Jake woke up at four thirty in the morning every day. He would get out of bed quietly, making his side of it before he left the room. Not once had I seen him put on anything besides his sweatpants, even in the winter. He would tiptoe down the hallway, put on his shoes and leave the house. It was like a ritual within his life that he just went through, and never once broke.
I never bothered to ask him.
"Why didn't you bother to ask him?"
Because I knew Jake would not answer the question. It was nosy of me to ask out loud, so I kept the questioning to myself. He would return around six, I know it was six because I would lay awake and wait for him, staring at the alarm on the nightstand by the bed.
You do not understand. Jake was...beautiful. This went on for years, and I even asked his parents about it once—before they died—and I was told he did it as a teen as well. It was better than drinking, right? So what right did I have to complain? And really, why would I? Jake would always return to me, and I did not believe he was cheating because he wasn't like that.
But I was curious.
"Is that how it happened? Because of your curiosity?"
Probably, more than likely, yes. One day I just decided to get up with him, and he did not complain about my doing so. I didn't think he would, really, but one can never know everything, so I had to kind of keep in mind that there was a possibility that he could complain.
I got out of bed and shot him a nervous look, waiting for anything to happen, but Jake just gave me a smile and went on his way. Of course, I followed him. It was in that early light that I could admire him more than I ever had before. You see, we did not live in the city. We lived...we did not live in the city, we lived somewhere, somewhere—
"You lived on the outskirts of it."
Yes, yes, that is right.
It was quite some time to the city, five minutes with the car because cars are fast, but by foot it took longer—and we did walk. I watched the muscles in his back move as he stretched while walking. The light reflected off of his skin and I felt blinded by how much my chest swelled with the affection I had for Jake. He did not say a word, did not even make a sound as we walked and walked until we ended up just entering the city. It was exactly five in the morning then, I remember it all too well because I pulled my phone out to check the time. Jake immediately went for a bench nearby and for one second I believed he might have been out of breath and wanting to rest, but I realised I was wrong when he sat down.
The rise and fall of his chest was normal, unlike my own.
"What happened in the city, Elisabeth?"
He patted the seat next to him, inviting me to sit down as well. There were several minutes that I just stood there staring at him because I wasn't quite sure what it all was about. No one was around, you see: no cars, no people, not a sound but the occasional wind. So, surely, you must understand why I was confused. It was cold, too. I had nothing but his t-shirt on, you know.
"Yes, we do."
This shirt here, it is this shirt here I had on then, too. It is Jake's shirt.
"We know, you also had it on when we picked you up, remember?"
I do, quite clearly, in fact.
"Good. We are glad you do. Can you tell us what happened, then? We would like to know."
I think I finally can. I think it is finally okay because I believe it is fully his now, you see.
"Well, if you go about explaining it, I am sure we will see. Would you like to continue?"
Yes because it is okay now. it is finally okay to tell you because years have gone by.
I sat next to Jake, that is what happened. I sat next to him and just looked him in the eyes, those bright, bright eyes that held things no one else could or ever would be able to—and I thought he looked absolutely beautiful. When I was about to question our being there, he lifted one of those slender fingers to his lips as though he meant to tell me not to make a sound and just listen, which I did. I pulled my legs up to my chest and closed my eyes, letting my head fall back and embracing everything. There had never been anything as glorious as that moment.
It was just Jake and I, side by side on that bench mid-winter.
"Did something happen for—"
Nothing happened, nothing at all. No one came by, no car passed us. Five a.m ticked on and we sat in silence. It wasn't until at least forty minutes had gone by that I opened my eyes again to see Jake staring at me. 'The night owls went to bed and the early birds are to wake soon,' he had suddenly whispered. 'This is it, Elisabeth. This silence right here is the peace the world will never acquire.' He said it in such a low mumble I barely understood, but somehow, even then, the words rang and rang and I knew I would have never missed them.
"Then why did you kill him, Elisabeth? Something had to have happened."
No, Jake was beautiful.
Jake found something that was marvelous, and we could not have it tarnished by others. What if someone else found that moment? Do you realise how they would have destroyed it, used it for themselves? It was Jake's time, and I could not have anyone else ever find out about it because you would ruin it. You would kill it, you would bloody it. It is what you do! You ruin things and burn them and take them away! You—
"I think this has been enough for today, Elisabeth."
Don't you talk to me that way! Had I not done what I did then surely someone else would have taken the moment from him! I had to let him keep it. I had to make sure, make sure, make absolutely sure that it was Jake's time. You would have killed it! Tarnished it! Bloodied—
"Could we have someone get the sedatives?"