don't mean to be a bother but –"
"Well you are! You just woke me up from my nap!"
"I'm sorry. I was just wondering if you know what happened to the people that lived here."
"Why would I know?"
"You don't . . . know anything that could have happened to them?"
"They moved away. End of story. Now if you excuse me, I'm going back to sleep." He shut the door in my face, and for a moment I just stand there.
Wait, there was still hope. I got my cell phone and called my parents.
"Alex? What's the matter?"
"When did the Waters move? You never told me they moved!"
"Oh, well every time I brought up the Waters before, you got pissy on me, and I thought you would rather forget about Jessie after you guys broke up. I tried to get you guys to talk –"
"Mom, do you know where they moved to?"
"No, Sweetie. I haven't heard from them in two years."
The door slammed open and the old man came out again. "Get off of my property! I told you that those people moved away!"
"I got to go, mom!" I shut the phone, my throat growing thick. "I'M LEAVING, DAMMIT, OKAY!?" I shout at the man. I storm through the rain, my face growing hot. Of course Jessie isn't here anymore. Why would Jessie stay here? To wait for me to come to my senses and come get her again? Jessie wanted to see the world. She could be anywhere now. Maybe she took her mother with her since I wasn't around. That all makes sense.
I stand in front of my car and tilt my head back to the rain, my own hot tears running down my cheeks.
Jessie was up in the sky. She was the thunder cloud after all and she was crying for me, since she could never really cry any other way. I must have hurt that girl so much that Sunday morning; Jessie, who was afraid to love. I had talked her into falling for me and making dreams that would never come true. In the back of my mind, I had a feeling they would never come true. Who am I kidding? I knew they wouldn't come true. I had planned my life ahead of time to go to college and go into business. I knew I was lying to her when I said I would travel the world with her and marry her and be with her forever. Even if I wanted to do all those things, I knew I wouldn't do them.
I don't think Jessie realized that, though. Or maybe she did, and she was pretending not to see. It was hard to tell when Jessie was sad.
I get in my car, soaking wet. I guess I'll go home now. I came all this way, I might as well visit my parents.
I start the car, my eyes still blurred from my tears, and I'm not paying much attention as I put my foot on the gas. I suddenly hit the break when I realize there's a person in front of the car. I stare out my fogged-up windshield and try to make out what has its foot on the hood of my car. The person backs up, and when my headlights hit her I think I must be dreaming again.
Jessie walks over to the passenger door and knocks. I reach over and unlock the door. She opens the door and sticks her head in, peering in at me. "So it is you. . ." she murmurs.
Out of all the things I want to say to her, the first thing that comes out of my mouth is, "WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU!? I COULD HAVE RUN YOU OVER!"
She slides into the seat, wringing out her hair. It's shorter now; it used to go to the small of her back, but now it goes just past her shoulders, and it's separated in two pigtails. "Are you gonna drive or what?" It's looks sorta adorable on her.
"Right." I put the car in drive. "Wait, what the hell are you doing here?"
"What the hell are you doing here?"
"I ASKED YOU FIRST!"
She gives an exasperated sigh. "Apparently, somebody screwed up and lost some paperwork for my new doctor -- which is ironic because Mom's a nurse, and you think she'd be able to keep track of that kind of stuff -- so I had to come see my old doctor to make copies. After I did that, I felt like I needed a jog and wandered over to my old house to see how it was doing."
"You went for a jog during a storm?"
She grinned at me, showing off her white teeth. "What can I say? I couldn't resist. I love storms. So what brings you here?"
I couldn't say I came all this way here to ask her to marry me. That would make me seem like the crazy one. Who runs during a storm? "I'm visiting my parents," I say.
"You get the wrong house by accident?"
"Ha. Yeah. I went to your house by accident."
"So . . . I haven't spoken to you in ages. What's been up with you?"
"Nothing," I say.
"I see you've had an exciting time without me. You should have known that life without me would be a bore." She's kidding, but she couldn't have been more right.
"What about you? Travel the world?"
"I've gone to a few places. Greece, Italy, that part of the world. My mom's living up in Maine right now."
"Where are you living?"
She shrugged. "Wherever."
"You don't have a boyfriend or a someone to live with?" It slips out.
"Well I do have a boyfriend. I stay with him every once in a while."
I don't know why it bothers me so much. It's been four freaking years. Why shouldn't she have a boyfriend?
Though, back when we were dating, I always had this pride about me being the only one who had ever touched her. I was the only one that had kissed her, told her "I love you." There had never been anyone else for her.
But I broke up with her. I thought it was for the best.
"You have a girlfriend?"
"Yeah. I mean, no. I'm not sure. I don't think so. Not right now, anyway." My cell phone rings and I have a feeling it's Emily.
"Oh. I kinda feel that way too sometimes. I think my boyfriend's gonna dump me soon."
My eyebrows pull together. "Why?" There really isn't any good reason to break up with Jessie.
She stretched her arms over her head. "'Cause I won't put out for him unless he marries me. I'm sorta hoping he dumps or marries me soon because I'm getting sick of arguing with him."
I look at her and I have to remember to look at the road again to keep the car straight. "So . . . you don't sleep together?"
"Oh God, no."
"I don't know. I guess I just want to wait till after we're married. You think that's weird?"
"No, it's just . . . I mean, you and me used to do it all the time, and we're not married."
She punches me in the arm. "I know. But you were just too innocent to be a dill-hole."
"And I knew you were clean, my little virgin."
"So that's what it's about? You're worried about STDs?"
"Part of it, I guess. You mind if I stay at your folks' house with you? While you're visiting, that is. If it's not too much to ask."
"Of course you can!" I pull up the driveway. It took us longer to get there because I had been driving so slow, and I kept taking my eyes off the road to look at Jessie. She was still so gorgeous.
We get out of the car and run through the rain. "My parents are going to be surprised to see you," I say.
"Yeah. Hey, listen."
I look at her before knocking on the door.
"Don't ever leave me alone again, okay? I don't want to wait another four years to see you."
"I'm sorry about that, I –"
She grinned at me before taking my hand and kissing it the way she always used to and then knocking on the door. "MR. AND MRS. JONES! WE GOT A SURPRISE FOR YOU!"