Watching Little Birds Fly
|~ Part One ~|~ Part Two ~|
Disclaimer: All things ‘Once and Again’ belong to the creators of the show. I think.
Archive: http://www.realmoftheshadow.com/megan.htm (My eternal gratitude to Kim for saving my stories from oblivion.)
Summary: Sometimes all you can do, is observe from the sidelines. And hope that the birds don’t come crashing down. Sequel to ‘Dear Jessie’.
Author’s Notes: Continues the story that began in ‘Perfect In An Imperfect World’. This chapter intertwines with ‘Dear Jessie’, and tells things from Katie’s pov. Timeline is still... around ‘Gardenia’.
Jessie storms into her room. Mad as anything. I follow her a few steps behind, and quickly jump out of the way, when she slams the door shut right behind me, “Can you believe her!”, she huffs, and buries her hands into her hair. I half expect her to start growling, like a dog. But instead, she talks, like her mother, “Oh! You’re gay? That’s nice. Now eat your vegetables.”
I sit down on her bed, and peel out of my coat, letting it slide down behind me. I really didn’t think it was that bad, “Jess...”
“And what the Hell was that about the lying?!”, she doesn’t even hear my voice. Her arms are spread wide to her sides, and she’s shaking her head, “Since when do teenagers tell their parents about their love lives?”
“I don’t think it was...”
“And how about the crazy talk?”, okay. I’ll be quiet then, “One minute she’s accusing me of lying, and the next she’s demanding that I haven’t? What is that?!”, yeah, that was scary. I agree. Like she was talking to two different people. Jessie’s now screaming at herself in the mirror, having a nice little monologue. I reach out behind me, and grab the jacket. Digging into one of its pockets, I pull out a cd and start to study it. It’s the Billie Holliday record, I brought for Jessie to listen to. She’s been quiet for a few seconds, so I lift my gaze back towards her. And find her glaring back at me, “Am I boring you?”, she asks, shaking her head, and sounding annoyed.
“A little”, I say with a sheepish smile. My hands start to nervously play with the cd cover, opening and closing it.
She keeps evil-eyeing me silently for a few seconds, before opening her mouth again, “Would it kill you to take an interest in my life?”
“It might”, I say quietly, “Your arms are flailing around pretty dangerously”, she gets ready to protest, so I quickly go on, “I heard what you said.”
Jessie takes a deep breath, and bows her head, “And?”
“And it’s not that bad. Really Jessie...”
“Not that bad!”, she yells, and turns to stare at me again. With the hopeless eyes. The ones, that make me want to go beat some sense into the woman, for bringing more pain into Jessie’s life.
But I don’t, because I could see, how lost Karen was herself, “Do you WANT my opinion?”, I ask, opening my eyes as wide as they do, “Cause I can sit here quietly too. I don’t mind”, she shrugs, and takes a seat at the chair, “You gotta figure it came as an awful shock to her, finding out like that”, I say. Jessie has again bowed her head down, and is staring at the floor. I don’t know if she’s even listening to me, but I’ll give it a shot, “And her initial reaction wasn’t to throw me out, or to demand you to stop seeing me. Hell, she even let us come up here. Together”, she still doesn’t move. Sits there like a statue. Or the glass sculpture, I once compared her to, “That should tell you something, Jessie.”
“Yeah”, she mutters, “It tells me she doesn’t care.”
Well, there is that, of course. But I find it hard to believe, “It was just the shock, Jessie.”
She starts shaking her head, “No, Katie. You don’t see it, cause you don’t live here”, she says. Well, I practically do. That’s what my parents keep telling me anyway, “She doesn’t care about me. Or anyone. Or anything.”
I look at her for a few moments, and then stand up, “Well, okay. It wasn’t perfect. Nothing ever is.”
Her head slowly raises up, and she’s smiling. A little sadly, but not too much, “You are”, she says quietly.
“What?”, I shake my head, and try to smile back. But it comes out as a blend somewhere between a smile and a frown.
“I remember thinking that”, she says, still talking very quietly. It’s like this happy, yet sad voice. Nostalgic, I guess, would be the word, “When you first kissed me.”
