Tuesday 30th November
I don't know how I'd have coped at school without Jack today. It doesn't help that I can't rest for the next few evenings because of Ross and homework.
I woke up and stretched. Ross was still asleep so I wrote a quick note to him explaining what I was doing and put it on his bedside table before heading off to the bathroom and getting ready for school.
I was just coming out of the bathroom to go down for breakfast when I bumped into Jack.
He smiled at me. "Heya Rosa," he said warmly.
I think he must have still been a bit fuzzy from sleep because he leant down and kissed my cheek before ruffling my hair affectionately and passing me by to go to the bathroom himself.
Downstairs, Lily was there, reading the newspaper.
"Are you working today?" I asked.
Lily put down her newspaper and nodded. "Why?"
"I was just thinking, Ross needs someone to look after him."
Lily frowned. "Um, perhaps Mark can, but why does Ross need looking after?"
"Well, he's reverted to a childlike state of mind."
"Oh I see." Lily still looked confused but didn't press me further. "Well, I'll ask Mark to."
Just then, Jack walked in. He sat next to me.
"Did you have a good night's sleep, darling?" he asked me, in that same warm tone he'd used earlier. He could have just asked if I'd enjoyed a recent date with him, he spoke with such fondness.
"Sort of. But Ross was up, crying because he thought I didn't love him."
"Ah, that's no good. At least you got some sleep."
"I'm not looking forward to school, though."
"Of course not. The next few days are going to be tough."
I sighed. "How annoying."
"I'll try and help where I can."
Jack and I walked to school together. As we split up to go to our separate form tutors, Jack said, "At break, come and find me at ‘our tree'."
Our tree? My heart fluttered at the countless memories of time spent underneath the oak tree that Jack and I had adopted as our own when we were lovers.
Jack smiled as he walked off; leaving me to recall the time we'd carved a love heart in the bark which contained our initials: JS + RF.
I found it almost impossible to concentrate in the first two hours of lessons. I kept nearly falling asleep.
It was a blessed relief when the bell rang to show the end of the period before break.
Under the tree, Jack was waiting. He looked concerned as I collapsed beside him.
"You look exhausted," he murmured. "Why don't you have a little rest?"
"That sounds like a brilliant idea. Will you wake me up when break's over?"
"No," he replied sarcastically.
I smiled. "Just checking."
"I think you should be more worried about me kidnapping you."
"Nah, that's something I'd look forward to."
I snuggled up against him and closed my eyes.
"Have you got a study period next?" he asked.
"Double," I replied.
"Same. Do you want to go to the library?"
I dozed off as he stroked my palm. It was as if we were still together. I thought it brilliant that Jack and I were still so close.
Jack rubbed my shoulder to wake me up. He helped me to my feet and insisted on carrying at least one of my folders. We then ambled to the school library, a small building near the art block and facing one of the main teaching buildings.
Inside, Jack and I sat in a corner in the fiction section of the library.
"Did you get much homework this morning?" Jack asked.
"Too much," I replied, thinking about the massive essay I'd been set.
"Too bad. Anything I could help with?"
"No, I don't think so; but thanks for offering."
"What about you?"
"Well, I only got a small amount so I'll be finished quite quickly. That's why I wanted to know if I could help you."
"Ah, well, I'll try to finish quite quickly too so we can talk."
I took about an hour, though. When I'd finished, I was able to talk to Jack for about an hour before lunch.
It was pleasant as we reminisced about the times we'd had together. It was evident that we both longed to be a couple again, but we were able to not be blatant so there was no awkwardness.
It also helped relieve the stress I'd been feeling at the thought of Ross behaving like a child for a long period of time. I was almost sad when we went to lunch, though the conversation continued right up until afternoon lessons began. I was much more focused by this time, so life was much easier.
It was still liberating to go back to Jack's, though. I walked home with the friend I knew I'd always have and enjoyed talking to Amy who accompanied us as far as our routes overlapped.