“Really?”, a smile flashes by my mouth. But for some reason it doesn’t stay there. It must be the sweetest thing anyone’s ever said to me! I feel like crying, but I can’t be that weak. I have to be strong, “Well, I know I’m almost too good to be true, but perfect?”, I say teasing, and walking towards her, “I’m sure you can find A flaw in me, if you put your mind to it.”
For a second, it seems like my diversion tactic is working. She grins even wider, and almost starts laughing. But it’s not easy leading Jessie away from sad thoughts, she clings onto them like they’re the only thing keeping her alive. Slowly the grin fades away, and she just looks at me. I come to stand before her, and stroke my hand through her hair. She has to tilt her head backwards, to keep looking me in the eyes.
“You have to give her a chance, Jessie”, I say.
She nods, and looks away, “I know. I know she’s this way only because of the depression”, her voice weakens. And then suddenly raises again, along with her head, “God, I hate that you’re only seeing the worst side of her. When mom’s okay, she’s the greatest mother there is. She loves me more than anyone ever will”, she says. Not if I have something to say about it, she won’t.
Her eyes shine, when she talks. And I believe her. I can see, even with the depressed Karen, that the relationship between the two doesn’t lack in love. For a few seconds, I stare into her eyes, and smile. Jessie’s eyes are like a reflection of the sky. They can be the brightest blue things I’ve ever seen, and looking into them is like flying. Or they can be as dark as the night, and it feels like I’m falling. In love.
I lift my hand up to reveal the cd, “Can I put this on now?”
“I’ll do it”, she says, grabbing the cd.
A little reluctantly I remove my other hand from her hair, so she can slide the chair over to the shelf, and the cd-player on it. I turn around, and go sit back down on the bed, “Jessie?”, I say, when the first sounds of piano fill the air. She turns a questioning look towards me, and remains by the player, “Did you notice how you...”, I swallow nervously, “How you told your mother that you’re ‘in love’ with me?”, she’s never said it before. Never used the four letter word to describe her feelings towards me. It’s special to Jessie. It has taken her two months to get to this point. Sarah said it after two days.
“I did?”, she says frowning a little, “I did.”
“It’s okay, I know you were confused and...”, I start shaking my head, and look down.
“No, it’s not that Katie...”, she says, then pauses, when she hears Billie’s voice for the first time. I turn to look at her again, and she’s staring out the window, her mouth is still open. She’s lost in thought. Then after a time, she shakes herself to full alert. But before she can finish her sentence, there’s a knock on the door. What little lightness remained on her face, disappears immediately.
“Give her a chance”, I plead, when she turns off the music, and heads for the door. She ignores my words, probably doesn’t even hear them.
Jessie tears open the door, “What?”, she asks vehemently. Karen is muttering quietly, too quietly for me to hear. Something in Jessie’s posture changes. Her hand, which was at first clenched in a fist, opens up. And she takes a small step backwards.
“I didn’t mean to...”, I think I hear Karen say. I shift my position slightly, so as to catch a glimpse of the woman. When it doesn’t work, I stand up, and crane my neck.This time I see her. Our eyes happen to meet briefly, and she seems to reconsider her words, “Could I come in... please, Jessie?”, she says more clearly.
I wait for Jessie’s answer. It comes in the form of a shrug. She turns around, and we share a look. Jessie seems awfully confident. Maybe it’s the anger, that’s giving her all this extraordinary strength. She walks up to me, and sits down on the bed. Pulling me with her. Her hand comes to rest on my knee. I can’t seem to take my eyes of it.
Not until Karen’s voice draws my attention, “I’m sorry about downstairs. I really didn’t mean to be so uninterested. I just felt betrayed... that you didn’t tell me”, she says, with her head bowed down. I think she should have the decency to face her daughter, but that’s just me.
“Mom, you have to stop treating me like I’m five”, Jessie’s got an answer ready. More proof of her newfound self-confidence, “I’m fifteen, my life doesn’t revolve around you anymore. And yours shouldn’t revolve around me”, she says.
I have no idea what she’s getting at. A few minutes ago, she was whining because her mother didn’t seem to care. And now it’s the other way around. But this isn’t your ordinary ‘coming out’ confrontation. I’ve heard about a few of those, and gone through it myself. This isn’t it. There is more going on here, things that I don’t know about. Or have only the vaguest ideas of. It all stems from Karen’s depression, I think. It’s preventing Karen from dealing with this properly, and it’s making Jessie confused about her situation. In a weird way, it seems like she’s almost the parent at times. Or maybe I have no idea what’s happening.
“You know, it really doesn’t bother me, that you’re... gay”, Karen says. The last word is separated by an unnatural gap. And she pronounces it funny. Just the kind of thing that might aggravate Jessie. But Karen’s voice is so sweet, it takes all the edge out of the mistake, “It really doesn’t.”
I turn from the mother’s smiling face, to the daughter’s incredulous expression. Her mouth is hanging open long before she answers, “What? You’re okay with it?”, she says, and glances at me. I give her a hopeful smile, and place my own hand in top of hers.
Jessie looks at her mother again, and I follow her lead. For the first time I see the remains of the tears on her face. And new ones already springing from the eyes, “I just... need to be part of your life”, she says with a faltering voice.
“Of course you are!”, Jessie shouts. I squeeze her hand lightly, tying to get her to calm down. She jumps on her feet, and I lose hold of her, “Why are you saying things like that?”
And then it hits me, why Jessie is acting the way she is. She’s the one who’s afraid of losing her mother. Not because they’re growing apart, that’s natural, but because she’s afraid of what her mother might do. To herself. It doesn’t come clear from Jessie’s words, but it’s there, hidden in her voice. Jessie’s always hiding her darkest fears from everyone. Even the people, who could help her. She guards them the only way she knows how, by hiding them.
“But you just said...”, Karen says. Her voice is the voice of a little child. Confused, and scared.
“I just meant, that you can’t control everything about me anymore. I have to have a life away from you too”, Jessie says. She’s being the rational one. Trying to say the right things. It’s what her mother should be doing. I want to be mad at the woman, for being so weak. For burdening Jessie with all these unnecessary worries. But I can’t. How can you be mad at someone, who is so hopelessly lost?
The tears are now sliding down Karen’s cheeks, when she nods, “I understand. But you can still tell me about it, can’t you?”, she says to her daughter.
“Sure”, Jessie answers.
And they hug. I look away, trying to give them some privacy. I really shouldn’t be here, this is not the way these things should be done. But I have to be here, for Jessie. Just in case things go to Hell, I have to be here to make sure she’ll be okay.
I wait patiently, my eyes fixed on the open door. Have to wonder how and where things will go from here. Her mother knows now, and all the weirdness aside, I think Jessie’s dealing with it just fine. With the coming out part. So, maybe she won’t be as scared of it after this. Maybe I can finally take her home with me. Touch her in school. Kiss her in the movies.
“Are you okay, mom?”, Jessie asks, after what feels like an eternity. I turn to look at them again, and they are apart. Karen looks back at me, and smiles through the tears. I try to smile back politely, “No! Not with this. Are YOU okay? You’ve been so...”, Jessie goes on.
“I’m fine. You don’t have to worry about me, Jessie”, Karen finally says the right words. I just wish she’d live by them. How can Jessie not worry about her, when she’s weeping like a little child? The whole absurdity of the situation makes me want to laugh, but luckily I can resist the urge. Jessie whispers something, I can’t hear what, but apparently her mother can, “Because I love you so much”, Karen says. That’s a good answer, no matter what the question was, “And sometimes it feels like I’m losing you”, uh oh, not so good an answer. I can’t believe she didn’t learn her lesson the first time!
“Stop talking like that!”, Jessie’s outraged, and rightly so, “I’m right here! You’re right here!”, she shouts.
“I’m sorry! You’re right. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean anything by it”, Karen quickly concedes. But it’s still too late. Every time she says those things, they’ll sink deeper and deeper into Jessie’s mind. And pretty soon, there’s no way of getting rid of them. She shouldn’t say things like that. She’s the mother, “Look... maybe I should go. We can talk more in the morning?”, Karen decides to make a hasty exit. Not a bad choice. This conversation seems to have served its purpose. Things aren’t much better off than before, but every little bit helps, I guess.