When I got home, I half expected Jack to take me up to his room and start kissing me but was jolted back into reality by Ross's rather eager greeting. He ran up to me and almost knocked me over with the force of his embrace. I felt in his thoughts that he had missed me a great deal and that he loved me and was overjoyed to see me again. He'd thought I wouldn't come back. It was a great relief when Jack gently prised him off of me, telling him that he'd hurt me if he wasn't careful. I knew Ross probably wouldn't understand the double meaning of that statement.
I ate dinner, completed the fresh pile of work I'd received today and helped put Ross to bed before sitting downstairs and watching a film with Jack. I then retired for the night, looking forward to a hopefully peaceful night of sleep.
This, however, was not meant to be as Ross woke me up with quite a violent tugging of what felt like a rope at the back of my mind that I'd never really noticed before.
"What's wrong?" I asked, tiredly.
"It hurts," came the muffled reply.
"My head. Inside."
I sat bolt upright. With all the other things in my life, I'd quite forgotten the reason behind Ross's childlike state. The mental pain! Oh, I hoped there wasn't too much of it. I scrambled out of my sleeping bag and ran to sit next to Ross.
"Is it bad?" I asked, concerned for his welfare.
"Not really, but it's annoying and I can't sleep."
I put my arms around him and tried to ease some of the pain my sending soothing waves of love through his mind.
"What are you doing, Rosie? You've never done this before."
"I'm trying to help you. Is it working?"
"Yeah. It's nice. Sorta tingly. It's odd, though."
"I'll try and do this every night. Have you felt the pain before?"
Ross nodded. "Every night."
"Oh, you poor thing. You should have said."
"I think it was re-la-ted to the nightmare and the neg-a-tive feelings."
"You should have said, darling."
"I didn't think you could do anything."
When the pain had subsided, I returned to my bed. I felt closer to Ross now. I'd shared his pain and helped him through it. It was the first time I'd felt I was really anything useful in his life in this childlike state. I felt warm inside as I drifted off to sleep.
Having to use short date. So stressed. This is so difficult.
The following morning, I woke up late. With no time to do anything but get ready, I forgot to leave Ross a note. Consequently, there were cries of distress while I was in the shower. I quickly rushed out, dried myself and changed before running to the room, giving Ross a quick hug and ignoring his protests as I ran downstairs. I hurriedly ate breakfast and picked up my bags before Jack drove us to school - it was that late.
"I'm so sorry," I panted in the car.
"Don't worry. It looks like Ross woke you up again."
"I think he's going to wake me every night. He told me it's been the pain last night. Poor thing."
"No, poor you."
"You're obviously not."
"Well, I'll survive."
"Are you sure you want to go to school today?"
"What? You said Ross shouldn't affect my education."
"Yes, but you're going to get ill if you try to do too much."
"It's okay, Jack. What would I do if I didn't go to school? I'd have to look after Ross for the whole day, and I need some release."
Jack looked concerned, though, as we drove in through the school gates.
That night, Ross and I had a big argument. I was doing my work and he wanted to play a board game (he thought he was 10 now).
"We haven't done anything since Sunday!"
"I have to do my work!"
"Are you saying it's more important than me?!"
"No, of course not..."
"Then come and play this board game with me!"
"You're so horrible!"
"I'm sorry, Ross..."
"I don't want your apology! You never have time for me!"
"We can do loads at the weekend!"
"That's ages away! Anyway, you won't really want to do it, then. You'll be too tired."
"I'm tired now! I have to do this work! It's really important."
"Again, more than me."
"Yes, alright, if you're going to be like that. It's tonnes more important than a silly little child who's always annoying you."
Ross looked shocked and hurt. "How can you say that?" he whispered.
"Just go away!"
"No, you! This is my room, anyway. Go and work with Jack if that's what you want. I don't care. I don't need you. I don't even love you," Ross spat.
I took my books and folders into Jack's room. He frowned slightly, but was happy for me to work with him. I think I fell asleep at his desk because when I woke up in the night, I was in my sleeping bag. Ross was murmuring "Ouch," from time to time.
I went to sit by him but he pushed me away, claiming he didn't need my help.
It took me a long time to get back to sleep that night.