Jessie nods, and then follows Karen to the door, and closes it behind her mother. She turns around and leans her back against it. There’s an exhausted expression on her face, when she slowly slides down the door, to sit on the floor, “How about that?”, Jessie breathes out heavily. I smile weakly, “Why are you so quiet?”, she asks frowning.
“I’m just... trying to make sense of all this”, I shrug.
“Trying to make sense of the insensible? That’s not wise”, she says shaking her head, and grinning. Nice to see, she can still joke about it, “But there was something good in this, wasn’t there? She didn’t seem to mind... that you’re a girl.”
“No she didn’t”, I agree. That was most definitely a good thing. All you can ask really. I stand up, and make my way next to her. Her hand starts stroking my ankle through my jeans, “Jessie... what if she tells people?”, I ask looking down at her.
Jessie’s eyes are on my legs, “She won’t”, she says, moving her hand upwards, almost to my knee.
“Yeah”, I say, and take a seat next to her, “But, what if she will?”
She turns to look at me. Our eyes are only a few inches apart, “I don’t know”, she says, and looks away, “I guess...”, her voice is distant, she really doesn’t know, “I guess... I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.”
“What?”, I ask quietly, hoping to gain her attention again. But she keeps staring at the bed on the other side of the room.
“Yeah”, she says, and nods once, “Eli won’t care. He loves me unconditionally”, there’s little doubt in her voice. I hope she’s right. I think she is. That’s the best quality in brothers, they don’t usually mind what you do, unless they’re having one of their annoying overly protective streaks, “And dad... well, I don’t know how he’s gona deal with it. But I’m sure he’ll come around given time”, she says, and then turns an adorable smile towards me, “And you already know. That’s everyone who matters.”
I smile back, “Really?”
Jessie nods, “Really”, she tries to assure me. But there’s a slight hesitation, and I know she isn’t as sure as she lets on. She still doesn’t want anyone to find out. She leans her head down on my shoulder. I lean my own against hers. Bringing my right arm around her, I pull her closer to me, “But she won’t tell”, Jessie whispers quietly this time. I clench my eyes shut, and try to push away the insecurities. I can’t believe what this girl has done to me. I’ve NEVER been insecure in my life. Never been afraid of anything, as much as I’m afraid of losing her.
“Jessie?”, I say her name, after a few minutes of silence. It’s such a perfect silence, feels like a sin to break it. But I can’t help myself. There are things I just need to know.
“Katie?”, she says back.
“Katie...?”, she interrupts me, before I can get any further.
“Stop it!”, I say, pinching her lightly on the arm. She starts to giggle. I open my mouth to ask the question. But something stops me. It’s Jessie’s laughter. It’s so airy, I don’t wanna ruin it.
She laughs for a good time. I wait and listen to it. It’s the most beautiful sound in the world. When it finally quiets down, silence falls into the room again. I press myself closer to her, and bring my hand to her neck.
“Katie”, she says, “You don’t have to be afraid anymore. I love you.”
I’m crouching by a tree, watching how she is slowly moving through the school yard, towards the doors. Lugging that bag of hers with great difficulty. Because it’s packed full with every book known to school. One of Jessie’s weird quirks. She takes every single book to school with her, cause ‘It’s too much work, trying to remember which ones I need which day’. I remember, before I knew her, I would watch her from here, and wonder, why it always looked like she was only a step away from collapsing under her load. And now I know. It’s not the books, it’s her life.
Today her step is a little lighter than usual. Maybe the mother daughter bonding went well beyond good. Her head is scanning the yard, looking for me. I straighten up, and gather my own bag. It’s lighter than hers. There’s maybe one book in it, I don’t remember. I usually keep all my books in the locker. I do a little evasive move, and circle around her back. Jessie’s stopped in the middle of the yard, but before I can reach her, she starts moving slowly again. I rush to close the distance between us as stealthily as I can, and then place my hands around her head, covering her eyes, “Guess who?”, I say, with a lower than usual voice.
Jessie stops walking, and takes a few seconds, “Come on, Tad”, she then says, surprising me. Usually she doesn’t bother to play this game, “Katie might see us!”
“Hey!”, I say in my normal voice, and remove my hands.
Jessie twirls around, and fakes surprised, “Oh, it’s you! How... nice!”
I swat her on the arm, and start to grin. She smiles back, “Why would Katie mind, what you do with Tad?”, I say, when we start to move towards the building.
Jessie takes her time again, and then starts talking, “Well, here’s the thing. Katie and me are like... an item. But I also have this lewd affair with this Tad guy, who’s like Katie’s friend and all”, she says. I notice a slight blush rise to her cheeks, “And so we have to be extra careful.”
“Oh. I see”, I reply, when we reach the doors. I push myself through it, and Jessie follows in my wake, “So... what item would you say we are?”
“It’s just a saying, Katie”, she answers.
“No, Jessie. It WAS just a saying”, I say, grinning wickedly at her, “Like in the fifties, I think.”
“You are evil!”, she says, and laughs a little, “Anyway, I think we are a rainbow.”
“Rainbow is not an item, Jessie”, I immediately say, and nod, “It’s an illusion.”
“Fine. You pick then”, she says, sounding a little offended.
I don’t answer at first. Instead, I look around us. There are lots of people in the hall, in hearing range, and Jessie doesn’t seem to mind. Or maybe she hasn’t noticed. I know how hard it is sometimes, to care about the surroundings, when I’m with her. A lot of the time, I find that we’re just walking around, and I have no idea where we’ve been. Only that we’ve reached our destination.
“What? No more clever comments, miss smarty-pants?”, she says, when I’ve been quiet for a good time.
“Oh, right. The item”, I say, and turn my mind back on it, “Let’s see... something practical, yet sweet...”
“Practical?”, Jessie glances at me, with a frown on her face, “You think we’re practical?”
“No. I’m the practical part, you’re the sweet part”, I say and smile at her.
“You practical?”, she smiles back, and then turns to look ahead again.
I turn a little, to make room for a guy, who threatens to walk all over me. For a second, I consider letting him have it, but then decide it’s not worth, losing this adorable exchange of thoughts with Jessie, over it. Instead, I turn my attention back to my girlfriend, “I’m not?”
Jessie shakes her head a little, when we round the corner, “I don’t see practicalism oozing out of you.”
“First off”, I say, and lift up my index finger, “It’s practicality, you of the smaller brain”, she turns to look at me with an expression, which is somewhere between outraged and amused, “Second”, I lift up another finger, “I KNOW, I’m not a freaking rainbow!”
“Why you being so down on rainbow?”, Jessie asks. She sounds like she’s a little upset for real this time, “I think rainbow is perfect. It’s so pretty. And colorful. There’s that treasure at the end of it”, she says, and pauses to lean closer to me, “Which could be like our love”, she whispers, before pulling away, “And, plus, it only comes out during rain. Which is only like my very favorite weather.”
Wow! I had no idea, she’d put so much thought into it. It still bothers me though, “But it’s not real, Jessie! We’re real”, I say and stop walking, when we reach the stairs.
Jessie takes a few more steps, heading past the stairs, before stopping and turning around, “Yeah... and we also are not a thing. We are people”, she says and shakes her head, “I thought this was just a game?”
“Yeah”, I say, bowing my head, and shaking it slightly, “You’re right. I’m being stupid”, I say and lift my gaze to look at her again. I give her a reassuring smile, “We can be a rainbow.”
“Good”, she nods once, and then starts to turn around.
“I thought we were going up?”, I ask her, and frown.
“No, I gotta unload these”, she says swaying her bag a little, “And then get to math.”
Aww!, but we have so much to talk about!, “You didn’t tell me, how the little talk with your mom went, yet. Or if it even went”, I start to whine.
“It went”, she replies and nods again, “We have all day, Katie. It’s not even first period yet”, but I wanna talk now! Now! Jessie starts to leave again, but then hesitates for a second. She opens her mouth, looks around, and finally whispers barely loud enough for me to hear, “Sarah told her.”
Sarah?, “But I thought...”, I say and frown, “She figured it out for herself last night?”
“Yeah, that was like the last clue”, Jessie says, “But apparently Sarah had pointed her in the right direction.”
“I can’t believe she’d do that”, I mutter absentmindedly. This isn’t good. Now I’m gona have to tell Jessie about the whole business with Sarah. It’s a wonder she hasn’t figured it out already. But maybe it is a good thing after all. We shouldn’t have secrets. I just hope she doesn’t... what? Dump me because of my past? That’s not an option. It can’t be.
“Well, she did”, Jessie says after a while. There’s that pointed look in her eyes, the one she uses, when she’s trying to uncover some mystery, “Anyway, I gotta go. See you”, she says, and turns to leave.
“Yeah, see you”, I call back. Suddenly it’s a good thing we have classes to go to. I have to think of the best approach on this particular problem. I start ascending the stairs, still lost in my mind. I’m just gona have to tell her everything. It’s the only way, she has to hear it from me. About all these broken hearts, I’ve left behind. Well, a broken heart. Sarah was the only one, who took it so seriously. The only one I gave enough time to really fall in love with me.
Midway to the second floor, a girl brushes past me from behind, and bumps into me slightly. She doesn’t apologize, or stop, just keeps running up the stairs, “Hi Grace!”, I call after her.
“Whatever”, she mutters, without even looking back.
Again I’m sitting, and watching her walk. It’s my favorite waste of time. To watch her, see how gracefully she moves. This time she’s looking back at me. Sitting on the bleachers. She’s walking across the football field, straight towards me. It’s lunch hour, and the place is empty. Her eyes are fixed on me, and they’re making me a little uncomfortable. Jessie’s the only one, who can make me feel uncomfortable, just by looking at me. And she’s the only one, who can make me comfortable, just by looking at me.
“Hey”, she calls from the ground, and starts climbing up the levels, one by one. I’m sitting at the very top. I wave a hand at her. Jessie smiles back, and brushes a few stray hairs behind her ear, “What happened to you?”, she asks, when she reaches the top, and sits down next to me. My head follows her all the way. And her eyes never part mine, “Haven’t seen you all day.”
“I had stuff to think through”, I answer.
“Oh”, she stutters, and smiles hesitantly. Before turning to look ahead, across the field.
“You know, Jessie, there are still things you don’t know about me”, I say, staring at the side of her face.
“You telling me”, she says, with a twinge smile, “I still haven’t even met your parents.”
That’s not my fault! Don’t you dare pin that one on me!, “Yeah, cause you don’t want to!”, I reply a little too harshly.
Jessie startles slightly, and glances at me, “It... would feel weird. They knowing about us...”, her voice is timid, and she hides her eyes from me, bowing her head down, “Why did you have to tell them?”
“I didn’t have to tell them anything, Jessie”, I say, and resist the urge to start playing with her hair. Again. Her hair is so soft, silky. And it smells so nice. Like apples, “They know what I am. They know me, Jessie. When I go home, all ecstatic, they know it’s because of a girl. And this time it’s even more obvious, cause I’m actually in love. For the first time.”
She looks at me under her brow. Happily at first, but confusion slowly takes over, “So there has been... others before me?”, she asks quietly.
I nod, and keep a serious expression on my face, “Yeah. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”
Jessie starts nodding her head, and purses her lips. Still nodding her head, she turns away from me again, “Sarah?”, she says, and her whole body tenses up. I can sense it from here, without even touching her. It’s gona be a big deal to her. Everything is a big deal to Jessie. I move my hand, and try to brush her arm, “Of course Sarah!”, she shouts and jumps on her feet, “God! I must be blind!”, she paces a few steps away from me, and then turns around. I just keep looking at her. My heart is pounding, feels like it’s gona burst through my chest any second now. I can’t take it, if Jessie leaves now, “All this time I’ve thought she’s just a total bitch, and turns out she has every right to hate me”, Jessie sneers.
“No Jessie!”, I shout, and stand up myself. She takes a step away, “She has every right to hate ME. You haven’t done anything wrong”, Jessie stares at me for a few seconds. And then turns her eyes past me, when tears start to well up in them.
“It is my fault too”, she says, and looks so sad. All I want to do is crush her in a hug, but she’d probably jump down, before let me do that now, “All that time we were fighting over you... I didn’t know exactly what we were fighting for, but it felt good. When you chose me, and not her”, she says, “I felt good, and she got hurt.”
I wait for a while. Wait for her to look at me, but she doesn’t, “It was my fault, Jessie. I led her on. I hurt her. Not you.”
She opens her mouth, and tilts her head slightly backwards, “Why would you do that?”, she asks, confused.
“Because I was stupid. I didn’t know”, I say. My voice is starting to falter, “She... it... just happened. One minute we were having fun, the next she was in love with me. And I didn’t love her back”, I can feel my own eyes watering up too. My vision starts to blur. I’m silent for a good ten seconds, before going on, “I never loved her. I’ve only ever loved you, Jessie”, I take a step her way. She doesn’t even see it, she’s staring at the sky, “I love you, Jessie”, I tell her again.
She doesn’t answer at first. Just tries to absorb it all. I don’t know what’s bothering her more, that I could hurt someone, like I hurt Sarah. Or that she isn’t my first girlfriend.
“I know you do, Katie”, she finally says, “But what if tomorrow you meet someone else?”
“No! You’re everything I want from this life”, I state as a fact, “But, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been others before you. Everybody dates in high school, Jessie.”
She nods her head. A single tear slides down her face, “Yeah, I’m being stupid. I know. I don’t know why I thought, I’d somehow be your first girlfriend”, she says. I do, though. It’s a romantic notion, to think that we’ve just breezed through life, confused and alone. And then miraculously everything clicked when we met. And Jessie loves romantic notions. But I’ve known a long time, that I’m gay. I’ve dated girls a long time. There is no changing the past.
“Think of it this way”, I say quietly, and wipe away the unshed tears from my eyes, “You’ll be my last.”
“You can’t know that, Katie”, she says, shaking her head and turning to look at me.
I nod, and take a step closer. She doesn’t move away, “I can”, I argue. I know how I feel, it’s Jessie or no one. I take another step, and still she stands her ground, “Sarah, and the others... they were just distractions. I never wanted anything from them”, I say, and raise my hand towards her, “I want something from you.”
Another tear escapes her eye, “What?”, she asks.
I take the last step, and come to stand only an inch away from her, “Everything”, I whisper.
She looks me up and down, releases a desperate sob, and then throws her arms around me and presses her head on my shoulder. I place one of my hands on her back, and bury the other in her hair. Which smells like apples.
“Well, okay”, she whimpers, after a time. Quiet sobs still shaking her body, “But you’re not getting my cds.”
“I can live with that”, I reply quietly, and can’t help smiling. She’s okay with it. With everything. Or if she isn’t yet, she will be soon. She won’t leave me, even though I’ve been a bad, bad girl in the past, “So, if you’ll just take off your clothes, and hand them over to me, we can get going.”
Jessie laughs shortly between the sobs, and pulls me into a tighter hug. But she doesn’t talk. I can hear her ragged breathing. I can feel her warm breath on my ear. Tickling, “I’m sorry I’m such a weirdo, Katie”, she finally says, “I ALWAYS freak out over the smallest things.”
“This isn’t small, Jessie”, I say. It would be small for some people. But Jessie has every right to be upset, “I should’ve told you before”, shit, I should’ve told her way before! In a way, I’ve been leading her on too. Letting her think I’m all that. And none of this.
“It doesn’t matter”, Jessie says.
She’s finally stopped sobbing, and pulls away from the hug. There’s a wet smile on her face. I smile back, and sit down. Jessie hesitates a second, but then takes a seat next to me. She starts a futile struggle to dry off her face with her hands. I can’t believe there are so many tears in one girl. I can’t believe she has to cry so much. But this was the last time I have to hurt her. There are no more secrets. It’s a huge load off my back. We’re one more step closer to living happily ever after.
“So, how did it go with your mom?”, I ask, when enough time has passed, and Sarah is long forgotten.
“My mom...”, Jessie says, and lowers her hands down. She turns a happy smile my way, “Is the greatest.”
< tbc >
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